Marie Lloyd: The Coster Girl in America

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Born in 1870, from about 1890 or so Marie Lloyd was the top English music hall star of her day. She’d begun singing in the pub where her father tended bar from the age of 15, and later brought her sisters Alice and Daisy into the business as well. Plump, adorably buck-toothed, and possessed of a terrific personality, she was instantly popular, but it was the song “(When You) Wink the Other Eye” which gained her access to the major halls, often working several theatres in a single night.

Marie Lloyd

In 1890, Lloyd came for her first U.S. engagement, playing a successful run at Koster and Bial’s. A second stab at the states 20 years later ended in disaster when she brought along her lover (the two weren’t married), resulting in scandal and cancellation. Lloyd was also often in conflict with theatre owners and authorities over the use of suggestive material in her act. In later years, her body began to break down from the constant strain of performing. She passed away in 1922. Her daughter Marie Lloyd Jr. (1888-1967) picked up the baton.

To find out more about the history of vaudeville, and great stars like Marie Lloyd, please consult my critically acclaimed book No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other fine establishments.

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