Ada Reeve

This post is one in a series honoring Women’s History Month

Today is the birthday of Ada Reeve (1874-1966). Born into a London theatrical family, she began performing in the pantomime by the age of four, and from there went on to play children’s roles in melodramas, then worked up a singing and comedy act for music hall. She was a headliner by her teens, and continued to keep a hand in all three forms (panto, legit and music hall) for most of her career. In the 1890s she added the new form of musical comedy to her already impressive reume. Given the stardom she enjoyed in her home country it was inevitable that she would be invited to play American vaudeville. She toured the states several times, including 1893 (when she played Tony Pastor’s and Koster and Bials), the Keith Circuit in 1912, and again in 1925 and 1928. When live variety began to die out in the 1940s and 50s she began to work in films. She retired in 1957. A little arithmetic reveals that her career lasted 79 years.

Here is an an extremely rare record of her music hall act, from 1932:

To find out more about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


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