Bert Errol: Music Hall’s Favorite Female Impersonator

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Today is the birthday of Bert Errol (1883-1949). Starting around 1909 Errol became the most successful female impersonator in British music hall. From 1910 through 1921 he also made frequent appearances in big time American vaudeville as well, which must have caused a certain amount of confusion, what with Bert Savoy and Leon Errol running around at the same time. To forestall whispers about homosexuality, Errol included his wife Ray Hartley in his act. When he got older and past the point where it was impossible to create the illusion that he was a beautiful young woman, he worked as a pantomime dame. You can see him “Ring His Changes” in this 1922 British Pathe film here:

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/ringing-the-changes

To find out more about the history of vaudeville, including female impersonators like Bert Errol, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous

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