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:
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc