Harry Randall: A Distinguished Dame

Born this day, music hall star and pantomime dame Harry Randall (1857-1932). London-born Randall as encouraged in the stone engraver’s trade by his bootblack father, but balked, beginning to work as a supernumerary in theatrical productions as early as age 11. During his teenage years and young adulthood he performed comic monologues and sketches on the hotel circuit. His professional music hall debut was in 1883; his first appearance in panto was three years later. Tunes he popularized in the halls included “I Mustn’t Let Her See Me All at Once”, “The Automatic Battery” and “I’m the Ghost of John James Christopher Benjamin Binns”. Here’s how he looked in his dame gear:

So eminent was Randall in his field that in the 1890s he formed a consortium with the top stars of his day to manage and self-produce: Dan Leno, Herbert Campbell and Fred Williams. As often (but not invariably) happens when artists try to take on the business end, this arrangement folded after a few years. Randall retired in 1913.

To find out more about vaudeville and its veterans, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous