Today being Australia Day (January 26) it seemed a suitable time to celebrate the various kiddie companies operated by James Joseph Pollard. Pollard was an organ maker and piano tuner by trade, who assembled her first all-juvenile companies of musicians and other performers in the 1870s. In 1880 he founded Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Company in Tasmania, which soon expanded its tours to Australia and New Zealand. His companies presented a repertoire of comic operas with casts composed entirely of children. While James Pollard passed away in 1896, others took over the company, and started many of their own with similar names over the ensuing decades. As was common at the time in show business, many member of the company took on Pollard’s surname. During U.S. tours, many of the members peeled off and toured American vaudeville, and some of the became movie comedians. These included Snub Pollard, Daphne Pollard, Billy Bevan, Alf Goulding, Saharet, and Ted McNamara. Thus Pollard Lilliputians has something in common with Gus Edwards vaudeville kiddie empire, and Fred Karno, whose U.K.-based “Speechless Comedians” revolutionized cinematic slapstick.
To learn more about vaudeville please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous