Some fragments today on the vaudeville and Broadway dance team of Adelaide and Hughes. The team consisted of Mary Adelaide Dickey (1882-1960, known to friends and family as Adelaide or Addie), and Jonny “J.J.” Hughes (d. 1927).
Adelaide was a child dance prodigy from upstate Cohoes, New York. As a child she studied ballet in Troy, New York, and got her first performing experience at the National Bank Music Hall (now the Cohoes Music Hall) starting at around age 11 in 1893. Within months she was working prominent vaudeville venues in NYC billed as Le Petit Adelaide. Her specialty was dancing on point. She was booked at Keith’s, Proctor’s, Shuberts’, and Hammerstein’s theatres over the next several years. In 1897 she was featured in a Mutoscope film titled Le Petit Adelaide and the Broadway show The Belle of New York with Harry Davenport, Phyllis Rankin, and Dan Daly. This was followed by A Reign of Error with the Rogers Brothers, produced by Klaw and Erlanger. In 1900 she appeared with Daly and Marie Dressler in the Boston production of The Lady Slavey. It was there that she briefly married a hustling ad man named William Lloyd. She quickly divorced (and prosecuted) him after he hocked some of her belongings.
Now 18, Adelaide was still only five tall, 100 lbs, still able to pass for a child. Around this time her vaudeville specialty was her “Doll Dance”. Her next broadway shows were The Blue Moon (1906-07) and The Flower of the Ranch (1908), the latter with with Mabel Barrison and Joseph E. Howard. That same year she made a big splash by dancing on point atop a galloping horse at New York’s Hippodome.
In 1910, she teamed with Johnny Hughes, and they became one of the top dance teams of Broadway and big time vaudeville for the next 17 years. They appeared in the shows Up and Down Broadway (1910), The Passing Show of 1912, Ned Wayburn’s Town Topics (1915), Monte Cristo Jr (1919) and Lace Petticoat (1927). The pair married in 1913. In between Broadway shows they took prestige vaudeville dates and operated their Brooklyn dance studio Bensonhurst-By-the-Sea. They also embarked on international tours of the music halls of Europe. Adelaide retired shortly after Hughes’ death in 1927.
For more on the team, check out Streetswing and this wonderful article in the Spindle City Historical Society newsletter.
To learn more about vaudeville, including dance teams like Adelaide and Hughes, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous,