Stars of the Silver Screen
inOctober 25, 2012 - 1:06pm
During my teenage years I developed an interest in early twentieth century cinema because my Mother's Father, my dear Grandad, was a carpenter at Shepperton Studios. A film studio in Shepperton, Surrey, England. A studio with a history dating back to 1931, since when many notable films have been made there. Films including The Third Man in 1949 starring Orson Wells, Trevor Howard and Joseph Cotton, to Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1991. My Grandfather would often entertain my brother and I with tales from various film sets and we would sit at his feet, enthralled as he would tell us about the actors and actresses who frequented the sets he built. Sir Ralph Richardson who played 'Baines' in film The Fallen Idol (1948) springs to mind; a very humble man who was particularly kind to my Grandfather and always carried butter mints wherever he would go!
From this beginning, my interest diversified to include earlier British cinema and theatre, and in particular, the 'Golden Age' of theatre, in Edwardian England. A time generally thought to have been between the years of 1870 - 1920, give or take a year or two. The end of the Industrial Revolution created a new middle class. At this time, living standards were greatly improved and the bulk of the population moved from the countryside into the towns. So of course, people needed entertainment and they had the money to pay for it. This led to an explosion of Music Halls, which provided universal musical entertainment to the working classes, and grander establishments, such as theatres and opera houses providing for the more refined elements of society. You couldn't get much more grander than the Royal Opera House, London (pictured).
Naturally theatres required plenty of performers. And as a result, provided new opportunities for many talented singers, dancers and actors to earn a living and for some to discover fame and fortune. Another factor which contributed to the success of these stars was a technological innovation which had nothing directly to do with theatre. The technology to mass produce photographic images. In an era before telephones and email, people commonly exchanged postcards as a means of keeping in touch. The arrival of photographic postcards provided the sender with both an excuse for writing and a subject matter to comment upon, leading to their increasing popularity. Ellaine Terriss and Louie Pounds are just two fabulous actresses who shone on the stage and had their photographs immortalised as postcards (pictured).
Ellaline Terriss was born Mary Ellaline Lewin on the 13th April 1871 and died on the 16th June 1971. She was a popular English actress and singer, best known for her performances in Edwardian musical comedies. She married actor and producer Seymour Hicks in 1893. The two joined forces on many projects for the stage and screen.
Louisa Emma Amelia known as "Louie" Pounds was born on the 12th February 1872 and died on the 6th September 1970. She was an English singer and actress, celebrated for her performances in musical comedies and in mezzo-soprano roles with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. I could continue to list more magnificent actresses but you may begin to yawn!
Then of course there is the chic style, fashion, clothing and accessories of the period but I think that deserves its own personal blog entry! In the mean time please take a peek at my shop and discover a few Edwardian and Art Deco treasures, including the postcards above.
Written by Emily Taylor
BiminiCricket on Ruby Lane