English music hall queen Marie Lloyds reputation
for doing blue material was well established by the
time she got to Vancouver. It got her into trouble here.
Ivan Ackerys book of reminiscences, Fifty Years on Theatre
Row, he quotes an oldtimer, Teddy Jamieson, who recalled a visit
to the (old) Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver by Marie Lloyd in early
The [Vancouver] licence inspector cut out one of her two
songs, The Ankle Watch, Teddy explained. It was
mild as could be in comparison to today. During the song she lifted
her dress and showed her ankle watch. They made her cut it out.
I remember quite well her coming out on stage, he continued.
She was a good trouper, a real pro.
Born Matilda Wood
She was born Matilda Alice Victoria Wood in London, February 12,
1870. She first appeared as Marie Lloyd in June of 1885; Marie because
she liked the name and Lloyd after Lloyds Weekly News.
By 1891 she was a star and earning £100 a week with songs
like My Soldier Laddy, The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery
(which became her biggest hit), and a song wed love to see
the words for: Shed Never Had Her Ticket Punched Before.
personal life was turbulent. In 1904 her first husband divorced
her on the grounds of her adultery with Alex Hurley, an Australian
comic. She married Hurley in 1908, but divorced him in 1911 and,
at 41, began living with a 23-year-old jockey, Bernard Dillon. This
was the early 1900s and behavior of this sort was the subject of
scandalized front-page news.
In fact, Marie was excluded from the Royal Command Performance
of 1912 because of her reputation.
Her lifestyle did her no harm at the box office. She was engaged
to tour the US and Canada in 1913 at £150 a week. But when
she arrived with Dillon in New York they were refused entry and
detained on Ellis Island. An order for their deportation on the
grounds of moral turpitude (depravity) was issued, but
at the last moment the government ruled they could stay, as long
as they paid bail and on condition they did not cohabit.
By the time she got to Vancouver, public curiosity was intense.
Mayor T.S. Baxter sent licence inspector Charlie Jones around to
look at the show, and what Jones had to tell him prompted the mayor
to say that he was of the opinion that two of Marie Lloyds
songs might go all right in London, but Vancouver would not stand
The response of the theatre manager: I should worry. As of
Monday night every available seat in the Orpheum was sold.
That proof of Maries undeniable popularity had no effect
on Mayor Baxter. By Saturday he ordered her show closed. She went
on despite this, and tried to explain matters to the audience, but
broke down on the stage.
Hearing the insistent calls of the audience, a contemporary
newspaper report said, she again felt like responding, but
someone in the wings, she states, held her back.
The Smart Set
Despite the mayors orders, the
Vancouver Sun reported, there were those who wanted
to see her, particularly members of Vancouvers Smart Set.
They prevailed upon her to participate in the cabaret matinee at
the Hotel Vancouver, where she was loudly applauded.
(Note: this is the first Hotel Vancouver, long vanished, that stood
at Georgia and Granville.)
It seems Marie had been much aggrieved by an earlier Sun
story. She was really peeved, the paper confessed. She
said that she did not have to stick in this d____d place, and could
go back to London, which was more than residents in Vancouver could
do because they had to stick here.
The city editor just said Ha Ha. This roused her to greater
fury. Ha ha, she mocked, if I had your reporter
here I would knock him on his _______ nose.
Alas, she never got the chance: that reporter was off on a different
after leaving Vancouver Marie and her jockey got married at the
British consulate in Portland, Oregon.
During the First World War she toured hospitals and raised funds
for various good causes. But in 1919, at another Royal Command Performancethis
one held to celebrate the end of the warshe was again snubbed.
Although her popularity never declined, and her top-of-the-bill
status was never challenged, music hall historian Roy Busby
has written, her later career was not happy . . . [Her] marriage
was not a success.
By now she was earning up to £600 a week singing
the best character songs of her career. They included, Busby tells
us, Dont Dilly Dally; My Old Man Said Follow the
Van and One of the Ruins that Cromwell Knocked About a Bit.
By 1920 her health was broken, and she died October 7, 1922, aged
If she were alive today, Busby comments wryly, she
could have ended her career by singing I Did It My Way.
There is a good, brief and illustrated biographical note here.
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