Source: Australian Variety Theatre Archive
George Wallace Revue Company i(23 works by) (Organisation) assertion
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One of Australia's most popular variety and revusical comedians of the 1920s, George Wallace first came to prominence in 1919 through his association with Sydney-based variety entrepreneur Harry Clay. Initially working either solo or in an act with his wife, Wallace established a knockabout comedy partnership with Jack Paterson in 1920, called Dinks and Oncus. The two comedians went on to become arguably the most popular act on Clay's circuit for the four years they were together. In addition to their vaudeville act, Wallace and Paterson also appeared in revusicals on Clay's circuit. Following their split in late 1923, Wallace accepted an engagement from Fullers' Theatres Ltd to play an extended engagement in Dunedin, New Zealand. When he returned to Australia mid-way through 1924, he put together a revusical troupe that soon became one of the four leading Australian-based companies of the post-World War One era, the others being Nat Phillips' Stiffy and Mo Company, Bert Le Blanc's Travesty Stars, and the Jim Gerald Revue Company.

The George Wallace Revue Company played its first-ever season in Australia at the Fullers' Majestic Theatre, situated in the inner-city suburb of Newtown, beginning 9 August 1924. Following a four-month run at Adelaide's Majestic Theatre, the Fullers brought the troupe back to Sydney to play a season at the prestigious Fullers' Theatre, and from that point on, George Wallace's Revue Company was positioned within the Fullers' organisation as one of its headline acts. Over the next five years, the troupe toured the Fullers' Australasian circuit consistently, with the exposure helping to turn Wallace into one of the country's most popular comedians. The New Zealand tours were undertaken in 1927-1928 and 1928-1929). In addition to writing the scripts (and often one or more songs) and playing the lead role in his shows, Wallace also directed each production. He would also sometimes help provide the scenic art and play an instrument on stage, notably piano or guitar.

Among the more popular revusicals staged by the George Wallace Revue Company were Harmony Row and His Royal Highness (both later adapted into films), The Oojah Bird, Lads of the Village, Off Honolulu), Alpine Antics, and The Pickled Porter.

Reviews published over the course of the company's career with the Fullers suggest that there was no reduction in interest by the public, despite the rising popularity of film. Reports from New Zealand in 1929, for example, indicate that the company was still pulling capacity crowds fifteen weeks after it commenced its tour. Upon returning to Australia in late 1929, Wallace ended his association with the Fullers and undertook a fifteen-week engagement at Melbourne's Tivoli Theatre, which ended in early 1930. He then played a season in Adelaide, followed by Sydney (returning to his old stamping ground the Bridge Theatre at Newtown), Perth, and the West Australian goldfields. After finishing up in Kalgoorlie in mid-December he and his company then travelled back to the east to open in Newcastle for Christmas. The post-Melbourne tour was produced under the direction of Harry R. Kitching (former Australian Variety critic and husband of Amy Rochelle.

Although Wallace's career in the 1930s is chiefly remembered for his film career, he nevertheless continued taking a company on the road whenever his commitments allowed. His last known appearance with the revue company was in 1934.



    All dates shown below are established years only. In some instances, people may have been associated with the company prior to or after the dates shown, but these years have not yet been identified.

    As with Stiffy and Mo, Bert Le Blanc, and Jim Gerald, much of George Wallace's popularity can also be put down to the remarkable talents of his fellow performers and, notably, long-serving troupe member Marshall Crosby, who often played the comedian's on-stage foil. The initial company, as formed in 1924, also included Harry Burgess (ex-American Burlesque Co), Tom Lincoln, George Lloyd, Nellie Dean, Jacky White, Rene Albert, Marie Nyman, Pat Reid, and a chorus known as The Six Twinklers. Over the years, he also engaged such local stars as Sadie Gale (the pair were romantically linked for a brief period), Ivy Moore, Lulla Fanning, Ada Scaddan, Fred 'Check' Hayes, Frank Haining, and Bert and Evelyn Dudley. Many of these performers remained with Wallace for years at a time, providing him with an ensemble that could readily adapt whenever the lead comedian began improvising. It also allowed his revusicals to develop more rounded characters, an issue of some significance in a genre even more hampered by storytelling time than the musical. That his company remained so stable over the years, despite the rigours of touring Australia and New Zealand--it played the Dominion circuit at least three times during the 1920s (1924, 1927-28, and 1928-29)--suggests that it was more than ably run by its charismatic leader.

    1.1. Principal troupe members between 1924 and 1934 were Harry Burgess (1924-1925), Bunny Cannan (1928), Keith Connelly (1929-1930), Marshal Crosby (1924-1930), Nellie Dean (1924-1925), John V. Dobbie (1929-1930), Bert Dudley (1929-1930 ), Tup Dudley (1929-1930), Mercia Elliott (1925), Lulla Fanning (1925), Tom Foggitt (1928), Sadie Gale (1925), Jack Grant (1929-1930), Frank Haining (1925-1928), Frederick 'Check' Hayes (1925), Maida Jones (1928), Tom Lincoln (1924-1928), George Lloyd (1924-1925), Georgie McGrath (1928), Gwen Matthews (1929-1930), Ivy Moore (1925), Olga Muir (1924), Marie Nyman (1924-1928), Pat Reid (1924), Leonard Rich (1929-1930), Jim Romaine (1929-1930), Lena Ryan (1925), Ada Scaddan (1925-1928), Bebe Scott (1929-1930), Jack Scott (1928), Irene Shamrock (1929-1930), Alec Thompson (1928), Bert Tucker (1928), Jacky White (1924-1925).

    1.2. Chorus/ballet members between 1924 and 1934 included Isobel Broadfoot (1925), Thelma Buxton (1928), Rene Langton (1928), Phyllis Lough (1925), Ivy Moyle (1928), Betty Norber (1928), Olive Partridge (1928), Sybil Rudd (1928), Hilary Salmon (1925), Eileen Smith (1925), Alma Stewart (1925), Doris Whimp (1925).

    1.3. Occasional or special guest performers included Baby Myrtle Gourlay (1930) and The Two Dalys (1928).

    1.4. Musicians and musical ensembles included The Five Flaming Youths (1928-1930).

  • 1.5. Additional notes and/or historical clarification:

    • Mercia Elliot and Lulla Fanning were daughters of high-profile minstrel performers Arthur Elliott (comedian) and Maud Fanning (coon singer).
    • Maurice Diamond: employed as Wallace's choreographer ca. 1929-1930.
    • Georgie McGrath is sometimes referred to as George.
    • Bebe Scott: George Wallace's half-sister, she married English radio actor George Randall. For five years during the 1930s, she and Randall presented the children's radio program The Cap and Bebe Show on the ABC Brisbane radio station 4QG.

  • Entries connected with this record have been sourced from on-going historical research into Australian-written music theatre and film being conducted by Dr Clay Djubal.
Last amended 1 Oct 2015 17:00:08
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