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Bert Bailey, aged 39. Source: Australian Postal History
Bert Bailey Bert Bailey i(A36140 works by) (a.k.a. Albert Edward Bailey)
Also writes as: Albert Edmunds
Born: Established: 11 Jun 1868 Auckland, Auckland (Region), North Island,
New Zealand,
Pacific Region,
; Died: Ceased: 30 Mar 1953 Darlinghurst, Kings Cross area, Inner Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
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Albert Edward Bailey was second son of farmer Christopher Bailey and Harriette Adelaide (née Colgan). His parents separated not long after his birth, however, and he was raised in Sydney by his mother, who moved there in the late-1860s or early-1870s, and her second husband, whom she married in 1879. Bert attended Crown Street School and Cleveland Street Public School, but left at age fifteen. Having decided not to work in his mother and step-father's drapery business (established in 1998) he initially worked as a telegram boy and floor manager at Crystal Palace skating rink before trying his hand at the variety stage as a descriptive vocalist.

In 1889 Bailey joined the touring theatrical company of Edmund Duggan, playing a wide variety of roles throughout Australia. In 1900 he and Duggan joined the company of high profile theatre producer and entrepreneur William Anderson, who was Duggan's brother-in-law. Seven years later Bailey and Duggan wrote The Squatter's Daughter; Or, The Land of the Wattle (1907) under the joint pseudonym "Albert Edmunds." This was produced by Anderson to great success and was adapted into a film in 1910, which Bailey directed as well as appeared in.

Bailey and Duggan collaborated on a number of follow up plays (with both men also acting in the productions), including The Man from Outback (1909), On Our Selection (1912), an adaptation of the stories of Steele Rudd and The Native Born (1913). Of these the most popular and lasting was On Our Selection. Bailey would perform the role of Dad Rudd on and off for the rest of his career.

In 1912 Bailey ended his 12 year association with Anderson and went into partnership with his business manager, Julius Grant. Together they leased Anderson's King's Theatre and managed one of the strongest theatrical entrepreneurial teams in Australia. Over the remainder of the decade and in to the 1920s Bailey and Grant produced many Australian plays and several big budget pantomimes. Bailey also frequently toured with his own dramatic company. He and Grant did suffer some commercial failures, such as a season of plays by William Shakespeare and a 1920 production of On Our Selection in London. Among their big successes were the pantomimes they produced in association with J. and N. Tait - notably Jack and Jill (1918), Mother Hubbard (1919), and Sinbad the Sailor (1920).

After touring in the Barry Conners' play The Patsy for 23 weeks in 1929, Bailey retired from performing, believing that talking films were making theatre unprofitable. He was induced to come out of retirement in 1932 by Stuart F. Doyle, however, when offered the opportunity to revive Dad Rudd in the a film version of On Our Selection. Bailey also co-wrote the screenplay and received £400 plus 60% of the profits. It is estimated that by the end of 1934 his share was close to £14,000.

Bailey played Dad Rudd in three more films, while also contributing to the script. All four Rudd films were directed by Ken G. Hall. After Dad Rudd, MP (1940), Bailey once again retired, this time as a wealthy man. He is believed to have come out of retirement again only once, making a cameo appearance in a propaganda short made for the war effort, South West Pacific (1943). In his Australian Dictionary of Biography entry Andrew Pike records that in his leisure Bailey 'enjoyed boating and bowls and was a member of the Savage Club, Melbourne, and Tattersall's and Rose Bay Bowling clubs, Sydney. Predeceased by his wife in 1932 [he was] survived by his only daughter, [and] died on 30 March 1953 at his home at Darlinghurst' ('Bailey, Albert Edward, 1868-1953')

Most Referenced Works


  • Albert Edmunds is the writing name used for collaborations between Bert Bailey and Edmund Duggan.

  • Bailey's mother's business was the well-known firm McCathie's.

  • A number of secondary sources, possibly citing Frank Van Straten (2007), record that Bailey worked in vaudeville before joining Edmund Duggan's company in 1889 (aged 21), and identify the Canterbury Music Hall in George Street, Sydney as the venue where he 'eventually faced the footlights as a descriptive singer' (Van Straten, 'Bert Baily 1868-1953.' Live Performance Australia Hall of Fame).

    New research using Trove (National Library of Australia's digital newspaper service) argues, however, that Bailey could not have made his debut at the theatre when it operated as the Canterbury Music Hall, because it did become known by that name until June 1890. Prior to then it was the Haymarket Theatre (aka The Haymarket Palace of Varieties). The venue did not retain the Canterbury for long, either. No details regarding its operations as a theatre have been located after April 1891, when its lease (including several adjoining shops) was put up for auction.

  • Bert Bailey's and Edmund Duggan's unpublished play "The Squatter's Daughter" was adapted as a novel by Hilda Bridges. It was also made into a film by William Anderson in 1910, with another version by Ken Hall in 1933 (which is held at ScreenSound Australia).

  • This entry has been sourced from research undertaken by Dr Clay Djubal into Australian-written popular music theatre (ca. 1850-1930). See also the Australian Variety Theatre Archive

Last amended 21 Nov 2016 11:28:26
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