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Photo courtesy of the Mitchell Library (Australian Variety 27 May 1914)
Arthur Tauchert Arthur Tauchert i(A118951 works by)
Born: Established: 1877 Waterloo, South Sydney area, Sydney Southern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 1933 Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
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Endman, comic, singer, acrobat, film actor.

Arthur Tauchert was born in 1877 in the inner Sydney suburb of Waterloo to Frederick and Norah Tauchert. His sister Ida Tauchert (aka Ida Rosslyn) was a well-known minstrel singer from the 1890s onwards and also the wife of Jack 'Porky' Kearns. While Arthur Tauchert's career on the professional variety stage most likely began in the late 1890s, his earliest appearance located so far was in 1907, when he appeared at the Theatre Royal (Brisbane) under the management of Ted Holland. His career between 1907 and 1914 saw him also associated with James Brennan, J. C. Bain, Dix-Baker (Newcastle), and Harry Clay among other managements. Tauchert maintained a regular association with Clay up until 1919, touring Queensland for his company in 1915. Although he mostly presented a specialist solo act, at various times during his career Tauchert teamed up with other comics, including Albert McKisson (ex-McKisson and Kearns), Bert Corrie, Ted Tutty, and Ern Delavale. After appearing in several motion pictures beginning in 1916, he secured the lead role (Bill) in the hugely successful film The Sentimental Bloke (1919), an Australian film based on the poems by C.J. Dennis. His performance in that film saw him become one of Australia's first movie stars. He appeared in a number of films over the next decade, including Ginger Mick (1920), but with the demise of vaudeville and the arrival of the new talkie stars, Tauchert's career effectively ended by the late 1920s. He died in poverty in 1933.


1877-1912: A leading vaudeville performer who became one of Australia's first film stars, Arthur Tauchert's career on the variety stage also saw him work with virtually every leading management operating in Australia at the time. Renowned mainly for his comic turns and fine tenor voice (he specialised in Irish songs and divers' ditties), Tauchert was also known to perform acrobatics, including neck and shoulder somersaults. An Australian Variety review of his stage turn in 1914 provides a brief insight into both his performance and reception: 'Arthur Tauchert, the man in the black suit, brown suit, white suit, and not forgetting the purple vest, simply holds the theatre as he likes. By the way he is received, it looks as if he is going to be a landmark at Clay's for some considerable time' (20 May 1914, n. pag.). Despite his considerable reputation and eventual film-star status, almost nothing of Tauchert's early life and career up until 1907 has been identified at this stage, apart from some basic birth details. Furthermore, his life and career after the mid-late 1920s also remains a mystery.

What can be surmised from current research is that Tauchert most likely entered the variety profession in the mid-late 1890s through the influence of his older sister, Ida. His first appearances found to date were in 1907 for James Brennan (Sydney) and Ted Holland (Brisbane). The Brisbane Courier records that 'Mr Arthur Tauchert, another of the great army of eccentric comedians also made his initial bow to Brisbane with the results satisfactory to himself and the audience. His turns were breezy and laughable throughout' (2 Dec. 1907, p.3). Over the next three years he appears to have alternated his Brennan engagements with appearances for other companies - notably Luscas' New Tivoli Vaudeville Co (Tasmania) and Lennon, Hyman and Lennon (Adelaide).

In June 1909, while appearing in Adelaide, he briefly teamed up with his brother-in-law's ex-partner, Albert McKisson. Although the Brisbane Courier notes the pair were appearing 'after a fairly long absence' (18 Apr. 1910, p.6), there is no evidence that their earlier engagements were as a partnership. The act does not appear to have been a long one, however, as McKisson is not billed with Tauchert's during the latter's Harry Clay appearance at the Royal Standard (Sydney) in mid-September 1920, or his return engagement at the National Amphitheatre for James Brennan the following month.

In terms of his status by this stage of his career Tauchert was working alongside many high-profile Australian-based performers, often as one of the company principals. Such performers included Maud Fanning, Ted Tutty, and Arthur Elliott (Clay's circuit); Priscilla Verne and Tommy Armstrong; the Driscoll Brothers; Morris and 'Redhead' Wilson; and Florrie and Stella Ranger.

1913-1915: In 1913, Tauchert spent much of the year with J. C. Bain at the Princess Theatre, while also working briefly for other managements. He appeared, for example, in Newcastle around October/November for Dix-Baker. 1913 also brought with it the birth of his son, Jack. He was back at Harry Clay's Bridge Theatre (Newtown) the following year, briefly forming a partnership with Ern Delavale while his onstage partner Will Gilbert recovered from a serious bout of acute sciatica and rheumatism. Australian Variety records in July 1914 that 'Tauchert has had a varied career with several partners, but this is the first time he has entered into a legitimate partnership' (8 July 1914, p.13). Their act does not appear to have lasted long, however, as Tauchert was back doing solo work and touring his own Refined Vaudeville Company by October. His reputation by then was such that he was able to call on experienced local artists such as Lyla Thompson, Pearl Smaile, Sutton and Jamieson, and Maud Stewart to give the company a good deal of credibility. The troupe is known to have toured through the Hunter Valley around October 1914, including a season at Newcastle's King's Hall under the management of Dix-Baker. One critic wrote of his act around this period that 'Arthur Tauchert... was the usual riot; as a knock-about endman he stands alone, some of his falls being almost real' (Australian Variety 21 Oct. 1914, n. pag.).

Back with Harry Clay in early February 1915, Tauchert briefly teamed up with Ted Tutty, one of the entrepreneur's longest-serving and most popular comedians. Australian Variety wrote of one of their Bridge Theatre appearances that year, 'Ted Tutty and Arthur John McCormick Tauchert again supplied the comedy and were the usual scream of the bill' (17 Feb. 1915, p.3). A month later, Tauchert undertook an engagement touring Queensland for Clay. Variety notes that he was 'the riot of each town [with] his class of business having caught on' (28 Apr. 1915, p.3), while the Toowoomba Chronicle records that 'Arthur Tauchert is a tower of strength in the company. Clever and experienced, his "Pilgrims of the Night," in the first part (with encore) and contributory aid in the second session were heartily enjoyed' (6 Apr. 1915, p.6). Ipswich-based newspaper the Queensland Times reports a few days later, 'Comedian Arthur Tauchert in his original song "Jig-a-Jig" simply brought the house down. He certainly enhanced his already fine reputation' (12 Apr. 1915, p.7). During the year, Tauchert also teamed up with Bert Corrie to put over a popular patter act.

1916-1919: Although only a few details regarding Arthur Tauchert's whereabouts between 1916 and 1918 have been located to date, it is likely that Harry Clay's considerable circuit expansion throughout Sydney and along the south-west NSW railway line would have given him regular employment opportunities. It is believed, too, that he worked on occasion for Bert Howard in Sydney (ca. 1916) and at some stage returned to touring his own variety company around Sydney and the Hunter Valley. By May 1916, Tauchert had also started to become involved in the local film industry. One of his first prominent screen roles, an unidentified film by Jack Galvin, led Australian Variety to call him 'the new comedian of the movies.' The magazine also describes the shooting of one particularly dangerous stunt, which nearly resulted in the actor's death:

When Arthur Tauchert.... was about to dive into the water (at the water jump) at the Agricultural Ground, when somebody told him that the water was over four-feet deep. Allowing for that depth, Arthur took a 'header,' and was lucky he didn't crack his neck as the juice was barely eighteen inches deep! In a subsequent scene, when Jack Galvin throws Tauchert and Walter Jamieson out of the Showground, the big fellow (who weighs about 300 lbs) walked on Arthur's hand, and broke the fore-finger. Notwithstanding the fact that he was a fit subject for a hospital, Tauchert was so enthusiastic over the movie business, and put up such a showing, that it is quite likely he will forsake vaudeville for the films (3 May 1916, n. pag.).

Tauchert's big opportunity came in 1918, when Raymond Longford cast him in the lead role of The Sentimental Bloke. Shot during the middle of the year, the film was released in early 1919 and received rave reviews for both its production and Tauchert's role as Bill 'the bloke.' One critic even suggested that his acting in the locally made movie was a revelation, going on to say that a 'fabulous amount has been offered by a leading theatrical firm for the rights of the said film' (Australian Variety 3 Jan. 1919, p.4). By the end of the year, Tauchert's star was well and truly on the rise, with his performance in the film roundly praised. Taking advantage of his popularity, Harry Clay offered him top billing on his Sydney circuit, which at that time included the Gaiety and Princess theatres. His Princess Theatre performance led the Theatre to record that 'Arthur Tauchert with a taking makeup is good in his offering in the first part. As a supposed wild Indian he greatly helps along the concluding farce' (June 1919, p.25). He also appeared on numerous other bills around the country, including Frank Reis's Sydney circuit and Rowley Martin's operations at the Coronation Theatre in Leichhardt. The Sentimental Bloke's huge success provided Longford with the incentive to begin production on Ginger Mick, which was based on C. J. Dennis's companion poem The Moods of Ginger Mick. The film became another pivotal career moment for Tauchert, who was once again cast as Bill, and further cemented his reputation around the country as 'the sentimental bloke.' Ginger Mick also saw Tauchert's five-year-old son, Jack, make his first film appearance. Tauchert appeared in at least eight more films over the course of the next decade.

1920-1933: Despite his heavy film schedule, Tauchert continued to perform regularly in vaudeville theatres. Following his engagement on Frank Reis's circuit in late 1919, he joined Reg 'The Kangaroosta' Thornton's company. His first engagements with the K-Nuts are believed to have been in the New South Wales Blue Mountains in early 1920. The troupe then travelled to Melbourne sometime around May. A few months later, he and his wife had another child, a daughter, with the event announced in Australian Variety (29 July 1920, p.1). By the end of the year, he was on the bill at the Empire Theatre in Brisbane. His contract with Fullers is believed to have continued well into 1921. Over the next three years, Tauchert accepted engagements with various firms, notably Bert Howard. J.C. Bain also secured his services as a headline act in October 1924, shortly after opening at Wirth's Sydney Hippodrome. Tauchert was back with Bert Howard in early December that year, but announced that it would be his farewell, as he intended to shortly go into a sporting business (Everyone's 3 Dec. 1924, p.36; 17 Dec. 1924, p.35). However, this venture does not appear to have eventuated. Indeed, not only was he back on Howard's program by the end of the month (Everyone's 31 Dec. 1924, p.32), but he also continued to entertain the manager's suburban audiences up until early May the following year. He then left for Brisbane to take up a role in a film being shot there by Australian Film Productions Ltd (Everyone's 13 May 1925, p.37).

Although he appeared in a number of films up until the early 1930s, Tauchert found it more difficult to obtain employment opportunities on the variety stage, as the industry itself began to collapse under the weight of competition from film exhibitors, and he fell on hard times. Having tasted success as one of Australia's top entertainers and one of its first film stars, Tauchert, like many of his peers, found the post-variety boom years difficult to survive. While some, like Jack Cannot, took their own lives, Arthur Tauchert turned to alcohol and eventually became destitute. Isadore Brodsky (q.v.) offers an insight into his final days when recalling the last of Sydney's poverty points (at Marshall's corner in Park Street). He writes, '"The Sentimental Bloke," Arthur Tauchert, faltered at this spot right under the lamp-post. An old man saw him in his cups on an ill-starred day when he was brimming with pugilism. His challenge went out to Griffo, of all people. Griffo stood to one side and chopped him on the jaw. Then he went back to leaning on the lamp post' (pp.106-7). Tauchert passed away in 1933, less than a year after appearing in his final film. He is buried in Waverley Cemetery.

Although almost no historical attention has been directed at Arthur Tauchert, despite the significant part he played in Australia's early film industry, it is clear that his contemporaries considered him to be among the country's top entertainers. One prominent American singer, Lou London, even said of him: 'I consider Arthur Tauchert one of the most original individuals I have met; he is also one of the best-dispositioned men I have ever had the pleasure of working alongside.' London backed his opinion shortly before returning home by giving Tauchert the exclusive Australasian rights to all the songs he had worked in Australia, as well as several he had not performed (Everyone's 12 Oct. 1921, p.20).

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Last amended 19 Mar 2015 09:43:00
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