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Desmond, Florrie [real name Florence Elizabeth Dawson] (1905–1993), actor and impersonator, was born Florence Elizabeth Dawson on 31 May 1905 at 64 Bride Street, Lower Holloway, London, the daughter of George Dawson, a bootmaker who loved the theatre, and his wife, Ada Baker...

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Florrie Desmond (1905–1993) by Dorothy Wilding, 1930s © Tom Hustler / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Errol, Bert [real name Isaac Whitehouse] (1883–1949), singer and female impersonator, was born on 11 August 1883 at 106 Aston Road, Aston, Birmingham, the son of Isaac Whitehouse, brass lock founder, and his wife, Elizabeth Griffiths. He began his career in Birmingham...

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Bert Errol (1883–1949) by unknown photographer, c. 1930 Getty Images

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Jameson [formerly Coster], Rex [performing name Mrs Shufflewick] (1924–1983), comedian and female impersonator, was born at Southend-on-Sea on 11 June 1924 of unknown parentage. Dumped as a baby on a police station doorstep, he was taken in and fostered by a ...

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King, Hetty [real name Winifred Emms; first married name Lotinga; second married name Lamond] (1883–1972), music hall performer and male impersonator, was born in Wallasey, Cheshire, on 21 April 1883 (d. cert). No birth certificate has been located. She was the second daughter of ...

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Ella Shields (1879–1952) by unknown photographer, c.1910 © Getty Images

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Shields, Ella [real name Ella Catherine Buscher] (1879–1952), music-hall performer and male impersonator, was born on 26 September 1879 in the Canton district of Baltimore, Maryland, USA, the daughter of Timothy Edward Buscher (d. in or before 1906), victualler; details of her mother, who was of Irish descent, are unknown. Precisely when and why she adopted the performing name ...