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Allen, William Ernest (Chesney) (1894–1982), comedian and singer, was born at 7 Hamballa Road, Battersea, London, on 5 April 1894, the son of Edwin Allen, a prosperous builder, and his wife, Louisa, née Cridland. Allen's first employment on leaving school was as a solicitor's clerk. In 1912, at the age of eighteen, he made his début as an actor in repertory at the ...

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See Arne family

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

Ayliff, Mrs (fl. 1692–1696), singer and actress, was a leading stage and concert soprano but her forename, age, and marital status are unknown. She appears to have made her début in the première of Purcell's The Fairy Queen at Dorset Garden Theatre in May 1692, singing as a fairy ...

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Baddeley [née Snow], Sophia (1745?–1786), actress and singer, was born, according to her friend and biographer Elizabeth Steele, in the parish of St Margaret, Westminster, in 1745, the daughter of the trumpeter Valentine Snow (d. 1770). Her baptism is not recorded in the register of ...

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Sophia Baddeley (1745?–1786) by Johan Zoffany [as Fanny Sterling, with Robert Baddeley (right) as Canton and Thomas King (centre) as Lord Ogleby, in The Clandestine Marriage by George Coleman the elder and David Garrick] Garrick Club; the art archive

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Bannister, Charles (bap. 1741, d. 1804), actor and singer, was baptized at some time between May and October 1741 in Newland, Gloucestershire, the son of John Bannister and his wife, Rebecca Powell. He was brought up in Deptford, where his father worked in the victualling office for the ...

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Elizabeth Bannister (1757–1849) by John Russell, 1799 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bannister [née Harper], Elizabeth (1757–1849), actress and singer, was, according to the encomium in the Thespian Magazine (1793), the daughter of a Mrs Harpur, 'now a mantua-maker [dressmaker] at Bath', who, having made a marriage disapproved of by her family, educated her daughter perforce 'to her business' (...

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Bard, Wilkie [real name William August Smith] (1874–1944), music-hall performer, was born on 19 March 1874 at 19 Alderley Street, Hulme, Manchester, son of William Herbert Smith, a bookkeeper, and his wife, Marie Stetzer. He was educated in Manchester, first worked there in a cotton spinner's warehouse, and became well known as a concert singer, performing at such local venues as the ...

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Barrington, Rutland [real name George Rutland Barrington Fleet] (1853–1922), actor and singer, was born at Penge, Surrey, on 15 January 1853. He was the fourth son of John George Fleet, a wholesale sugar dealer in Fenchurch Street, London, and his wife, Esther...

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Beard, John (1716/17–1791), actor and singer, of unknown parentage and place of birth, is first recorded as one of the children of the Chapel Royal. He was well educated in music under Bernard Gates, master of the children of the Chapel Royal from 1727 to 1757, and was also taught Latin, mathematics, rhetoric, and history. ...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

Berry, Edward (1706/7–1760), actor and singer, made his first recorded appearance on the London stage at Drury Lane on 6 February 1729 as Hobinol in Charles Johnson's The Village Opera. For five seasons Berry was employed as a singing actor, primarily in the new genre of ballad opera. Unsuited by his large, heavy build and low-pitched voice for romantic leads, he played character roles such as Squire Clodpole in ...

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Black, Cilla [real name Priscilla White] (1943–2015), singer and television presenter, was born on 27 May 1943 at 380 Scotland Road, Liverpool, the daughter of John Patrick White (1904–1971), dock labourer, and his wife, Priscilla, née Blythen (1911–1996...

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Cilla Black (1943–2015), by Terry O'Neill, 1990s

© Iconic Images/Getty Images

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Blanchard, Thomas (1760–1797), actor and singer, baptized at Bulmer, Yorkshire, on 16 June 1760, was born into a theatrical family. His father, the elder Thomas Blanchard (fl. 1760–1787), was a seasoned actor who built a reputation for himself at York and Norwich...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

Bowman, John (d. 1739), singer and actor, was said to have been born at Pillerton, Warwickshire, on 27 December 1664, the son of John Bowman. However, he was stated to be in his eighty-eighth year when he died, implying that he was born in 1651 or 1652. His early stage career indicates a birth date of ...

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Bracegirdle, Anne (bap. 1671, d. 1748), actress and singer, was born in Northamptonshire, the third surviving daughter of Martha, née Furniss, and Justinian Bracegirdle, 'Coachman, Coachmaker or Letter-out of Coaches', according to her admirer Anthony Aston (Aston, 8). Family wills reveal that surviving siblings were named ...

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Anne Bracegirdle (bap. 1671, d. 1748) by William Vincent [as Semernia, the Indian queen, in The Widow Ranter by Aphra Behn] © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Brown, Georgia (1933–1992), singer and actress, was born Lilian Claire Klot on 21 October 1933 at 24 Underwood Street, Whitechapel, London, the daughter of Mark Klot, formerly Kleotz (1904–1981), fur cutter and part-time bookmaker, and his wife, Annie, née Kirschenbaum (1906–1988). At the time of her birth registration her parents lived at ...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

Butler, Charlotte (fl. 1674–1693), actress and singer, was said to have been 'the Daughter of a decay'd Knight' and recommended to the stage by Charles II, by whom she was named (Cibber, 97). The theatre prompter John Downes remembered that she joined the ...