Stories and comments
    • WYATT, Alice Matilda - War Worker
    • Posted by FrevFord, Wednesday, 2 May 2018

    Alice Matilda WYATT was born on the 14th of August 1882 in Albury, NSW – the daughter of William John WYATT and Jane E. FLEINER, who married in Albury, NSW in 1879 William, a Bookmaker, Commission Agent and a member of the Victorian Club, died on the 12/5/1915 at Beaufort, Vic, aged 59 Jane died at St John’s Wood, London on the 17/7/1918, aged 56 Sibling: Edith May b. 1886 Albury, NSW – Actress – marr Reginald C GOBLE (Stf Sgt, 6th Bn, AIF) 25/12/1919 Baptist Church, St John’s Wood, England – d.24/9/1926 Prahran, age 38 Alice was a Vaudevillian, who together with Miss Myra Hammon, were known as The Sandow Girls WW1: Following the outbreak of war, Alice, her sister Edie, and Myra Hammon, embarked on the Osterley for the UK, arriving on the 4/12/1914 After her father’s death in 1915, Alice’s mother also travelled to England, where she and her daughters kept an open house at St John’s Wood for the Australian soldiers. Alice also organised concert parties for the Anzac Buffet, Southall Hospital and Military Camps. She returned to Australia on the Orsova, embarking 18/7/1919 In the 1920s she spent four years in Hollywood as an actress Alice died on the 25th December, 1971 in Brighton, Vic, aged 89 (reg. in 1972) – and was cremated at Springvale Crematorium on the 13/1/1972 and her ashes scattered Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 6 Jul 1905 (p.32): Greenroom Gossip A cousin of Miss Carrie Moore, Miss Alice Wyatt, has joined the Stephenson Musical Comedy Company. Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 28 Dec 1905 (p.34): MISS ALICE WYATT [Photo] A pretty member of the George Stephenson Musical Comedy Company, and a cousin of Miss Carrie Moore. The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld), Thur 16 Aug 1906 (p.7): THEATRE ROYAL There was a fairly large attendance last evening at the Theatre Royal, in spite of the very unfavourable weather. Miss Hammon and Wyatt were very favourably received with their speciality. Weekly Times (Melb, Vic), Sat 17 Nov 1906 (p.8): Entertainments A couple of new features have been added to the Opera House bill. ………………………… The Misses Hammond and Wyatt are the other new arrivals who have joined the company. They appear as The Sandow Girls, and give a turn in which musical dumb-bell exercises are the main feature. Photo ‘Sandow Girls’ 1906: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/175380153 Sunday Times (Perth, WA), Sun 3 Feb 1907 (p.14): GOLDFIELDS GOSSIP The “Sandow Girls” at Cremorne were formerly identities, and no mere cyphers at that, in the chorus ranks of opera companies. Myra Hammon was with the Pollard Co., and Alice Wyatt was a show girl with J.C. Williamson’s Co. Their novel duet turn was suggested by the success of Carrie Moore and others as Sandow girls in the musical comedy of “The Dairymaids” at the Apollo Theatre, London. Misses Hammon and Wyatt dress exactly a la Carrie and Co. The Cremorne duo do look muscular – or beefy, which? The Sandow, Sandow girl! Is a priceless, peerless pearl! Even Sandow, I think, Would be frightened to wink At his Sandow girl. Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW), Wed 3 Apr 1907 (p.8): TRAM TROUBADOURS Olive Moore, sister of Carrie Moore, is regarded as a clever damsel, and her aunt, Mrs Wyatt, mother of Alice Wyatt, of the team Hammond and Wyatt (the London girls), is arranging for Olive’s musical training. Referee (Syd, NSW), Wed 16 Oct 1907 (p.12): GENERAL GOSSIP Alice Wyatt (Hammon and Wyatt, the “Sandow Girls”), writes from Christchurch: “We are booked with Fullers until after Christmas; then we go to South Africa and London. We are having a most successful season, the management and audiences being all that could be desired. We shall be quite sorry to leave New Zealand. We go to Dunedin for the opening of the Princess’s on the 12th. The Stagpoles and Salt Bush Bill will also be in the company. Morris and Wilson have been going big over here.” Sunday Times (Syd, NSW), Sun 25 Jul 1909 (p.6): AUSTRALIAN SANDOW GIRLS Miss Alice Wyatt, of Hammon and Wyatt, writing from London, say they are getting round a good deal. “We are having a most delightful time, as we are seeing England right at its best just now; the scenery is simply gorgeous. We worked the Empire, Liverpool (Moss and Stoll’s house) last week, and at the top of the bill was Miss Stella Mayhew, a grand American performer, whom you will probably see in Australia in a while. Hall and Whittaker and we two girls were at the bottom of the bill. Hill and Whittaker are as charming as ever, and Mrs Hill fairly brings down the house with a new song called “Glory,” composed by her husband. She ‘works’ it divinely. The Cabiacs were also in the same town, going splendidly. English audiences treat us fine; we just love working to them. All the Australians are doing well over here, and we are all so proud of one another’s success.” The Sun (Syd, NSW), Sun 20 Sept 1914 (p.14): CLIMBING THE LADDER AUSTRALIANS IN VAUDEVILLE “When Mira Hammon and I started,” said Alice Wyatt, one of the partners of Hammon and Wyatt, the two Australian girls who are appearing at the Tivoli, “we were the most modest people on the variety stage in the matter of salary. George Marlowe gave us our first engagement. It was to go to Newcastle. We considered that we were worth £3 a week, and looked upon that as a huge salary. When I saw George Marlowe he said, ‘What salary do you want?’ I swallowed hard, made my face look fierce, and said, ‘£12 a week.’ Poor Mr Marlowe nearly took an apoplectic fit. ‘Twelve pounds a week!’ he cried. ‘Why, I’ll give you four.’ “He had hardly got it out before I, so to speak, grabbed him with both hands and nailed him to it. We went to Newcastle for £4. At the end of that engagement we got a renewal at £6, and crept up to £8. Then we went to Brisbane for a few days, and stayed many weeks, working up to £12 a week, where we stuck. “One day I got an inspiration. I decided to write to Hyman, the South African manager, and ask for a contract – you know, a real signed, sealed, and delivered contract. I had heard English artists talking glibly of £25 and £35. So I asked for £35. “I had almost forgotten about it when a reply came from Hyman saying he could not pay £35, but would give us a contract for 12 weeks at £25 a week. I almost fainted for joy, and cabled at once accepting. The contract duly arrived, and – we were in Adelaide then – I used to carry it with me and say to people, ‘Mira and I are going to Africa for £25 a week.’ They would smile and say, ‘Sure it isn’t £250?’ Then I would grow indignant and say, ‘Well, here’s the contract. Read for yourself.’ Oh, those were great days – only seven years ago, too. “In Africa we heard more about salaries. We made no secret about our salary. We thought it huge, but found, to our disgust, that we were the lowest-paid artists on the circuit. The others told us. They would say, ‘Oh, you poor dears. Are you only getting £25 a week? Why, they’re paying us £60 – an act like yours ought to get £100.’ We believed them at first. Afterwards we discovered that they were only getting about £10 or £15. Oh, no; there’s no such thing as jealousy on the stage. Everybody just loves to know you’re getting more salary than she is.” Richmond Guardian (Vic), Sat 23 Feb 1918 (p.2): Under the Union Jack Corporal Charles (“Kingie”) Mitchell, of the 59th Battalion, abroad, an old Richmond boy, writes to a friend: “I am just on the finish of a perfect 13 days’ leave in Blighty, and can say I have had the time of my life. …………………………………………. so there endeth my first night’s experience in London on leave. Next day paid a visit to the Misses Edie and Alice Wyatt (better remembered by the Melbourne public as ‘The Sandow Girls’ at the Tivoli.) They are living with their mother at St John’s Wood, London, and what two fine girls they are, too. They were entertaining some gentlemen friends and a Miss Lil. Moore (Carrie’s sister). We had afternoon tea and later on spent a very fine evening, followed by an excellent supper. It was just like old times sitting around a big fire, and how our tongues did wag, first one and then the other, till we could hardly hear each other. It was, ‘Oh, Mr Mitchell, do you know so and so?’ and in nearly every instance I did. I had even known Miss Moore and her sister years ago, and so at the finish of the evening we all felt that we knew each other pretty well. Of course, I had a chat with Mrs Wyatt. I asked did she know my cousin, the one just over from America. There was excitement. He turned out to be a very old friend of the family – girls had been playmates together – so then I was in the boom. These girls have been wonderfully good to my little mate who lost his leg some time ago; he came to them as an absolute stranger, but they have done everything possible for him, and they think the world of him, too. He has learned to do most beautiful fancy work, and has gained a number of first prizes for it. He worked a rising sun on satin for Miss Wyatt; it is a grand piece of work, and she is justly proud of it. Any Australian wearing khaki is always sure of a warm welcome at the home of the ‘Sandow Girls.’ ………………………. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/93810993 The Age (Melb, Vic), Mon 16 Sept 1918 (p.1): DEATHS WYATT – On the 17th July, at St John’s Wood, London, Jane, the wife of the late William Wyatt, of the Victorian Club, loving mother of Alice and Edie, sister of Fred, Philip, Frank, Louis, Lizzie, Minnie and Anna, aged 56 years. Albury papers copy. At rest. – Inserted by her loving sister, Anna. The Mail (Adelaide, SA), Sat 30 Aug 1919 (p.3): PERSONAL Miss Alice Wyatt, known to many grateful soldiers as the “diggeress,” will return by the Orsova on Monday. The Wyatt House, “Australia,” at St John’s Wood, London, was the happy rendezvous of many “diggers” on leave and in Blighty hospitals. There was ever a real Australian welcome for them, and the old brown hat was sufficient introduction. At “Australia” a slouch hat was a “digger,” where there happened to be a staff officer or a private resplendent in a coating of Somme mud underneath. Miss Wyatt also did much in conjunction with other Australian theatrical people in London (including Misses L. and T. Pounds, L. Moore, M. Telfer, and Messrs F. Leslie and W.S. Percy) in organizing concert parties for the entertainment of the boys in hospital and in training camps. Many “diggers” will be glad of the opportunity to welcome this good Australian home. The Daily Telegraph (Syd, NSW), Wed 3 Dec 1919 (p.6): RETURN OF MISS WYATT A charming Australian, in the person of Miss Alice Wyatt, who will be remembered in Commonwealth theatrical circles, has returned to Sydney after five years of professional work in London and the provinces. Miss Wyatt left Australia at the outbreak of the war, and during its continuance has filled in all her time, with other Australian girls, in ministering to the wants of the Digger in London. She was attached to the Anzac Buffet and Southall Hospital as a regular worker, and during her tours of the provinces visited all the hospitals where Australians were invalided, arranging concerts and otherwise helping to enliven the tedium of convalescence for the wounded boys. Miss Wyatt and her mother, who has since died, and her sister, Edie, kept open house at Australia Home, Alexandra Road, St John’s Wood, where hundreds of Diggers enjoyed the hospitality of the Wyatt family. Miss Wyatt extols the virtues of the Digger. “He is the best thing in the world,” she avers, “and his appreciation and veneration for the women of his own country whom he met overseas was wonderful to witness. In all my experience,” she says, “I never knew one of them to do a disgraceful thing or to borrow a sixpence. All they wanted was a homelike kindness, and in spite of their ‘cheek’ they were the shyest things on the face of the earth.” Miss Wyatt speaks with enthusiasm of the work at the Anzac Buffet, of Mrs Ratigan, who was superintendent. Throughout the war Mrs Ratigan worked from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with only three weeks’ holiday – taken a day at a time – and whatever the boys wanted she always managed to secure for them. When funds ran short, she and Mrs McPherson financed the Buffet, and it was only by accident that anybody ever got to know about it. Mrs Evans was another indefatigable worker there, and Miss Wyatt declares that no three women in any sphere of war work did more in a practical way to help the soldiers than the trio just mentioned. Miss Wyatt’s concert party, which visited the military hospitals and camps throughout the war, was composed entirely of Australian girls, and was known everywhere as Alice Wyatt’s Concert Party. The personnel comprised Misses Maude Telfer, Lorna and Toots Pounds, Lucille Benstead, Lily Moore, Maggie and Lena Chisholm, Ada Gee, and Princess Iwa, the Maoriland songstress. Coming straight from a rationed country Miss Wyatt says the food on the average table in Australia strikes one as superabundant. Boots, she thinks, are comparatively cheap here after London prices. “I have seen awfully nice shoes in the windows for 25s,” she says. “In London nothing you could put on your feet was to be had at a price like that. Other clothing was dear over there, too, but judging from the windows, it seems equally expensive in Sydney.” The Sun (Syd, NSW), Tue 21 Sept 1926 (p.5): MONEY NEEDED – FILM ASPIRANTS WARNED No matter how brilliant an Australian girl going to Hollywood may be, she should have money behind her. That was the advice of Miss Alice Wyatt, a Sydney girl, on her return by the Sonoma to-day, after four years as a film actress at Hollywood. She said that the newcomer might secure engagement immediately, and, on the other hand, she might have to wait two years. The Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic), Thur 23 May 1929 (p.3): FILM STAR VISITS ECHUCA Was Also War Worker Miss Alice Wyatt, a guest at the American Hotel, who was for four years a resident of Hollywood, America, has many interesting anecdotes to relate of her experiences and associates, amongst whom she numbers as a close friend the inimitable Charlie Chaplin. ……………….. Miss Wyatt has appeared in many well-known productions, with famous stars. She was featured with Colleen Moore in many productions, and with many other stars. She visited Australia during her stage career with the Sandow Girls under contract with the Tivoli Theatre. She returned to England in October, 1914, and in 1915 decided to have an open house for all Australian soldiers during the war. Her home was at St John’s Wood, London, where thousands visited her. She also worked at the Anzac Hostel and Southall Hospital (the limbless hospital in London for Australians). She mentioned incidentally that if there are any of her soldier friends in this district, she would be delighted to meet them again. Miss Wyatt said that Australians are holding their own in Hollywood. Speaking of the “talkies,” Miss Wyatt expressed the opinion that they were just a passing craze. Personally she did not like them. She thought that the English would do quite well in the “talkie” productions. Miss Wyatt laughed at the idea which is fixed in the minds of many, that the people of Hollywood live a gay and fast life. The actors and actresses have to work very hard and take the greatest care of themselves, otherwise it would be impossible for them to appear before the camera. Douglas Fairbanks and his wife, Mary Pickford; Tom Mix, and many other heroes and heroines of the silver screen are known personally to Miss Wyatt. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/116250876 The Argus (Melb, Vic), Mon 2 Oct 1944 (p.8): FOR LIMBLESS SOLDIERS Principal artists of Tivoli companies will present a variety gala performance at Tivoli Theatre on Friday evening, to aid Limbless Soldiers’ Appeal. Miss Alice Wyatt and Mrs Wallace Mitchell’s younger set will be in charge of many novel features, for which attractive prizes will be awarded. The Age, 11 Jan 1972 (p.17): DEATHS WYATT, Alice – In loving memory of a dear friend. She will be sadly missed – Neil Shoebridge, Evie Hayes and Bill and Sophie Graves. The Age, Wed 12 Jan 1972 (p.17): DEATHS WYATT, Alice – Died 25th December, 1971, much loved friend of many people.