REVIEW of REVIEWS

Bernhardt Was Curious Puzzle

English Comedian Tells Some Amusing Stories Concerning Stage Celebrities.

JOHN O'LANDON'S WEEKLY November 1 1927
REVIEW of REVIEWS

Bernhardt Was Curious Puzzle

English Comedian Tells Some Amusing Stories Concerning Stage Celebrities.

JOHN O'LANDON'S WEEKLY November 1 1927

Bernhardt Was Curious Puzzle

English Comedian Tells Some Amusing Stories Concerning Stage Celebrities.

JOHN O'LANDON'S WEEKLY

TO many, the name Arthur Roberts will convey nothing; to others who, either from residence in England in the early 1900's or by visits to the London of that period, had the privilege of seeing this inimitable, comedian perform, the following anecdotes, taken from Robert’s book. 'Fifty Years of Spoof’, will be recognized as typical of the man. As this:

1 was at the theatre one morning when the stage doorkeeper came up to me and said: 'There is a gentleman outside who wants to speak to you.’ 1 replied immediately that l could see no one without an appointment. The attendant retired and appeared again with a letter I had written saying that l would give attention to a song the bearer wished to sell me if he would call on me one day. I like to keep my promises, so 1 asked my partner, Lowenfeld. if he would excuse me for a moment, and l told the doorkeeper to show the man to the stage.

"He arrived. He was a private in the K A M.C. His hair was cropped close like that of a convict. He wore a short, red cutaway coat., thick blue trousers, and* heavy boots. He marched on the stage as if he were marching on parade, pulled up short, and saluted.”

The author-soldier took the manuscript from his pocket by a series of military jerks and saluted every time Roberts spoke to him. He was asked how much he wanted for the song. “Ten shillings,” replied the unknown soldier, with the invariable salute.

No.” said Roberts. “I will not give you ten shillings for it—I will give you ten pounds for it now.”

The song was a great and immediate success, and the author was no other than Edgar Wallace!

The remarkable circumstances of the birth of the play 'The Bells of Haslemere’ are described by Roberts. George R. Sims and Henry Pettitt, the authors of the play, arranged to give a reading to the brothers Gatti, the prominent theatrical proprietors. Sims read badly, very badly. First one of the brothers was lulled into a deep and health-giving sleep, and then the other followed. Sims, with his doleful chant, continued his lullaby. Pettitt was at length exasperated beyond control. "He jumped up, snatched the copy from the astonished playwright’s hands, muttered something about George having got hold of the wrong manuscript, and started some fiery rhetoric of his own creation. The piot and the substance of it was a shipwreck, a fire, a murder, and an abducted girl.”

Pettitt shouted the details of this suddenly-evolved drama and wakened first one ar.d then the other brother from slumber. The play was accepted. Outside. Pettitt gave Sims a piece of his mind and then tried tc recall the scenes from the drama he had invented with such effect. They oc.h developed the theme, 'The Beils of Haslemere'' was a great

Roberts was very much impressed with Sarah Bernhardt. Before he met her he learned a short speech in good French: ntt a spoof speech this úme, a real one. The great Bernhardt was grateful. “Madame Sarah Bernhardt drenched me in a t * rrent of most eloquent words, and gesr. "Fated with a passion and vivacity -mich I have never seen surpassed. What did this portend? Was she criticizing the deplorable state of the Royal Academy? W as see praising the latest work of Oscar Wilde? Was she protesting against some of the hideous statues in London? . . .

No. She was not. Most emphatically she was not.”

She was telling Roberts that England was blessed by a great artiste, the greatest product of her time. “No other country in this world,” she said, wich tears in her eyes, "has got an artiste equal to your Marie Lloyd!"

Harris, the Sausage King! What, a figure for a modern Fielding! However, Mr. Roberts, with his amazingly facile pen, has captured Harris in a vivid vignette. Harris was short, genial and patriotic. He wore evening dress and an opera hat by day, and his shirt was studded with mammoth diamonds. In one or two of his many pockets he always carried

samples of his sausages. Roberts met him on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Celebration.

“Wonderful woman, the Queen, Arthur, wonderful woman . . . Just think of ’er record, my boy. She’s been be’ind the counter now for fifty years and never given the wrong change yet. ’Ere, take a packet of sausages, my boy, to celebrate the event.”

London was terrified by revolutionary orators. John Burns, in his red tie, was at his fiercest. He had shouted himself hoarse in Trafalgar Square. Harris met him, handed him a pound of sausages, saying: “Eat these, old chap. Perhaps they’ll keep you quiet for a day or two.”