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Sylvia Grey

Birthdate: (92)
Death: May 6, 1958 (92)
Managed by: Michael Lawrence Rhodes
Last Updated:

About Sylvia Grey

<The Times, May 7, 1958>


THE death yesterday of Miss Sylvia Grey, who would have been 93 on May 18, severs perhaps the last remaining link with the Gaiety Theatre in the great days of John Hollingshead, George Edwardes, and Nellie Farren, for it is over 70 years since she first established her position as the principal dancer of the theatre and became the toast of the town.

Her task then was no easy one for she was joining the company as the successor of one of the greatest dancers of the period, Kate Vaughan, and Nellie Farren was firmly established as the queen of the musical comedy stage.

Her first appearance at the Gaiety in 1885 was in "Little Jack Sheppard", the last burlesque which John Hollingshead accepted for production. She was immediately hailed as a delightful dancer who could worthily carry on Kate Vaughan's tradition and practically the whole of her career was spent at the original Gaiety Theatre. She was re-engaged for the next production, "Monte Cristo", in a company which included Nellie Farren, Fred Leslie, and E.J. Lonnen, and then for "Frankenstein", in which as the Goddess of the Sun, supported by the Gaiety Girls as minor goddesses, she wore wonderful costumes which became the talk of the town.

A world tour which lasted for 18 months followed and it recorded that when she reappeared at the Gaiety in "Ruy Blas and the Blase Roue", one of the greatest successes in the history of the theatre, she was greeted with salvoes of cheers.

This was the last entertainment in which Nellie Farren appeared at the Gaiety. Before the next production she had been stricken with illness and one of Sylvia Grey's most cherished possessions was a letter written to her by Miss Farren, who, although herself very ill, wished Miss Grey a speedy recovery from an illness from which she was suffering. Miss Grey regained her health and made a considerable success in "Cinder Ellen Up-Too-Late", which included a burlesque of the T.W. Robertson farce "School", which gave her a good opportunity to act as well as to dance in her usual inspired fashion.

In the autumn of 1892 she migrated to the Prince of Wales's Theatre to appear with Arthur Roberts and Florence St. John in "In Town", which soon moved to the Gaiety and became a great success. One of the few complaints which the critics made against it was that Sylvia Grey was not given enough dancing.

She was also seen in "Don Juan" before she retired from the stage, but to the end of her long life she retained her lively interest in the theatre and the players. Mr. Macqueen-Pope in his history of the Gaiety Theatre recalls that fact that on the occasion of the last "first night" at the New Gaiety the audience included "a very gracious lady to whom everyone paid the greatest deference." For she had been a star of the Gaiety prior to her retirement and her name was Sylvia Grey. It was fitting that one of the stars of the old Gaiety should come to the last first night of the New Gaiety. When he was entertained at a Foyle's luncheon to mark the publication of the book, Sylvia Grey had a honoured place at the top table. In spite of her great age she resolutely refused to grow old and to the end she retained a wide circle of friends who delighted in her anecdotes of the halcyon days of Gaiety burlesque.


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Sylvia Grey's Timeline

May 18, 1865
May 6, 1958
Age 92