Friday, 14 January 2011

Toole in America

Whilst John was a hit both in the UK and also in his tour of Australia and New Zealand, in contrast his sense of humour did not seem to go down that well in the USA.

Toole and the London Theatres

Toole started his professional acting career in London, and then from  Edinburgh spent most of his acting career in London's West End.  Besides this he toured America as well as Australia and New Zealand.  Right now I want to explore his London exposure, which is undoubtedly where he has his major stage success.

Theatres in Victorian London: "Thus ended the memorable history of a playhouse whose stage had seen such nineteenth-century London theatre notables as Hayden Coffin, Henry Irving, Madge Robertson, Fred Lesley, Charles Danby, John Laurence Toole."

He was into the London Theatre scene so much that in the end he took over a theatre and had it named after him!  You can read more about this in the Toole's Theatre posting.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Toole and Irving

No decent description of J.L. Toole could be complete without a discussion around Henry Irving.  To say that they were good friends would be a complete understatement.  It could be argued that they even loved each other.  It could also be argued that Henry Irving owed his career to J.L. Toole.

What is true is that J.L.Toole left his main home at 44, Maida Vale in his will to Henry, though sadly Henry died a year earlier than John and so that clause in the will was not enacted.

Other People around Toole

I don't want this to sound disparaging, but clearly JL Toole has some very close friends.  nevertheless he was a gregarious fellow so here are references to other people who knew him.

VICTORIAN TURKISH BATHS: England: Leamington Spa: Royal Pump Rooms and Baths |: "Elson proudly mentions Fred Archer the jockey, Richard Proctor the astronomer, and the comedian J L Toole among the famous persons he looked after and shampooed."

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Toole's name

Throughout our own lives we are all called many names, properly or otherwise.  John Lawrence Toole is of course just the same.  However what is interesting to me is that his stage names changes.  He seemed to be referred to a Johnny in Australia and New Zealand. 

There are of course occasions for misspellings of his name.  Sometimes Johnnny is spelled as "Johnnie."  His middle name, Lawrence is sometimes misspelled as Laurence.

As to the proper form, his full name is John Lawrence William Toole.  Though most commonly he is known as John Lawrence Toole, or simply J.L. Toole.

Toole's Theatre (William IV Street)

John Lawrence Toole was unique in having one of London's West End theatre named after him.

From Theatres in Victorian London we read, originally 'The Charing Cross Music Hall' (1869), this very minor playhouse hosted J. S. Clarke's revival of Sheridan's The Rivals in 1872, featuring Mrs. Stirling as Mrs. Malaprop, The role that made her famous. Renamed 'The Folly Theatre' by new owner Alexander Henderson in 1876, it became a burlesque house. On 7 November 1879 noted comedian and great friend of Charles Dickens, John Laurence Toole (1830-1906), took up the management; after a lengthy tour, he re-opened the theatre in1882 under his own name. Here, Sir Edmund Barrie's first play, Walker, London opened in 1892. After it was demolished in 1896, its site was used for an extension of Charing Cross Hospital"

Toole's Theatre / Polygraphic Hall / Charing Cross Theatre / The Folly: "Toole's Theatre, in King William Street, once known as Charing Cross Theatre, was reopened by Mr. J. L. Toole, after enlargement, in 1882, and finally closed in 1896"

Toole & Collectables

As a person who earnt a lot of money he also spent some of that on items.  For instance, one of these is a Coffee pot which is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.  It has the monogram “JLT” and engraved 'Mr and Mrs J.L. Toole with Henry Irving's love, 27th April 1879' at its base.

Toole & Music

As a person who spent much of his life as a "low comedian" he was widely seen as a master of music hall. One of his favourite renditions was of  A Trip To Margate.

He had worked the halls his whole life and travelled across Britain and toured America with his act. He was legendary for his 'One Night Only' performances. He made detailed studies of human emotions and could cry, laugh and become angry whenever the song or audience demanded. When his fame was at its height, he established 'Toole's Theatre', where he both performed and produced. However the death of his son in 1879, and then his wife and daughter the following year had a devastating effect and he retired to Brighton where he published his reminiscences."

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Toole's Family Life

JL Toole was the son of James Toole and Elizabeth Bertout. Whilst there a lot is written about his public persona, on the other hand not much is written about his private life.  Yes, we know that his son, daughter and wife all died and that he was justifiably distraught over the deaths.  Interestingly he seems to have expressed more concern over his son Frank's death, perhaps that is because Frank arguably was following in the same theatrical circles.  Besides that he was educated at the City of London School between 1841 and 1845.

Interestingly the University of Aberdeen claims to have a photo of John as a boy.  With all other pictures beginning in Toole's adulthood there little else to go on and it is not easy for me to be convinced this is the same person.

His last years in Brighton he was nursed by his nephew, Frank Arlton.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Toole & Copyright Law

Interestingly Johnny Toole is cited in the development of Copyright law.  See Royal Commission on Copyright: Minutes of Evidence (1878) for more information on this.

Blackburn When I Was A Boy Part 2

Blackburn When I Was A Boy Part 2: "J.L. Toole, then an old man, was, frankly a disappointment. We went to see him expecting to laugh uproariously; but didn’t."

Toole & Welfare

Johhny Toole spent some of his time trying to give something back to society.  All actors today owe a debt to JL Toole for his contribution to the Actor's benevolent fund.

Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - How the Poor Live, by George R. Sims, 1883 - Chapter 7: "Room by all means, and at once for Mr. J. L. Toole - not the Toole of Toole's Theatre-the popular comedian who has made tomfoolery a fine art and burlesque a science, but his living, breathing image as he appeared to us, voice, and gesture, at the door of a house at which we lately knocked in search of information as to the profits of hat-box makin"