Born on 12th of February 1870
Died on 7th of October 1922
Marie Lloyd, born Matilda Alice Victoria Wood in Hoxton on February 12 1870, was the greatest name in music hall in its heyday, a star who performed to packed theatres in America, Australia and South Africa as well as Britain.
Lloyd – nobody knows why she chose the surname, but Marie was opted for as being ‘classy’ - was the eldest of nine children, her father an artificial flower maker and part-time waiter who probably helped her get her first engagement – unpaid – at The Grecian. She rose to fame rapidly often singing songs that by themselves were rather innocuous, but which with a wink and a gesture she turned into wonders of innuendo, and did well in Panto too, though she preferred unscripted work.
She had a loyal and loving audience for favourites like The Boy I Love is up in the Gallery and Oh! Mr Porter, but in her private life was far less lucky. Three marriages ended in failure: the first when she was 17 to a spendthrift race track tout called Percy Courtenay, soon a nasty drunk though they did have a daughter together; the second to Alexander Hurley, only lasting a strained five years before they separated; and the last to Irish jockey Bernard Dillon, far younger than her, and another bad apple quickly banned from racing.
To escape the misery of Dillon’s drinking and abuse Marie Lloyd herself turned to the bottle, and her career plummeted, though she was still loved by her audience in spite of her short changing them with late arrivals and brief appearances. She died in London on October 7 1922, a time when the music hall she had graced was rapidly being superseded by the cinema (she in fact appeared in three films). When the nation mourned her passing it was acknowledging the end of the music hall age too
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