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Chester, Miss Betty
Neg. No: L 8151
Neg. Size: CK
Neg. Date: 01-04-1924

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Sitter: Betty Chester (1895-1943) [stage name of Mrs EW Billyard Leake née Grundtwig]

Betty Chester (1895-1943) [stage name of Mrs EW Billyard Leake née Grundtwig]

Biog: Actress and vocalist; daughter of Charles Grundtwig; m (?) Liet. Com EW Billyard Leake

The first of a very short list of traditional-style pierrot shows to play the West End, The Co-Optimists were probably the finest of the genre. The company opened at the Royalty in June 1921; they disbanded 1927 but were revived 1929; in 1930 they were back in the West End at the London Hippodrome. Members included Hermione Baddeley (1906-86), Doris Bentley (d. 25 February 1944), WEBSTER BOOTH (see ANNE ZIEGLER &), DAVY BURNABY, Wolseley Charles ( d. 28 November 1962) pianist, Billy Mayerl (1902-59) pianist, Betty Chester (1895-1943), Gilbert Childs (d. 24 September 1931), Laddie Cliff (1891-1937) and his wife Phyllis Monkman (1892-1976), Anita Elson (1898-1985), Melville Gideon (1884-1933) principal pianist, Olive Groves, H. B. Hedley (1890-1931) song-writer, Stanley Holloway (1890-1982), Cicely James, Elsa MacFarlane, Austin Melford (1884-1971), Elsie Randolph (1903-83), Cyril Ritchard (1897-1977), and Babs Valerie (Mrs BILLY MERSON).
A volume published in 1926 by Herbert Jenkins was entitled The Comic History of The Co-Optimists; the authors were Messrs Ashley Sterne (1876-1939) and Archie de Bear (1888-1970), and while these two gentlemen produced a moderately amusing book the title is a complete misnomer for there is not one jot or tittle of genuine information within its pages. There are however excellent photographic illustrations of many of the above-named artistes. (

Date: 1 April 1924

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Photographer: Lafayette Ltd., 160 New Bond Street, London.

Evidence of photographer at work: -

No of poses: 2.

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Copyright: V&A Provenance: Pinewood Studios; acquired 1989.


Biog: Who's Who in the Theatre

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