Albert Whelan, Bert’s brother-in-law

I’ll just finish up some posts on the Waxman clan, you’ll recall Albert Whelan was Harriet’s, younger brother. Like Bert, Albert was born in Ballarat. Here is an account of Albert’s debut in London, in Billboard Magazine December 1908.

Below is a sketch of Albert held at the V & A Museum in London. This description accompanies the sketch. ‘Albert Whelan was a versatile music hall performer, born in Melbourne. He made his name in London after appearing in variety at the Empire, Leicester Square; in pantomime at Liverpool, and in 1908 at London’s Pavilion Theatre where he was ‘spotted’ by an agent and offered a six week tour of America. Whelan always dressed immaculately and specialised in singing comic songs, but was also a great raconteur and dancer who played the violin and piano. He invented the ‘signature tune’ for a performer with his special way of starting a performance. He would walk slowly on stage removing his gloves, scarf, overcoat and hat whilst whistling the tune ‘The Jolly Brothers’.

V & A Caricature of Albert Whelan performing at the Oxford New Theatre, July 1939. It was drawn by Gilbert Sommerlad (1904-1976), a rehearsal pianist and orchestral violinist. Sommerlad sketched the stars on stage when he wasn’t needed in the orchestra pit, compiling the sketches in a series of albums.

One response to “Albert Whelan, Bert’s brother-in-law”

  1. avatar

    What of the Waxmans today? It is a fairly common family name. I am a bit confused with the name Whelan they were Fenians, much to their credit. H


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