Biography and Burlesque!

Tonight I'll be performing at this fabulous event:

Rachel Shteir Gypsy Rose Lee Book Release Event

You can read excerpts from Rachel's book and purchase it on

Albert Garzon, who charted the music I'll be performing, is a bit of a biographer as well. Check out his information on Lydia Thompson's daughter, Zeffie!

Zeffie Tilbury, the daughter of Lydia Thompson, was born on November 20, 1863. Her father died a year later in a tragic accident while horse racing and hurdle jumping.

Zeffie Tilbury, age 7:

Zeffie was drawn into acting because her mother was one of the most famous actresses in England. And soon to be the most famous burlesque performer in the world.

Zeffie - age 20:

A sampler of Zeffie's long and successful acting career:
Aug. 1885 - First trip to USA with Mary Anderson Troupe. Zeffie played in "Pygmalion" (which was new at the time), "Ingomar" and other shows. The Mary Anderson troupe troured a good portion of the country. Lydia Thompson accompanied her daughter on this trip (Zeffie was not quite 22 years old) and Lydia had many friends in America to introduce her to.

Mary Anderson - mid 1880's

1886 - "The Coming Clown", "Blackberries" and "Turned Up" - Royalty Theater, London. Zeffie appears with some of her mom's old Ixion comrades including comic Willie Edouin and his wife Alice Atherton.

1887 - "Sultan of Mocha", "Babette", "The Golden Key" and "Kenilworth". Zeffie performs in the UK with her mom in a number of burlesques, and stars in the revised edition of the burlesque, "Kenilworth".

1888 - "A Winter's Tale" - Zeffie and her mom are back in the USA touring.Zeffie with the Mary Anderson troupe; she has a leading role in "A Winter's Tale".Lydia is touring and headlining under promoter Micheal Leavitt. Lydia's tour hitsCanada, and as far West as Los Angeles, but runs out of money in the mid-West.

1892 - "As You LIke It" - Zeffie and Lydia performed together in Philadelphia; Zeffie playing Rosalind to Lydia's Audrey

1894 - "Crust of Society" Zeffie and Lydia appear together in the American version of Dumas' "Le Demi-monde". Lydia plays the supporting role of Lady Downe to Zeffie's starring role as Mrs. Chapel. The producers of this show are listed as: Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Lewis (Zeffie is Mrs. Lewis !)

1901 - "Twelfth Night". Zeffie stars as Maria at Her Majesty's Theater, London.

Her Majesty's Theater, London

1903 - "Crust Of Society" - Zeffie is back in New York, with a remake of her successful production from 1894. (she is almost 40 years old)

1904 - "Twelfth Night" - Zeffie is back in New York with the Mary Anderson troupe - this time at the Knickerbocker Theatre on Broadway. Lydia Thompson accompanies Zeffie primarily for moral support as she does not perform on this tour.

Knickerbocker Theater, New York (Broadway & 38th St.)

1905 - "Winter's Tale" and "Twelfth Night" - Zeffie is back at the Knickerbocker in New York with Mary Anderson. Sadly, Lydia was not up to the task of oversea travel at this time and stayed behind in London.

Zeffie Tilbury in the early 1900's

Click here to read more about Zeffie, and to read more of Albert's research!

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for


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