Alice Delysia Archive

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains scrapbooks, gramophone records, photographs, press cuttings and posters relating to John Devaut, Alice Delysia, Harry Fragson and Charles B. Cochran. The material dates between 1889 and 1979.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Devaut (1916-1999) was an actor who starred in a number of productions in London, Glasgow, Kidderminster, Manchester and Edinburgh. His godmother was Alice Delysia.

Actress Alice Delysia, whose real name Alice Henriette Lapize (1889 to 1979), was born on 3 March 1889 in Paris. In 1903, she made her first appearance as a chorus girl at the Théatre du Moulin Rouge in Paris. In 1909, she left the stage and was living with Harry Fragson, singer and composer. However, the couple parted in 1912 and Alice returned to the Paris stage. Alice was discovered by C. B. Cochran in 1913 and taken to London in 1914 to star in his first revue, Odds and Ends, which was a great success. Alice sang in many charity performances during the First World War. Her success continued throughout the 1920s in revues and musicals staged by Cochran. Her last big London success was at the Gaiety Theatre in 1933, in Mother of Pearl. In May 1941, Delysia supported De Gaulle and joined the Entertainments National Service Association entertaining troops in North Africa, the Middle East, Normandy, Belgium, and the Netherlands until the end of the war. After the war, she retired from the stage. Alice Delysia died from cancer on 10 February 1979 in the French Convalescent Home in Brighton.

Theatrical manager Sir Charles Blake Cochran (1872 to 1951) was born on 25 September 1872 in Sussex. At the age of seven, Charles saw the pantomime Sinbad the Sailor and this unforgettable visit inspired a lifelong passion for the theatre. Having left school and failed as a music-hall performer, Cochran went to America. There, he was the secretary to the actor and manager Richard Mansfield, and gained experience in running a theatrical company. In 1914, at the Ambassador's Theatre, Cochran took up the newly born genre of revue with Odds and Ends, starring his new discovery Alice Delysia. The shows that followed confirmed his reputation as a master of revue. At any given moment, he was juggling a half-dozen new productions and running the same number of theatres. He was knighted in 1948 and elected to the Légion d'honneur in 1950. He died after being trapped in a scalding bath on 31 January 1951.

Harry Fragson (1869 to 1913) was born in London in 1869. His real name was Léon Philippe Pot and he was of French-Belgian parentage. He was a British music hall singer and comedian. While living in Paris, he developed an act involving impressions of French music hall performers. In 1905, he came back to London and became a popular performer in both the U.K. and France. He is well known for the song 'Hello, Hello, Who's Your Lady Friend?'. He was one of the first French singers to have his songs mechanically reproduced on wax recordings. He was arguably the most popular pre-WWI entertainer. In 1913, Fragson was shot dead by his own father who was unstable because he believed that Fragson was going to put him into a home. He is buried at the crematorium at le Pére-Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Arrangement

The collection is organised into the following series:

  • THM/95/1 - Scrapbooks
  • THM/95/2 - Gramophone Records
  • THM/95/3 - Photograph of Alice Delysia with the troupes
  • THM/95/4 - Press and Marketing

Conditions Governing Access

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Archivist's Note

With thanks to Alan Black for his contributions regarding the life of Alice Delysia, John Devaut, Harry Fragson and C.B. Cochran.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.

Custodial History

The archive features materials relating to the donor John Devaut, Alice Delysia, Harry Fragson and Charles B. Cochran. John Devaut's godmother was Alice Delysia.

Accruals

No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Theatre and Performance Department. Material relating to Alice Delysia, as well as John Devaut, Charles B. Cochran and Harry Fragson in general may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details.