Monday, 14 May 2018

Miss Fanny Dango

Miss Fanny Dango
State Library of Victoria  Image H85.73/6

On November 29, 1910 the actress and comedienne, Miss Fanny Dango, married the Australian 'squatter', Sam MacKay, in London. Samuel Peter MacKay was the owner of Melville Park in Berwick. Sam, 45 years old, had recently been divorced from his 43 year old wife, Florence Gertrude (nee Taylor) MacKay on the grounds of her 'misconduct' with Harry Mulvey, a chauffeur, and Donald Bain, a Real Estate Agent of Berwick (and the son of Robert and Susan Bain, who owned the Border Inn at Berwick). The term 'misconduct' was a  euphemism for 'sexual activity' or an affair.

Report of the marriage between Sam MacKay and Fanny Dango
The Argus, December 1, 1910

Sam died May 11, 1923. According to his obituary, published in Pastoral Review, June 16 1923 (see here).  Sam MacKay, was born in 1864 in Mount Gambier. He left school at 13 and did some cattle droving, until he decided to move to northern Western Australia where he worked in the pearling industry. Later on his father and two uncles purchased the one million acre Mundabullangana Station, east of Roebourne. By 1903, when his father died, he bought the Station outright. In 1905, he purchased Melville Park at Berwick from James Gibb and lived there until 1912. MacKay built a mansion on the property around 1907. The building was designed by Rodney Alsop and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, where it is described as a two-storey red brick example of the English vernacular style with some reference to the Queen Anne style. It has also been described as being in the Arts and Crafts Style. The Melville Park property was later renamed Edrington, and the mansion is now part of a retirement village. It is pictured below. 

MacKay's obituary ends with Although the late Mr. Mackay was a well-known pastoralist, he was better known as a breeder and lover of thoroughbred horses, and his colours were a familiar sight on the chief racecourses in Australia. 

Melville Park (now Edrington) built by Sam MacKay.

In 1892, Sam had married Florence Gertrude Taylor in Western Australia. Florence was from Yangdine, near York in Western Australia. They had three children - Elsie Gertrude (born 1893 in Roebourne, W.A., died in Melbourne in 1963); Marjorie (born and died 1895) and Samuel Keith (1900 - 1924). You can read about the family here, in an article entitled The Tragedies of the MacKays in the Sunday Times, July 27, 1924. Keith had recently died in an aeroplane accident at near Port Headland when the article was written.  Sam and Florence were divorced in August 1910, a few months before his marriage to Fanny. Sam and Fanny then had one son, Peter Angus, born in 1911.

Report of Sam's divorce from his wife Florence.
Weekly Times August 13, 1910

Above is an account of the MacKay divorce  from the Weekly Times. As Sam married Fanny a few months later in the November, you would have to assume that they were already acquainted whilst the divorce proceedings were being heard.

Who was exotically named Fanny Dango? Fanny was born in 1878 as Fanny Rudge, to Henry and Elizabeth Rudge of Birmingham. She had four sisters who also became actresses - Letitia (stage name Letty Lind), Sarah (stage name Millie Hylton), Elizabeth (stage name Adelaide Astor) and Lydia (stage name Lydia Flopp) and two brothers who followed their father's career as a brass founder. 

The Association of British Theatre Technicians website had (1) the following information about Fanny and her sisters -

The Rudge sisters, professionally known as Letty Lind (1861-1923), Millie Hylton (1868-1920), Adelaide Astor (1874-1951), Lydia Flopp (1877-1962) and Fanny Dango (1878-1972), all hailing from Birmingham, were primarily dancers but later developed their singing talents, working in pantomime, variety and music hall, musical comedy and burlesque, often at the Gaiety Theatre in the 1880s and  90s. Letty Lind was in the last George Edwardes burlesques (at the Gaiety) and the first George Edwardes musical comedies (at Daly’s); she also had a professional and personal relationship with the dramatic author and entertainer Howard Paul (1830-1905) and was the mother of his illegitimate son, she later had an enduring relationship with the 3rd Earl of Durham (1855-1928) and another son. Millie Hylton had a successful career in variety as a male impersonator and as a principal boy in pantomime, but later appeared in legitimate theatre and was the mother of actress Millie Sim (b.1895). Adelaide Astor was married to George Grossmith, Jnr. and had a son, George Grossmith (manager) and a daughter, Ena Grossmith (b.1896, actress). Lydia Flopp had a briefer career than her sisters and an unhappy marriage. Fanny Dango followed her sisters onto the London stage and ended up a wealthy woman in Australia. The Rudge sisters were cousins of music hall artist, Millie Lindon (1877-1940) who was married at one time to T.E. Dunville (1868-1924), however they divorced long before his sad and dramatic death and she later re-married three times.

Fanny was in Australia working in various States on a frequent basis between 1900 and 1910, according to newspaper reports at the time.  If you put her name into Trove, you will get many results.

A report of one of Fanny's performances.
The Age  September 11, 1907

Fanny died July 15, 1972 at the age of 91. She is buried at the  Brighton Cemetery, with her husband Sam; her son Peter who died December 12, 1951 and Sam’s daughter, Elsie, who died February 6, 1963. Elsie MacKay was an actress, who had married British and Hollywood film star, Lionel Attwill. She was his second wife and after their divorce, he married Louise, the divorced wife of General Douglas MacArthur. 

Death of Lionel Attwill, the husband of Sam MacKay's daughter, Elsie. 
Daily Telegraph, April 24, 1946

I am indebted to Bob Flavell of the Edrington Park History Group for telling me about Fanny Dango.

When I wrote this article in May 2018 this link to the information about the Rudge sisters was working but now (May 2021) it no longer works - 

No comments: