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The Mystery of a Second Twin

Dorritt Burton as the 2nd Twin in 1930. It was typical for cast members to have their photos taken in amateur photography studios for postcards

About a year ago I acquired five postcards depicting 4 actresses in costume from a 1930 tour of Peter Pan in England. That they had survived eighty years was remarkable in itself but that they remained together all that time was truly incredible. While it was easy enough to identify Sheila Maloney via her signature and Peter Pan costume, the identities of the others eluded me. Three of the postcards (including Maloney’s) are inscribed to “Dorrit” or “Dorit” who appears on the other two cards with one was labeled on the back, “2nd Twin.” However, my programmes from that year listed Jose Chapman as the 2nd Twin. I wasn’t able to find Dorrit’s name in Roger Lancelyn Green’s Fifty years of Peter Pan either.

 

It was quite common for touring companies to hire actors and actresses while on the road to cover smaller roles so I knew there was probably a programme out there that would clarify matters; all I had to do was wait. Luckily, my wait was only a year-long! Last week I bought a couple of 1930 Peter Pan programmes and lo and behold, there was Dorritt

Eileen Simmons as Liza, 1930.

Burton listed as 2nd Twin. While it remains unclear when she started and finished her contribution to the tour, I was able to determine that Dorritt was playing 2nd Twin at least from March 4 (at Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool) through March 31 (at Theatre Royal in Newcastle).

Now to identify the other players.One postcard featured a rather tough looking actress dressed in a maid’s uniform. Inscribed “To Dorit: With Love and Best Wishes from Eliza, Peter Pan 1930.” That actress was Eileen Simmons.

The other postcard, also signed for Dorit, depicts Pearl Harper as Curly. In both cases, Dorritt’s name was spelled incorrectly.

Pearl Harper as Curly, 1930 tour.

OK, perhaps in the scheme of things this is not groundbreaking news but I enjoy seeing photos of different cast members from early productions of Peter Pan and knowing who they were. Perhaps there is a relative out there of one of these artists associated with Peter Pan who will also enjoy seeing these photos. Or, (and not least of all) Peter Pan fans like myself.

Thanks for coming back to see more!

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “The Mystery of a Second Twin

  1. Strange seeing people who might not ever be known except for a few photos left behind and someone willing to research.

    Posted by Drew | May 4, 2011, 9:44 PM
    • I know what you mean, Drew. Sometimes I get a little melancholy when I see abandoned family photo albums, cabinet cards, etc., and wonder why the families did not hold onto them as treasures. Even sadder is that the last owner was the end of the family tree and no one else wanted his/her photos. But, on the lighter side, it is fun just trying to find out the contributions and history of unknown actors/actresses in Peter Pan.

      Posted by Bruce | May 5, 2011, 5:35 PM

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