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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

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Florrie Forde

c. 1930
an unknown artist

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 35.5 cm x 27.5 cm, image: 35.5 cm x 26.0 cm)

Florrie Forde (1875–1940), singer and music hall performer, was born in Melbourne and first sang publicly at Sydney's Polytechnic Hall at the age of sixteen. For the next five years she sang and acted in Sydney and Melbourne; in Adelaide she performed the saucy song 'She Wore a Little Safety Pin, Behind' for members of the Australasian Federal Convention. By 1897 she was making her debut in London, singing 'You Know and I Know' at three separate music halls on the same night. Henceforth she was never out of work, remaining a star until her death through songs in which her audiences joined enthusiastically, including 'Down at the Old Bull and Bush', 'Pack Up Your Troubles' and 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary'. In 1912 she appeared before King George V in the very first Royal Command Variety Performance. At the peak of her career during the First World War, she continued to perform, mentor up-and-coming stars and record songs in her strong Australian accent through to the 1930s, also appearing as herself in two films. She performed as one of the 'Veterans of Variety' in another Command performance in 1935.

This autographed publicity photograph of Forde wearing fur was taken around 1930. She died a decade later after entertaining patients in a naval hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Purchased 2017

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Florrie Forde (age 54 in 1930)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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