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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.

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Miss Florrie Ford (Christmas pantomime with toy cat)

1930
Fielding, Leeds

gelatin silver photograph on paper (support: 13.9 cm x 8.8 cm)

Florrie Forde (1875-1940), music hall performer, was born in Melbourne to a woman named Phoebe Simmons, who had sixteen children by three different fathers before dying at the age of 46. Florrie (Flora) was her eighth, and spent time in a convent before running away to Sydney with her sister. She first sang publicly at the Polytechnic Hall in the Imperial Arcade, Pitt Street, at the age of sixteen. For the next five years she sang and acted in vaudeville and music hall in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. By 1897 she was making her debut in London. 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’, ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’, ‘Oh! Oh! Antonio’ and ‘Hold Your Hand Out, Naughty Boy’. In 1912 she appeared in the very first Royal Command Variety Performance. At the apogee of her career during World War I, the ‘Melba of the Music Hall’ continued to perform, mentor up-and-coming stars and record songs in her strong Australian accent through the 1930s, in which she also appeared as herself in two films. She performed as one of the ‘Veterans of Variety’ in another Command Performance in 1935. She died a few hours after entertaining patients in a naval hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
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

Fielding, Leeds

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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