Actress and singer, Gertie Millar (1879-1952) was the reigning star of musical comedy in the Edwardian era. Her early career coincided with the rise of this new form of entertainment championed by George Edwardes, the manager of London’s Gaiety and Daly’s Theatres. Her first major role was as the bridesmaid Cora in The Toreador, which opened on 17 June 1901 and ran for a staggering 675 performances. At the end of 1902 Millar married one of the composers, the former lawyer and theatre critic Lionel Monckton, who together with Ivan Caryll wrote many hit songs for Millar, whose greatest successes included the title roles in Our Miss Gibbs (1909) and The Quaker Girl (1910). Millar continued to perform during the war and retired from the stage in 1918. Edwardes had died three years earlier, Monckton’s style was becoming outdated and Millar was too much a product of the Edwardian age to appeal to the post-war generation. After Monckton’s death in 1924, Millar re-married, and became the Countess of Dudley.
This display of eighteen images, curated in association with Beatrice Belhem, Senior Curator, Fashion & Decorative Arts, Museum of London, marks the 60th anniversary of Millar’s death and coincides with a series of talks at the Westminster Reference Library and at the National Portrait Gallery. It also will provide the first opportunity to showcase a number of recent acquisitions including works by Rita Martin, Bassano and Lafayette and reproductions of two miniatures from the Museum of London Collection.