Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Apr 2017 speaker

Arthur Morley and Elsie Bates
Lynne Hooper, BIHS president
Guest speaker at BIHS meeting April 2017

At our April meeting BIHS president Lynne Hooper gave a fascinating account of the vaudeville careers of Arthur Morley (Albert Morley Welch) and Elsie Bates (Elsie Tottey).  Arthur and Elsie purchased a retirement home on Bribie in 1934.

Elsie Bates
Biography [online] Australian Variety Theatre Archive
Image Source: Australian Variety 23 May (1915) Cover
By means of a PowerPoint presentation she gave a brief history of Vaudeville in Australia and then moved through the highlights of their careers on stage throughout Australia.  Elsie was a serio-comic and dancer while Arthur was a basso singer.  They met when they worked together at the Gaiety Theatre in Melbourne in 1905, marrying in Sydney in 1907.  Though still singing and taking part in the Vaudeville shows Arthur went on to write and produce songs for revusicals and pantomimes.  His songs were so popular they were published for the music stores. 

By the 1930s they were living in Brisbane and Arthur was working in radio for 4BC.  His first character was Bob Breezy but the one that had new and old fans flocking to listen was the ’Old Timer’. The ‘Old Timer’ recaptured the romance of the stage, he spoke of men and women he knew and worked with, particularly those who graced the vaudeville stage in the days when he himself was a front-rank vaudevillian.

It was during this time they visited Bribie Island decided to buy their retirement house.  Arthur was 65 in 1934 when they bought 2 block of lands where the IGA now stands in Welsby Parade.  They build a high-set house and it was purchased in Elsie’s name.  The annual leave rental was 15s.

In 1935 Arthur passed away and Elsie retired to Bribie Island.  Their youngest son Valentine was registered at the Bribie Island State School and it was at Bribie she met her second husband, John Sabey, and they were married in 1941 – Elsie was 58 as was Sabey. They had to leave Bribie during the war and lived in Brisbane but they moved back to Bribie Island at the end of the War.

In 1947 Elsie sold the lease of the property to Terry Vines who ran his grocery shop “The Duck-Inn” as it had a very low entry doorway.

Elsie and John moved to Mt. Nebo where Elsie died on 28 October 1953.

Elsie Bates biography [online] Australian Variety Theatre Archive

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