James & Lucy
The Allisons (James and Lucy) began their performing life in the early 1880s. James Allison’s eccentric dancing, comedic timing and contortions developed during the Legmania craze that hit the music halls in the late 19th century. Lucy’s acrobatic skipping dance and her sweet voice made them a perfect comedy duo. James started his performance career as a ballet dancer in the opera chorus. Lucy had been performing in a juvenile dance company before landing the part of Columbine in the pantomime Hop O’ My Thumb. By this time James had already been Harlequin at a panto at Drury Lane and they met performing Harlequin and Columbine in the harlequinade at Theatre Royal in Rochdale.
The Corkscrew dance or pas de deux
The Allisons have been described as eccentric dancers for the whirlwind Corkscrew dance perfected by James as part of the act but they blended a routine of highly skilled dance, comedy and song. Audiences and critics were amazed by the speed and ‘machine like’ actions and fascinated by Lucy’s skipping rope dance. James & Lucy Allison were active in performing for over 25 years between 1880 and 1908, with the majority of their performance career spent touring internationally including America, Australia and New Zealand. Their skits included a surprise element where they start off dressed as an elderly couple but burst into frenetic dancing with Lucy’s high speed skipping. According to newspaper reports wherever they went it was always a crowd pleaser.
“Recalled no less than Five Times Last Night”Lyttelton Times, Volume CVII, Issue 12786, 17 April 1902, Page 1
(Papers Past New Zealand)
James Allison (1858-1921) – was born James Jeremiah BEDDOE on 14th November 1858 at 49 Hunter Street, Southwark. He was the oldest son of James Whitaker BEDDOE, and Emily Catherine (KNIGHT).
Lucy Allison (1865-1948) – was born Matilda Lucy Elizabeth MORROW in 1865, the daughter of John and Matilda MORROW.
Marriage – James and Lucy were married on 17th September 1883. James was 24 years of age and Lucy just 17 years old. They started performing as a duet as The Allisons (James & Lucy) the same year.
Children – James & Lucy had two children, a son James Frederick George (1884) also known as James Eadie; and a daughter Lucy Emily Rosamund (1886).
FINAL RESTING PLACE
James Allison died in 1921, age 69 and is buried in Ladywell Cemetery, Lewisham in south London. Lucy Allison is buried in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. After several trans-atlantic visits in the 1920’s Lucy Allison eventually migrated to Michigan to live with her son James and his wife Cissie. Lucy Allison died in 1948 aged 83 years and is buried at Fulton Street cemetery, Grand Rapids, under her real name Lucy M Beddoe beside the graves of her son and daughter in law
“In 1907 he was the popular King Rat and was one of the founders of V.A.F”
The Stage, 8 December 1921.
[British Newspaper Archive]
“Former member of a well known theatrical team, died late yesterday at the home of her son James”
Battle Creek Enquirer
Battle Creek, Michigan
08 Dec 1948, Wed • Page 26
NOTE: This site is first and foremost a family history journey to re-discover James & Lucy Allison and their son James Eadie and his wife Cissie Ramsden. It also hopes to delve a little deeper into the lives of other performers who wowed the audiences with their eccentric dances and physical feats. I will continuing adding blog posts that map their lives and explore the acts and people they met along the way.