|the local history of Stoke-on-Trent, England
Did you know? - Gertie Gitana was born in Stoke-on-Trent?
Her first appearance was at the age of four as a member of Tomlinson's Royal Gipsy Children. In 1896 she made her debut proper, billed as Little Gitana, at the Tivoli, Barrow-in-Furness, where she sang 'Dolly at Home.'
She reached London in 1900. Thereafter she gradually became a firm favourite with music hall audiences all over the United Kingdom, appearing at nearly all the major houses. Her repertoire of songs included 'A Schoolgirl's Holiday,' 'When the Harvest Moon is Shining,' 'Silver Bell,' 'You do Look Well in Your Old Dutch Bonnet,' 'Queen of the Cannibal Isles,' ' Never Mind,' 'When I see the Lovelight Gleaming,' and 'Nellie Dean.' The last, which particularly suited her sweet, childlike voice, became her signature song, and was so familiar that for many years the 'Nellie Dean' public house in London's Dean Street, Soho, boasted a gallery of photographs of the popular singer. She made a number of gramophone recordings in London of which the first, dating from 1911, 1912 and 1913, were on the Jumbo label.
In the 1914-18 war she was the Forces' sweetheart and was always ready to entertain in hospitals. After the war she appeared in pantomimes as Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and as a diminutive principal boy. Two musical shows were specially written for her 'Nellie Dean' and 'Dear Louise' and she married her leading man in the latter - Don Ross. (Don Ross of the road show "Thanks For The Memory"). Gertie also appeared in a Royal Command Performance.
Her final appearance was on 2nd December 1950 at The Empress Theatre, Brixton. She died of cancer in January 1957 and was buried in the churchyard at Wigston Magna, Leicester, with her husband.
Her name lives on on Cockney rhyming slang - Gertie Gitana - banana
Gertie is reputed to have financed her brother George Astbury who was a cycle dealer and builder of G.A. cycles at 42, Great Cambridge Road, London, N.17
Frederick Street in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent was renamed Gitana Street in her memory
It takes its current name from the old Theatre Royal - the rear of which stands opposite.
'Gitanas' on Hartshill Road, Hartshill,
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