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Lewis Sydney                     Ethel Alandale       Gwennie Mars    Dan Everard                        Effie Cook                    H.G.P

©JG Pélissier

Lewis Sydney


One of the elder and longer-established, he was Harry’s regular comic partner, his ‘straight-man’ in numerous sketches. With no specific date of birth, it is assumed he was born some time before the Crimean War of the 1850s. With respect to his age, he was always addressed in the company as Mr. Sydney.


Unusually for music hall and revue, he began his career as a straight actor in melodrama and classic comedy with mainstream touring companies. Like most of The Follies, he was multi-talented, being also a mimic, a pianist and a singer. In 1909 he married his fellow-Folly, Ethel Allandale.

He was particularly known for his recitation of The Kissing Cup’s Race and for sketches at the piano such as Oh! Adolphus and A Simple Country Episode. He also scored a hit with his dual role as the King and the Gravedigger in Pélissier’s Hamlet, as a pirate in the Peter Pan-tomime and as Bunny in Baffles. He was also a renowned impersonator of musical instruments – including a tin whistle in the Tchaikowsky’s 1812 sketch and a flute accompaniment to Gwennie Mars singing.

In the early days of The Follies there was a rapid turnover of cast members. It was a reflection of Harry’s ruthless management style and his ambition to create a regular, revue-style company. The Follies included pierrettes from as early as 1895 and may have been amongst the first to have done so, with them often taking a prominent role alongside the pierrots.
From 1897 the cast was more settled and from c.1903 onwards the following cast members were more or less permanently installed.


©JG Pélissier

Lewis Sydney

follies' sunday at home.jpg

The first ever biography of H.G. Pélissier, satirist, composer and bohemian – one of the most famous Edwardians before WW1.  A visionary forerunner of The Goons and Monty Python and founder of The Follies - the original Follies.  

Recommended in The Times Writers' Favourite Books of 2022 by Quentin Letts.


©JG Pélissier


Ethel Allendale


After Harry, the longest serving of The Follies being barely sixteen when she joined – along with her mother and father briefly – in 1897. A singer and mimic as well as a comedienne, she was virtuosic on the banjo and mandolin.  Like her husband Lewis Sydney – she twice left The Follies for other theatre roles. Once, on a tour of the ‘Girl’ musical, The Casino Girl and then as Nelly Nell at the Aldwych Theatre. In The Follies’ pantomime revue Bill Bailey, she played an outrageous and sexy Fairy Queen. In Hamlet she played Polonius and in Faust, Marguerite. She made the Pélissier songs My Teddy Bear and When I Walked Out With A Soldier all her own.

Ethel Allandale

Dan Everard

The Follies biographer, Fitzroy Gardner, writes, “(He) began as a choirboy, from which he lapsed into smoking-concerts; thence he progressed into prominence as comedian, low comedian, banjoist, and ballad singer.”


Dan was fascinated in his youth by black American minstrel troupes that pervaded the coastal resorts of the mid to late Victorian era. He says, “There was one troupe that I followed from public-house to public-house, always remaining outside the respective houses of refreshment, because in those days I had not been captivated by the charm of stout in pewter pots. I tried to follow their chorus until I got lost. When found and restored to my friends, I astonished the latter with some of the most vulgar songs they had ever heard.” 

He scored a hit with The Follies satire of music hall  as Alf, the Gag Pincher and then as Colonel Swanky D.Codder in The Wild West Kilburn Shooting Act. He acted as private secretary for the company and as as sort of wage clerk until taking over the management completely following Pélissier’s death. He too married a fellow-Folly, Doris Brooke.


Dan Everard

Courtesy of V&A Museum, London


The Nicotine Quartet


©JG Pélissier

Gwennie Mars

Gwennie Mars

Gwennie first appeared on stage at the age of six in a duet with her sister Maud. In her teens she joined a concert party and then became a principal girl in touring pantomimes. She developed a comedy routine playing piano and singing songs in broken English, culminating in a seven-week engagement at the Alhambra. 

When Harry saw Gwennie perform, he immediately asked her to join The Follies. She became one of the most popular members with her imitations of the music hall star Harry Lauder. Following one of Lauder’s many visits to the USA, she changed the words of his most famous song, “I love a lassie” to “I love the Yankees.” 

Smiling and slim, she made her entrance with the Harry Lauder walk, leaning on a replica of his crooked stick, and brought the house down. "In make-up, in voice and in manner, Miss Gwennie Mars gives a resemblance which is astonishingly true. And she has, more marvellous still, got Mr Lauder’s exact expression."

The audience also loved her parody of Ophelia, who in the Follies version of Hamlet, fails to drown. 

She left The Follies in 1911 when she married a civil engineer who worked in India. Sadly her health suffered in the Indian climate aged only 33

Effie Cook

Effie Cook


Educated at Guildhall School of Music began her career with an English concert party touring Europe in the early 1900s “to restore our friendly relations with Holland after the South African War.”


She joined The Follies for their season at Terry’s Theatre in the Strand in September 1907 to perform the Pélissier ballad Dreams of Rest as well as to feature in the Smoking Quartette. She was the Queen in Hamlet and partnered Ethel Allandale as Beena Flapper to her Stilla Flapper. She portrayed Miss A.Lotta Bulls in The Wild West Kilburn Shooting Act


©JG Pélissier

Muriel George

Muriel George


Muriel George (29 August 1883 – 22 October 1965) was an English singer and film actress. She appeared in some 55 films between 1932 and 1955. She also appeared on the variety stage and sang on radio with her second husband Ernest Butcher for thirty years. 

By her first marriage, to Robert (known as 'Robin' or 'Arthur') Davenport, an author and lyricist, she had a son, the critic John Davenport.

Arthur Davenport was in fact Pélissier’s most prolific and talented sketch-writing collaborator and lyricist -  known as 'Fish’ for his heavy drinking.


Muriel was just 19 when she joined The Follies in 1902. She had a brief departure from the troupe to play musical comedy in Three Little Maids and The White Chrysanthemum.


She made one of Pélissier’s most striking ballads, My Moon, her very own. In the skit King of Cadonia, she impersonated Isabel Jay; and played the coster-girl in their music hall burlesque. 


©JG Pélissier

Douglas Maclaren

The youngest of The Follies, known as ‘The Boy", his father was a doctor – who indeed tended Harry Pélissier at some points during his fatal illness.


He studied medicine at Guy’s Hospital before setting out on a career as a seaside pierrot, first joining The Follies’ sister company, The Ragamuffins, in Manchester in 1909. 


His set-piece impersonation was of George Robey – and like Harry himself he also played female roles, such as Violet Vanbrugh in Samson


©JG Pélissier

Douglas Maclaren


©JG Pélissier

Morris Harvey

Starting his life as a City stockbroker, Morris Harvey took up amateur dramatics and then moved on to the music hall stage before joining The Follies. 

He was also a co-lyricist with Pélissier on a handful of songs including the sharply satirical Pansy of Pennsylvania (1910) regarding the fashion for young American heiresses to marry into the English aristocracy.

Morris Harvey

Fred Pélissier

Harry’s longest-serving collaborator, his brother Frederick sometimes even ‘doubled’ as the man himself, such was their physical similarity. In fact, Frederick co-wrote one of Pélissier’s earliest songs Die Faderland – a thinly-veiled send-up of their own Teutonic background. 

He was executor to his brother’s will upon Harry’s death in 1913. His main job remained as a partner in his father’s jewellery company at 63 Berwick Street, Soho – an address which also served as the business headquarters for The Follies. 


©JG Pélissier

Fred Pé lissier


Dollis Brook


Married to the fellow-Folly Dan Everard, Dollis Brook was reputedly given her working name by Pélissier himself – inspired by the north London waterway that is Dollis Brook. 

She joined The Follies fairly late in their development, in 1911, having enjoyed some success in musical comedy.


After Harry’s death in 1913, she and Dan Everard became the driving force that kept the show on the road through the Great War and into the 1920s.


Other Follies

Harold Atterton
Ronald Bagnall
Florence Batty
Gwyneth Boleyn
Kate Carew




Emerson Carter
Cave Chinn
Mabel Englehardt
Daisy Englehardt
Lindsay Hammond

Evelyn Hughes
Doris Lind
Eric Lodge
Florence Minty
Wally Montagu

Marjorie Napier
Nellie Reed
Beatrice Scully
Arthur Wynne

The first ever biography of H.G. Pélissier, satirist, composer and bohemian – one of the most famous Edwardians before WW1. A visionary forerunner of The Goons and Monty Python and founder of The Follies - the original Follies.

Recommended in The Times Writers' Favourite Books of 2022 by Quentin Letts.

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