Diamonds were our Merry Widow’s best friend.
Despite being jilted at the altar, Carrie Moore took to the stage wearing the diamonds that millionaire Ernest Tyson had given her. It was 1901 and 18 year old Carrie Moore was at the height of her fame, starring in the J. C. Wiliamson production of Florodora.
Carrie Moore was born into humble circumstances in Geelong in 1882. Her journey from the docks to the stage began in 1895 when her uncle took the trembling teenager to the stage door of the Princess Theatre in Melbourne. There she auditioned for J. C. Wiliamson who hired her for the Christmas Pantomime, Djin Djin.
By the time she was 15, Carrie was a well known feature of WIliamson pantomimes; she was a brown eyed, black haired girl with huge ambition that matched her vivacious and charming charisma on stage.
Her big break came in 1897 when she replaced English Music Hall star Ada Reeve for one night in a production of The French Maid. That night J C Williamson drove her home and told her mother, ‘We’ll make a star of her Mrs Moore.”
It took three years, but by the time Carrie met Ernest Tyson she was the leading lady of Australia’s premier company, the Royal Comic Opera Company. She seemed destined to be one of many stage stars who snared a millionaire husband. After booking the church, fitting the dress, and organising the flowers, the only thing missing from the wedding was the groom. He stayed away because of the objections of his mother.
Two years later, Carrie went to England where she caused a sensation as a Sandow Girl. Wrapped in a tight fitting corsetless costume, she warbled a trite tune under the leering stares of Edward the VII and his salivating aristocratic cronies.
But it was in 1908 on her return to Australia that Carrie had her biggest success. She returned at the invitation of Williamson to star as Sonia in The Merry Widow. She left behind William Proctor who had spent his entire inheritance on diamonds for Miss Carrie Moore.
Carrie’s performance as Sonia was overshadowed by scandal, when during the run of the musical she married Percy Bigwood, who left a mistress, a wife and two children to marry her. The couple left Australia immediately after the conclusion of The Merry Widow accompanied by the scandalised whispers of Sydney socialites.
In England she performed in pantomime and vaudeville and returned to Australia in 1912. She performed vaudeville skits for Ben Fuller and made a notable appearance as principal boy in Aladdin in 1914. During the war she continued to perform, but by the 1920s she was a part time actress.
In her later years, the legendary diamond collection financed her frequent travels overseas and she became a doyen of the Australian Theatre. Her stately presence caused a stir every time she stepped from her Rolls Royce when she visited relatives in Geelong.
Carrie was a daring, glamour girl of the Edwardian era who maintained a special place in the heart of Australian theatregoers until her death in 1956.
To read more articles by Leann Richards, visit www.hat-archive.com
Read Leann's blog www.hat-archive.blogspot.com