Mabel Love

Mabel Love

A cabinet card portrait of the British dancer and stage actress Mabel Love (1874-1953), considered one of the great stage beauties of her age. Her career spanned the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. In 1894, a young, smitten Winston Churchill wrote to her asking for a signed photograph.

She is seen in 1889, when she was 14 years old, dressed as a vivandière in the original production of Faust Up to Date, a musical burlesque by Meyer Lutz at the Gaiety Theatre.

Born Mabel Watson at Folkestone, she was the granddaughter of the ventriloquist William Edward Love and the daughter of actress Kate Watson, known profession as Kate Love. She made her stage debut at the age of twelve, at the Prince of Wales Theatre, playing ‘The Rose’ in the first stage adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Still only 14, she enjoyed widespread popularity playing the dancing role of Totchen the Vivandière (a camp follower) in Faust Up To Date (1888-89).

In March 1889, under the headline ‘Disappearance of a Burlesque Actress,’ it was reported by The Star newspaper that Love had disappeared. After a few days of fevered speculation in the press, she was found safe and well in Dublin. Four months later she was back in the news when she tried to commit suicide by throwing herself into the Thames from Whitehall Steps. The publicity only served to increase the public’s interest in her.

Over the following 30 years, she starred in a series of burlesques, pantomimes and musical comedies. Later, she appeared at the Folies-Bergères in Paris and in Man and Superman on Broadway.

Love retired from the stage in 1918. In 1926, she opened a school of dancing in London. Her only return to the stage was in 1938, as Mary Goss in Profit and Loss at the Embassy Theatre.

She died at Weybridge on 15 May 1953, at the age of 78.

Photographed by William and Daniel Downey of London and Newcastle.


Code: 123825
© Paul Frecker 2021