Queenie Paul OAM 1893-1982

Queenie Paul

Queenie Paul

In July 1931 Connors and Paul expanded to Melbourne, leasing Fullers’ Bijou, a few doors from
the Tivoli.

In partnership with Roy Rene they presented Insanities of 1935 at the Civic, a revamp of the old Haymarket in Sydney.

In 1938 Mike joined the ABC as presenter of the immensely popular Hospital Half Hour.

Toward the end of 1946, Queenie and Mike signed with entrepreneur Harry Wren, who was presenting revue at the Cremorne in Brisbane.

 

 

In July 1931 Connors and Paul expanded to Melbourne, leasing Fullers’ Bijou, a few doors from
the Tivoli, where a consortium led by George Dickenson was presenting similar fare. In September the two organisations merged as Connors and Paul Theatres Pty Ltd, presenting gloom-chasing fare in Melbourne at the Tivoli and in Sydney at the Theatre Royal. The following year, at Queenie Paul’s suggestion, they leased George Marlow’s shabby Grand Opera House in Castlereagh Street, where she had appeared in The Bunyip 16 years before. They spruced it up, hired some neon lighting and – another of Queenie’s inspirations – renamed it the New Tivoli, in tribute to Sydney’s original Tivoli, which had closed in 1929. The New Tivoli opened on 23 July 1932 with a bill headed by Roy Rene and Syd Beck. This was the start of Australia’s second Tivoli Circuit, which entertained Australians for the next 34 years.

In 1933, while Queenie and Mike were talent-spotting in the United States, a surprise share transfer delivered control of the Tivoli to George Dickenson and Frank Neil. By mid 1934 they had moved on. In partnership with Roy Rene they presented Insanities of 1935 at the Civic, a revamp of the old Haymarket in Sydney. The next year, teamed with Roy Rene, they played at the Apollo and the Princess in Melbourne, then put in three months at the Majestic in Newtown, and took a company to New Zealand with George Wallace as their star. This was so successful that in 1937 they embarked on a second tour. Unfortunately their new headliner, Syd Beck, was drinking heavily, and the show collapsed. Queenie and Mike mortgaged their Sydney home to raise the money to pay off the cast and buy their return fares.

In 1938 Mike joined the ABC as presenter of the immensely popular Hospital Half Hour. He was also in radio variety and conducted the ABC’s national breakfast session. In 1944 Mike retuned to the Tivoli as a ‘feed’ for Roy Rene, and a year later Queenie was back choreographing the ballets.

Toward the end of 1946, Queenie and Mike signed with entrepreneur Harry Wren, who was presenting revue at the Cremorne in Brisbane. Queenie produced The Tommy Trinder Show for Wren in Brisbane and Adelaide.

Connors died in 1949. The following year Queenie went into partnership with Martin Goode in an attempt to establish ‘a permanent home for variety in Sydney’. The leased the 900-seat Tatler in Liverpool Street – the former Australian Picture Palace, it boasted an exterior designed by Walter Burley Griffin and an interior modernised by C. Bruce Dellit, designer of David N. Martin’s Liberty and Minerva theatres. Queenie’s Tatler shows starred Adelaide comic Hal Lennon and his new bride, Val Jellay, but the venture was not a success. Queenie became resident producer at Joe Taylor’s Celebrity Club in York Street, Sydney, where she ‘discovered’ Dawn Lake. In 1953 Queenie accepted an offer from the Singapore-based Shaw Brothers to present glamorous revues in their hotels, clubs and cinemas; she also took her eight famous ‘sun-kissed’ dancers to entertain the troops in Malaya.

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Biographical references

Victoria Chance: ‘Queenie Paul’, in Companion to Theatre in Australia, Currency Press, 1995
Frank Van Straten: Tivoli, Lothian Books, 2003
Frank Van Straten: ‘Connors and Paul – Two of the Best’, in Tivoli Follies, unpublished manuscript, 1999