Ada Reeve

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A popular English actress and singer on stage and screen in the late-19/early-20th century.
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b. Adelaide Mary Reeve, 3 March 1874, London, England, d. 5 October 1966, London, England. Reeve appeared in pantomime at the age of four and at six played a dramatic role in East Lynne with her actor parents. From 1883 she was in pantomime, plays and musical comedies, developing into an accomplished comedienne and singer. In 1894 she married actor Bert Gilbert and also became one of George Edwardes’ Gaiety Girls. She made her West End debut in the title role of The Shop Girl (1894), co-starring with Seymour Hicks, but had to quit the show to have a baby. Reeve made more London appearances, in All Abroad (1895) and The Gay Parisienne (1896), before she and Gilbert toured Australia. She became a victim of spousal abuse although she and Gilbert remained married until 1900. In the meantime, she had played in Milord, Sir Smith (1898), The Great Caesar and Owen Hall’s Florodora (both 1899), playing Lady Holyrood in the latter and after another tour of Australia she reprised the role for a UK tour in 1901. Later that year, she was in San Toy, eventually taking over the lead, and played the lead in Kitty Grey. In 1902 she was in Paul Rubens’ Three Little Maids and also remarried. Her new husband was actor-manager Wilfred Cotton, whose stepdaughter was nascent star Lily Elsie. Now working with Cotton, Reeve appeared in The Medal And The Maid (1903), Winnie Brooke, Widow (1904) and The Adventures Of Moll (1905). The following year, she and Cotton toured South Africa to great acclaim. Then came more London successes, notably Butterflies (1908), before a return trip to South Africa.

Over the next few years Reeve played UK music halls, undertook more tours of Australia and South Africa, and toured the USA. During the war years she toured the UK in A Modern Eve (a revised Winnie Brooke, Widow). In 1919, she made a silent film, Comradeship. Reeve spent most of the 20s on overseas tours and it was not until 1935 that she was again in London to play cabaret at the swish Trocadero nightclub. Now well past 60, Reeve was in various productions through the late 30s and early 40s and from the mid-40s also had minor roles in some films including Night And The City (1950). She continued to appear on stage until she was 80 and in small roles in films for three more years.