Solo flight in tiny biplane

Here’s another photograph from the December 1 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a female pilot:

Mildred Bruce (1895-1990), commonly referred to as Mrs. Victor Bruce, seems to have been born with the need to travel very quickly. At the age of 15, she was riding her brother’s motorcycle around West London. In 1920, she bought her first car and was prosecuted on three consecutive days for speeding.

In 1927, she took up endurance motor racing, finishing sixth in the Monte Carlo Rally after going three days without sleeping. Later that year, accompanied by her husband, a journalist, and an engineer, she drove north from Europe to 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the farthest north that a car was driven until the 21st century.

In 1929, she started taking powerboats on endurance trials. She crossed the English Channel both ways in one trip. Later that year, she travelled 694 nautical miles in 24 hours.

After this, she also took up flying. By 1930, she owned her own plane, the Bluebird, and took it on a round-the-world trip, becoming the first woman to accomplish this feat as a solo pilot (crossing the oceans on a ship). The total distance of the trip was about 19,000 miles.

Ms. Bruce never gave up her love of going fast: at the age of 78, she test-drove a car at 110 miles per hour.


Noted antipodean aviatrix

Here’s a photo from the December 1 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an Australian female pilot who was presumed missing.

Jessie Miller (1902-1972) was found by an Australian sailor shortly after this photo appeared. Born Jessie Beveridge, she married journalist Keith Miller when she was 18. After giving birth to a child who died in infancy (and two miscarriages), Ms. Miller decided that she no longer wanted to be an Australian housewife.

While visiting family in London in 1927, she met pilot Bill Lancaster and persuaded him to take her as a passenger on a flight from England to Australia. She and Lancaster fell in love, though both were married. She acquired her pilot’s license and became the only Australian woman to compete in the “Powder Puff Derby” of 1929, an American all-women race.

The two relocated to Florida and, in 1932, Lancaster was looking for work in Mexico while a writer, Haden Clarke, was living with Ms. Miller and working on her autobiography. Clarke and Ms. Miller fell in love in Lancaster’s absence and planned to marry (Ms. Miller had obtained a divorce from her husband). On hearing this, Lancaster returned immediately to Florida, and Clarke was killed by a shot to the head. The shot was from Lancaster’s gun, and he confessed to forging suicide notes found at the scene of the crime, but nonetheless he was acquitted of Clarke’s murder.

The Great Depression made it difficult for Ms. Miller to raise money for further adventures. She eventually married pilot Johnnie Pugh in 1936.

As for Lancaster: his eventual fate was cruel. He crashed in the Sahara Desert in 1933 and died of thirst when no one was able to rescue him. His body was not found until 1962; his diary was found intact and was published with Ms. Miller’s permission.

The People Australia website contains a detailed biography of Ms. Miller. I also found a Pathé film clip of Miller and Lancaster’s original flight. A biography exists, titled The Fabulous Flying Mrs. Miller.


Wrestling stage-managed

Today, all I want to do is post this headline from the November 27 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

It hadn’t occurred to me that there was a time that professional wrestling was not stage-managed! The Wikipedia page for wrestling states that it was considered a serious competitive sport up to the 1920s.


Beautiful study

Here’s a photograph from the November 27 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of two sisters from the Greek royal family.

Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark (1906-1968) was widowed in 1942 when Prince George died in a plane crash. After his death, she raised their three children and performed assorted English royal family duties. (Prince George was previously mentioned in this blog here when he was contemplating marrying Poppy Baring.)

Princess Elizabeth of Greece and Denmark (1904-1955) had married Karl Theodor zu Toerring-Jettenbach earlier that year. She died of cancer at a comparatively young age.

The two sisters were first cousins of Prince Philip, the recently deceased husband of Queen Elizabeth II.


Two-piano recital

Here’s an ad from the November 23 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a performance by two pianists.

Winnifred Mazzoleni was the first wife of naturalized Canadian conductor Ettore Mazzoleni and the sister of another Canadian conductor, Ernest MacMillan (who was knighted in 1935). I could find nothing else on her and nothing on Kathleen Irwin.


Continental Varieties of 1936

Here’s an ad from the November 23 1935 edition of the Toronto Globe for a group of French performers who were about to appear at Massey Hall.

I did searches for the artists mentioned in this ad:

  • “Pils and Tabet” were actually Jacques Pills (1906-1970) and Georges Tabet (1905-1984). Of the two, Pills had the longer career; he sang the Monaco entry in the 1959 Eurovision song contest, and finished last.
  • Lucienne Boyer (1901-1983) started her working life in a munitions factory, forced to work there when her father died in the First World War. An office job in a theatre led to singing in Paris music halls and then to Broadway and tours. Her signature song was Parlez-moi d’Amour. In 1939, she married Jacques Pills; they divorced in 1951. Their daughter, Jacqueline Boyer, won the Eurovision song contest in 1960, the year after her father finished last.
  • The Jazz Age Club blog has a long article on the Rocky Twins.
  • Georges André Martin (1910-1957) specialized in making his fingers look like dancers. I found a British Pathé film clip of M. Martin’s fingers; I found it both strange and compelling.
  • I could find nothing on Helen Gray, and the only references to Iza Volpin’s quartet were to this show.


Brilliant violinist

Here’s a photograph from the November 23 1935 edition of the Toronto Globe of a female musician.

Edith Lorand (1898-1960) does not have a Wikipedia page, but she has a reasonably large Internet footprint. Among other links, I found a brief biography, a blog post, and a British Pathé film clip.

She was a successful recording artist in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, producing a large quantity of recordings for a number of labels. However, she was forced to flee Germany for her native Hungary in 1934, as she had Jewish ancestry. In 1937, she again had to flee, this time to the United States, where she took American citizenship and married. She returned to Berlin shortly before her death.


Spectacular Spanish dance star

Here’s an advertisement from the November 22 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for an upcoming show by a Spanish dancer.

Searches turned up very little on Teresina, whoever she was. I found two photographs (here and here) of her from 1932 and 1933, but mostly I found references to a city in Brazil named Teresina and restaurants named La Teresina. Her spectacular Spanish dancing appears to be lost to history.


Woman becomes undertaker

Here’s an article from the November 20 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a woman who had successfully obtained an embalmer’s licence.

As is usual in newspaper articles for at least a generation and more, the writer commented on Ms. Egan’s physical appearance, referring to her as a beautiful, young blonde. Men are virtually never described in this way.

I looked Ms. Egan up in the Toronto city directories, and it doesn’t appear that she had a chance to practice her new profession. The 1934 and 1935 directories list A. Viola Egan as a bookkeeper at Stone Funeral Services, the 1936 directory lists her as a bookkeeper but with no listed employer, and the 1937 directory does not list her at all. My best guess is that she bowed to the convention of her time and gave up her career to get married.


Giant balloon

Here’s a photograph from the November 20 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a large balloon in an even larger hangar in Akron, Ohio.

The balloon was named Century of Progress, after the trade show of that name that was held in Chicago in the summer of 1933. And, on the day that this photograph appeared in the newspaper, Thomas G. W. “Tex” Settle (1895-1980) helped set a world altitude record in the balloon, reaching a verified height of 61,237 feet.

Settle, a United States Navy officer who had been piloting airships and balloons, asked to be transferred back to sea duty in 1934. He commanded the USS Portland during the latter part of the Second World War. After the war, he served in various roles, retiring with the rank of Rear Admiral. His ambition was to become the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, which he did not achieve.