Charles S. Kitts
Charles S. Kitts (b. Ipswich, Suffolk, **/**/1871 – d. Singapore, 26/05/1928) was an actor and occasional playwright.
Charles S. Kitts was the son of Henry Kitts (1846-1918), a Shakespearean actor of some repute. His mother, Ethel (always credited as Mrs. Henry Kitts) , was also on the stage and, in fact, during the early years of Charles’s theatrical career he toured with the company of which she was a member. His first role is said to have been in East Lynne when he was just nine years old, which was followed by appearances in the pantomimes like Little Red Riding Hood staged at the Rotunda Theatre in Liverpool. A critic writing for The Stage wrote “Master Charles Kitts, though inclined at times to be a little too obtrusive, is very droll as Dame Riding Hood, and displays much natural ability.” When he became a professional actor he went on extensive tours with plays like The Bishop of the Fleet and The Dark Continent for Morell & Mouillot, but also acted in Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance at the Haymarket. He then turned to musical comedies for George Edwardes, with titles like The Shop Girl (more than 2,000 performances), My Girl, The Circus Girl and A Gaiety Girl. All of them were popular hits and were revived on a regular basis. Every year he also appeared in one pantomime or another, from Cinderella to Dick Whittington, for which he wrote the libretto. In 1893 he had married fellow actress Gertrude Harrison, but in 1906 she sued him for divorce.
In 1902 he had appeared with Rhoda Windrum in The Messenger Boy, who became his new partner. She had previously been married to Templer William Edward Edeveain, who was an opera singer and acted on stage and in film as Templar Saxe. Though the divorce only came through early in 1908, the year before he and Rhoda travelled to the United States. By that time he had rather given up on straight theatre and musical comedy and instead turned to vaudeville. For their joint appearances he wrote many short sketches and in February 1910 the couple appeared at the Empire Palace in Johannesburg. By 1914 and then in 1916 they were back in South Africa, appearing in a “pocket revue” called Gee-Whiz! at the Orpheum Theatre and in the musical show Betty at His Majesty’s Theatre. During this time he also had a role in Harold M. Shaw’s film De Voortrekkers (1916) and possibly an uncredited part in Lorimer Johnston’s Gloria (1916). (He probably knew Shaw, because two years before he had acted in a short film entitled A Batchelor’s Love Story for the London Film Company, which was Shaw’s company in England.)
After South Africa he and Rhoda turned up in Singapore, originally as part of a touring group called The Cameos, but then decided to settle there. In July 1921 they arrived back in London, but in October 1923 they returned to Singapore. They only made a few theatrical appearances, mostly in amateur productions. Instead they opened a dancing academy, where they taught all the latest dances, “making a speciality of the blues”. He died in 1928 at the age of 57. Amongst the wreaths received was one from Denis Santry and his wife, who were also living in Singapore. Rhoda eventually returned to England and died in Bournemouth in 1952. He is thought to have had three children, a daughter from his first marriage and two sons from the second. (FO)
The Stage, 25 January 1884
The Era, 12 February 1910
Malaya Tribune, 28 May 1928
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