Jeanette Sherwin

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Jeanette Sherwin (b. Marylebone, London, 22/02/1894 – d. 08/07/1936, Bromley, Kent) was an actress.


Jeanette Mathilda Marie Amy Sherwin Görlitz (or variations thereof) was the daughter of the celebrated Tasmanian-born opera singer Amy Sherwin and her husband, German-born Hugo Görlitz. Her father was initially her mother’s concert manager, but went on to become a prominent musical agent and impresario (his clients included, at various times, Kubelik and Paderewski). Though her parents spent much of their time touring, both as a couple and separately, her father became a naturalised British subject in 1893 and thereafter also used the surname of Sherwin. Jeanette was born in London in 1894 and it is not known whether she accompanied her mother when Madame Sherwin visited South Africa in 1896. In any case, at the time of the British Census of 1901 the family, which included her older brother Louis, was living in Beckenham in Kent.

In 1907 she performed at her mother’s farewell concert in Hobart and from then on began to get involved in assisting her in other ways. She also excelled at “vocal recitations”, but as she always wanted to appear on the stage, began studies with Rosina Filippi. Her first engagement was at the People’s Theatre in the East End, when she played Portia in The Merchant of Venice (1914) under the direction of Miss Filippi. Other Shakespearean parts followed, including the role of Olivia in Twelfth Night in Paris. After the outbreak of World War I she joined a group headed by her mother that gave street concerts to raise funds for the war effort and Christmas 1914 saw her in pantomime in Portsmouth.

In 1915 she came out to South Africa for J.C. Williamson to play in It Pays to Advertise at His Majesty’s Theatre. Other plays in which she appeared were The Whip, Are You a Mason, Peg o’ My Heart and Common Clay, the latter two produced by George R. Montford. After coming back to London she served her country as a war-time nurse and subsequently returned to the theatre and acted in Sacred and Profane Love. Thereafter she joined H.B. Waring, whom she had met in South Africa and who was about to embark upon an extensive tour of India and the Far East. They left in April 1920 and returned in March 1922. While in India, she and Waring acted in a silent film entitled Laila Majnu.

Later that year she left for the United States where her father was living at the time. That same year Hugo became an American citizen. Between 1922 and 1925 she acted in a number of plays, including Loyalties by John Galsworthy, Othello, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Vortex by Noël Coward and The Constant Wife by W. Somerset Maugham. In 1923 she also married James Jolley, who had fallen in love with her when he saw her on stage in 1914 and followed her to South Africa. During the war they had lost touch, but he saw her again in Sacred and Profane Love in 1919 and subsequently joined the touring Waring Company. After a nine-year courtship, she finally agreed to marry him. The story was written up in various newspapers of the time.

Eventually she seems to have retired from the stage and was appointed demonstrator for one of America’s most famous beauty specialists in Central Europe. After that things become uncertain. In 1907 her mother had retired in England and having parted from Hugo, turned to teaching to support herself. Perhaps things had not worked out between Jeanette and James either, because by the early 1930s both women were living in Bromley in Kent, where Jeanette was in a nursing home suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis. Both her mother and her father died in 1935 (he in Boston) and Jeanette herself died the following year. Her brother Louis Hugo Sherwin became the drama critic of the New York Globe and died in 1978. (FO)


Rand Daily Mail (various issues)

The New York Herald, 17 December 1922

San Francisco Chronicle, 8 April 1923

The Stage, 9 July 1936

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