Dorothy Beatrice Langley (c.1898-?)

Dorothy Langley was a singer and actress.


Born Dorothy Beatrice Langley in Huddersfield, the daughter of Borough policeman William Albert Langley and his wife Nellie Hempsall (née Gillatt).

Her older sister Mildred was a gifted pianist who first performed at Huddersfield Town Hall aged 12. In subsequent performancess, Dorothy sometimes accompanied her and was said to have a strong contralto voice.

By 1911, Hilda Martha Garner (aged 7) and her father were lodging with the Langleys on Northgate, Almondbury. Hilda, who was described as a gifted young mimic and comic, also began performing with the sisters. In late June 1914, she performed at the King's Hall, Dover, accompanied by Dorothy and Hilda (who was introduced as being a younger sister).[1] Together, they billed themselves as "The Three Rubenstein Vladia" and played further dates in July.[2]

In December 1914, Mildred organised a benefit concert at Huddersfield Town Hall which included a 400-strong chorus of children and other young performers. Both Dorothy Dorothy and Hilda sang at the concert.[3]

Dorothy, Mildred and Hilda — the latter now nicknamed "Baby Langley" as she was the youngest of the three — were advertised in a notice placed in The Stage (28/Jan/1915) as the Langley Sisters Trio:

The Stage 28 January 1915.jpg

A Great Discovery


Age 14 years,
The Beethoven of to-day, both in likeness and gonitis, whose works have bean accepted by HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN, also by HER MAJESTY QUEEN ALEXANDRA.

Age 15 years,
The girl with the marvellous voice, who will sing her Sister Mildred’s works, AND

Age 11 years,
Who will give her impressions of great Artists, and CONDUCT THE BAND to her Sister Mildred’s compositions.

First Class Offers only entertained.

All communications, Manager,
West End Reviews Productions Co.,
13, Hart Street, W.C.
'Phone: 2815 Gerrard.

Hilda's talent as a comic and mimic resulted in her starring in at least six short comic films as "Baby Langley" for Bamforth & Co. Ltd. between April and August 1915:

The Three Prodigies (1915-18)

London Palladium (May 1915)

In early May 1915, the Langley Sisters Trio performed at the London Palladium, where Hilda conducted the orchestra. Their popularity led to run being extended through to mid-June.

Infant prodigies on the stage are fewer than they used to be, but occasionally we come across a new one. At the Palladium, Baby Langley, a very clever little mimic, and her two sisters, also quite young — one is an accomplished composer, and plays beautifully, and the other has a mellow contralto voice of surprising richness — are a welcome addition to the programme. Their "turn" is all too short.
Westminster Gazette (04/May/1915)

Following on from their success at the Palladium, the sisters toured as "The Three Prodigies" until December 1918 with dates including:

  • August 1915 — Burnley Palace & Hippodrome, Shepherd's Bush Empire, Southampton Palace Theatre, Leicester Palace Theatre
  • September 1915 — Folkestone Pleasure Gardens Theatre
  • October 1915 — London Coliseum
  • December 1915 — Middlesbrough Empire
  • February 1916 — Bristol Hippodrome
  • June 1916 — Hammersmith Palace
  • July 1916 — Dundee King's Theatre & Hippodrome, Kirkcaldy Theatre, London Palladium
  • August 1916 — York Empire, Woolwich Hippodrome, Croydon Empire, Penge Empire
  • September 1916 — Edinburgh Empire, Glasgow Empire, Aldershot Hippodrome
  • October 1916 — Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham Grand Theatre, Aberdeen Palace Theatre
  • November 1916 — London Coliseum, The Middlesex
  • December 1916 — Cardiff Empire, Shepherd's Bush Empire, Wood Green Empire
  • January 1917 — Hackney Empire, Bradford Alhambra, Clapham Grand
  • February 1917 — Holborn Empire, Kilburn Empire, Bristol Hippodrome
  • March 1917 — Manchester Hippodrome
  • April 1917 — Ilford Hippodrome
  • May 1917 — Rochdale Royal Hippodrome
  • August 1917 — Leeds Empire, Hammersmith Palace
  • September 1917 — Ardwick Empire, Manchester Palace, Leicester Palace
  • October 1917 — Newcastle Empire, Croydon Empire, Finsbury Park Empire
  • November 1917 — Hull Palace
  • February 1918 — Lewisham Hippodrome, Woolwich Hippodrome
  • March 1918 — Nottingham Empire, Chatham Empire, Cheswick Empire
  • April 1918 — Manchester Hippodrome, Bristol Hippodrome, Shepherd's Bush Empire
  • May 1918 — Lewisham Hippodrome, Glasgow Coliseum Theatre
  • June 1918 — Wigan Hippodrome, Clapham Grand Palace, Hampshire King's Theatre, Portsmouth King's Theatre
  • August 1918 — Mansfield Empire
  • September 1918 — Leicester Palace
  • October 1918 — Manchester Empire
  • November 1918 — Clapham Grand Palace, Shoreditch Olympia
  • December 1918 — Hammersmith Palace, Poplar Hippodrome, Willesden Hippodrome, Ilford Hippodrome

Later Life

Dorothy continued as a stage actress until at least the 1940s, often taking the role of principal boy in pantomime.[4]. One of her more notable roles was as Junetta in the original West End production of Stanley Lupino's "Love Lies" in 1929. Sadly, she didn't reprise the role in the 1932 film version of the play.

The last performance found during research was in "A Waltz Dream" at the Preston Royal Hippodrome in June 1946. According the the IMDB site, she may have had an uncredited role as "Lizzie" in the 1949 film The Last Days of Dolwyn, which starred Richard Burton and Edith Evans.


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Notes and References

  1. The Era (01/Jul/1914).
  2. These dates were presumably cut short by the outbreak of war.
  3. "Benefit Concert" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (07/Dec/1914).
  4. The Stage (30/Dec/1932) contains a two-page spread titled "Principal Boys and Girls", including a portrait of Dorothy.