Reginald Alfred Schwitzguebel (1874-1954)
Reginald Alfred Schwitzguebel was a stage and early screen actor who appeared in over 50 short comic films made between 1914 and 1915 in Holmfirth by Bamforth and Co., Limited, mostly as the character "Winky". During his lifetime, he also used the surnames Schwitz and Switz before settling on Sheridan.
He was born on 6 November 1874 in London, the son of hotel manager Jules Alfred Schwitzguebel and his wife Elizabeth Mary Wyatt (née Sheridan). His grandfather, Jean Christ "Jules" Schwitzguebel, had immigrated to England from Switzerland.
At the time of the 1901 Census, the couple were living as lodgers in Manchester and both gave their occupation as "musician"s.
Between 1900 and 1927, he toured with various companies as a stage performers, initially with the surname Schwitz, then Switz, and later, perhaps due to the distrust of foreign-sounding names during the First World War, adopting his mother's maiden name of Sherdian which he continued to use for the remainder of his life.
Reviews for "The Earl and the Girl" in 1905 noted that he was a "versatile comedian, whose conception of what an Earl should be keeps the house in a roar", "his incongruous comicalities in the second act especially convulsing the house with laughter", "a capital comedian who leaves nothing undone to make the play a success", "a comedian of infinite resource, and he kept the house [who] kept the house in roars of merriment", and "was immensely popular with the audience".
The reviews of "Violette" noted that "the bulk of the comedy is left in the hands of Reginald Sheridan, a well-known comedian, who is constantly producing yells of laughter" and "his humour bubbles over at every turn, and his impromptu sallies amused not only the audience but the players as well".
His father Jules was working as a tour guide to an American family when their motorcar crashed on Kirkstone Pass, Cumbria, on the afternoon of 11 September 1912. According to an eyewitness, the car was descending Troutbeck Road when it appeared the brakes failed and it ran out of control. Jules was found in a ditch with "his head beaten to a pulp" and died shortly afterwards.
In May 1913, Bamforth and Co., Limited of Holmfirth began placing the following notice in cinema trade journals: "Wanted, good short stirring plots, comic and drama". From 1914 to 1915, Reginald stared as "Winky" in over 50 short (one reel) comic films for Bamforths.
Frances Maud and Reginald had separated prior to 1911 and, at some point he began a relationship with married actress Lily Ward who had appeared alongside him in some of the Bamforth short films, including A Comedy of Errors (1915), Tommy's Freezing Spray (1915) and And That's How the Row Began (1915).
In October 1915, he returned to stage roles and appeared in the revue "Watch Your Step" at the Leicester Square Empire, London, which was billed as "a musical treat" and "the last word in syncopation". The production toured until June 1916.
By 1918, he was formally using the name Reginald Alfred Sheridan and he and Lily were living at 19 Rylett Road, Hammersmith, London. At the time of the 1921 Census, he noted on the return that he was "out of work" but had been performing at the Empire in "The Rebel Maid".
By 1929 he was the landlord of the Tower Arms at Iver. By 1931, he and Lily were the publicans of the Bricklayers Arms, Stoke Road, Slough. At some point in the 1930s, the couple moved to Australia.
He died on 17 March 1954 in South Australia and was buried at North Brighton Cemetery. It seems he never married Lily, who was buried in the same plot in January 1978 as Lily Scott (her name from her marriage to actor Alfred "Alf" William Scott).
Only entries marked in green are known to have survived. An exact date indicates the release date advertised by the distributor in cinema trade journals. Otherwise, the best guess of the release month is given. When neither in known, (C) indicates the first cinema screening found in the newspaper archives. "??/???/1914" indicates that the date is unknown and/or the film may not have been released commercially.
|15/Jun/1914||Winky Learns a Lesson in Honesty (1914)||Y|
|18/Jun/1914||Kill That Fly! (1914)||Y|
|22/Jun/1914||Winky and the Gorgonzola Cheese (1914)||Y|
|25/Jun/1914||Winky and the Leopard (1914)||Y|
|29/Jun/1914||Winky Causes a Panic (1914)||Y|
|06/Jul/1914||Winky Dons the Petticoats (1914)||Y|
|13/Jul/1914||The Muddletown Fire Brigade (1914)||Y|
|20/Jul/1914||Winky's Guilty Conscience (1914)||Y|
|27/Jul/1914||Winky, the Tally Man (1914)||Y|
|03/Aug/1914||Winky's Ruse (1914)||Y|
|10/Aug/1914 (C)||Winky's Insurance Policy (1914)||Y|
|24/Aug/1914||Winky, the Park Policeman (1914)||Y|
|31/Aug/1914||Winky Goes Camping (1914)||Y|
|03/Sep/1914||Winky Causes a Smallpox Panic (1914)||Y|
|07/Sep/1914||Winky Diddles the Hawker (1914)||Y|
|10/Sep/1914||Winky's Week End (1914)||Y|
|14/Sep/1914||Winky's Nextdoor Neighbour (1914)||Y|
|17/Sep/1914||Winky Takes to Farming (1914)||Y|
|21/Sep/1914||Winky as a Suffragette (1914)||Y|
|24/Sep/1914||Winky Gets "Spotted" (1914)||Y|
|28/Sep/1914||Winky Gets Puffed Up (1914)||Y|
|01/Oct/1914||Winky Waggles the Wicked Widow (1914)||Y|
|05/Oct/1914||Winky's Lifeboat (1914)||Y|
|08/Oct/1914||Winky is Accused of a 'Orrible Crime (1914)||Y|
|12/Oct/1914||Winky and the Cannibal Chief (1914)||Y|
|15/Oct/1914||Winky Becomes a Family Man (1914)||Y|
|19/Oct/1914||Winky Goes Spy Catching (1914)||Y|
|22/Oct/1914||Winky's Mother-in-Law (1914)||Y|
|26/Oct/1914||Winky Wins (1914)||Y|
|29/Oct/1914||Winky Tries Chicken Raising (1914)||Y|
|16/Nov/1914||Winky's Fireworks (1914)||Y|
|07/Dec/1914||Winky's Strategem (1914)||Y|
|10/Dec/1914||Winky Goes to the Front (1914)||Y|
|21/Dec/1914||Winky's Jealousy (1914)||Y|
|24/Dec/1914||Winky: Bigamist (1914)||Y|
|28/Dec/1914||Winky and the Cannibal Chief (1914)||Y|
|31/Dec/1914||How Winky Fought for a Bride (1914)||Y|
|??/???/1914||Itching Powder (1914)||Y|
|??/???/1914||Winky and the "Dwarf (?)" (1914)||Y|
|??/???/1914||The Mighty Atom (1914)||Y|
|04/Jan/1915||Winky's Cat (1915)||Y|
|07/Jan/1915||Winky's Invisible Ink (1915)||Y|
|11/Jan/1915||Winky's Carving Knife (1915)||Y|
|21/Jan/1915||Winky Becomes a Family Man (1915)||Y|
|24/Jan/1915||Birds of a Feather Plot Together (1915)||Y|
|01/Feb/1915||Winky Goes Spy Catching (1915)||Y|
|04/Feb/1915||Peppering His Own Porridge (1915)||Y|
|15/Feb/1915||Winky: Photographer (1915)||Y|
|18/Feb/1915||Winky's Blue Diamond (1915)||Y|
|25/Feb/1915||Oh! My! (1915)||Y|
|04/Mar/1915||The Troubles of a Hypochondriac (1915)||Y|
|29/Apr/1915||Winky is the Long and Short of It (1915)||Y|
|03/May/1915||And That's How the Row Began (1915)||?|
|10/May/1915||Venus and the Knuts (1915)||Y|
|24/Jun/1915||Dr. Violet Dearing (1915)||?|
|15/Jul/1915||Tommy's Freezing Spray (1915)||?|
|23/Aug/1915||Sharps and Flats (1915)||Y|
|08/Nov/1915||A Bid for a Bounty (1915)||Y|
|23/Dec/1915||A Mushroom Stew (1915)||Y|
He toured with various companies as a performer in the early 1900s, initially with the surname Schwitz, then Switz, and later, perhaps due to the distrust of foreign-sounding names prior to the outbreak of war, adopting his mother's maiden name of Sherdian which he continued to use for the remainder of his life. The following were found during research. Unless indicated with one of the following, he was named as Reginald Schwitz:
- † = as Reginald Switz
- * = as Reginald Sheridan
- part in Bizet's "Carmen" at the Royal, Birmingham — The Stage (27/Sep/1900)
- Remendado in Bizet's "Carmen" at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh — The Scotsman (09/Nov/1900)
- Compe de Fleury in "The Messenger Boy":
- Opera House, Crouch End, London —The Stage (05/Dec/1901)
- Regent Theatre, Salford —The Stage (05/Dec/1901)
- Ramsgate Amphitheatre —East Kent Times (02/Apr/1902)
- Hi Lung in the musical comedy "The Chinese Honeymoon":
- Harrogate Grant Opera House — The Stage (13/Aug/1903)
- Theatre Royal, Hanley — The Stage (10/Sep/1903)
- Belfast Opera House — The Stage (24/Sep/1903)
- Royal Court Theatre, Wigan — The Stage (15/Oct/1903)
- Royal Theatre, Darlington — The Stage (22/Oct/1903)
- The Avenue, Sunderland — Sunderland Daily Echo (24/Oct/1903)
- Crouch End Opera House, Ilsington — Islington Gazette (24/Nov/1903)
- Theodore Quench in "The Girl from Kay's":
- Royal, Brighton — The Stage (24/Dec/1903)
- The Coronet, London — The Stage (18/Feb/1904)
- The Kennington, S.E. London — The Stage (25/Feb/1904)
- The Alexandra, N. London — The Stage (05/May/1904)
- role in "The Schoolgirl":†
- Theatre Royal, Portsmouth — Portsmouth Evening News (02/Jan/1904)
- Jim Cheese (Cockney dog trainer) in "The Earl and the Girl":†
- The Theatre, Cheltenham — Cheltenham Examiner (18/Jan/1905)
- New Theatre, Oxford — Oxford Chronicle & Reading Gazette (03/Feb/1905)
- Cambden Theatre, London — London Evening Standard (04/Apr/1905)
- Grand Theatre, West Hartlepool — The Era (08/Apr/1905)
- Shakespeare Theatre, London — London Evening Standard (10/May/1905)
- Royal County, Kingston — The Stage (18/May/1905)
- Gaiety Theatre, Hastings — The Stage (17/Aug/1905)
- Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne — Eastbourne Gazette (23/Aug/1905)
- Victoria Opera House, Burnley — Burnley Gazette (20/Sep/1905)
- Her Majesty's Theatre, Walsall — Walsall Advertiser (14/Oct/1905)
- King's New Theatre, Gateshead — Newcastle Daily Chronicle (11/Nov/1905)
- South Sheilds Theatre — Shields Daily News (28/Nov/1905)
- Her Majesty's Theatre, Carlisle — The Stage (18/Jan/1906)
- Lyceum Theatre, Newport — The Era (24/Mar/1906)
- Private Charlie Taylor in "The Blue Moon":†
- Gaiety Theatre, Hastings — Hastings & St Leonards Observer (28/Jul/1906)
- Pleasure Garden Theatre, Folkestone — Folkestone Express (04/Aug/1906)
- Theatre Royal, Huddersfield — Colne Valley Guardian (14/Sep/1906)
- Theatre Royal, Leamington — Leamington Spa Courier (19/Oct/1906)
- Grand Theatre, Croydon — Croydon Chronicle (20/Oct/1906)
- The Theatre, Cheltenham — Cheltenham Examiner (07/Nov/1906)
- Grand Theatre, Woolwich — Greenwich and Deptford Observer (30/Nov/1906)
- Theatre Royal, Portsmoth — Portsmouth Evening News (26/Dec/1906)
- Royal, Brighton — The Stage (17/Jan/1907)
- Lyceum, Sheffield — Sheffield Daily Telegraph (22/Jan/1907)
- King's Theatre, Edinburgh — Edinburgh Evening News (19/Feb/1907)
- ...n.b. further entries to be added here...
- Baron Pepsicorne in "Violette":*
- Empire Theatre, Preston — Preston Herald (16/Nov/1918)
- Hippodrome, Boscombe — Bournemouth Graphic (22/Nov/1918)
- Grand Theatre, Derby — Derby Daily Telegraph (01/Mar/1919)
- Palace Theatre, Manchester — Manchester Evening News (07/Jun/1919)
- Empire, West Hartlepool — Darlington North Star (14/Jul/1919)
- Empire, Gateshead — Newcastle Evening Chronicle (23/Jul/1919)
- Hippodrome, Boscombe — Bournemouth Graphic (08/Aug/1919)
- Winter Gardens, New Brighton — Liverpool Daily Post (02/Sep/1919)
- Grand Theatre, Luton — Luton News (06/Nov/1919)
- Sam (a fisherman) in "The Rebel Maid" at the Empire Theatre, London — The Era (16/Mar/1921)*
- Judge in "Wrangle v Wrangle" with Tommy Handley at the Hippodrome, Sheffield — Sheffield Daily Telegraph (12/Dec/1922)*
- Calvin in "Suzanne" by Herbert Clayton & Con West:*
- Palace, Plymouth — The Stage (20/Dec/1923)
- Empire Theatre, Chiswick — West London Observer (08/Feb/1924)
- Leicester Palace — Market Harborough Advertiser (15/Feb/1924)
- Hippodrome, Derby — Derbyshire Advertiser (25/Apr/1924)
- Shepherd's Bush Empire — West London Observer (09/May/1924)
- "The Cabaret Girl" at the Pleasure Gardens Theatre, Folkstone — Folkestone Herald (25/Jul/1925)*
- Waiter in "The Best People" at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool — Fleetwood Chronicle (05/Mar/1926)*
- Donkey in "Hit the Deck":*
- Alhambra, Glasgow — The Stage (13/Oct/1927)
- Hippodrome, London — The Stage (10/Nov/1927)
Notes and References
- Birth registered in Westminster, London.
- Sue Keating's detailed research into the family tree can be found on Ancestry (subscription required).
- Daughter of merchant William Hodgson.
- At the time of the marriage, Reginald's father's occupation was recorded as "agent" and he is believed to have become a travel agent.
- She was born 26 August 1903 in Bridlington. Marjorie's own memoirs form the basis of Playing the Empire: A Dancer's Life (2008) by John Chapman, ISBN 9780755210800.
- "Terrible Motor Smash on Kirkstone Pass" in Lakes Herald (13/Sep/1912).
- Almost certainly Reginald would have lodged in Holmfirth during this period, as the company was often releasing two new "Winky" films each week.
- The separation was due to her liaison with musical director Ernest Herman, however they apparently never divorced. Playing the Empire: A Dancer's Life (2008) by John Chapman, chapter 1.
- He was buried as Reginald Alfred Sheridan.
- Also Thanet Advertiser (05/Apr/1902) and "Ramsgate" in The Stage (31/Jul/1902).
- Toured by Mr. George Dance's Company.
- Toured by Mr. William Greet's Company.
- Toured by Mr. Robert Courtnedge's Company.
- A score with original cast is available to view online: https://archive.org/details/rebelmaidromanti00phil