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Rita Bernard Archive

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This material is held at V & A Department of Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390
Dates of Creation c. 1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard, variety performer
Language of Material English
Physical Description 1 box (12 files)

Scope and Content

The archive consists of chiefly photographic promotional materials as well as unbound and hand-written running orders, lyrics and sketch scripts relating to Bernard and Brown performances. Files also contain a small amount of personal ephemera items.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in 1903/1904, Rita Bernard was a variety and comedy star for almost all of her life, and enjoyed success as one half of the Bernard and Brown comedy duo, having partnered with Lancastrian comedienne Lena Brown. Their popularity peaked during the 1940's and early 50's, when they would appear regularly at the London Palladium and other leading London music halls. Amongst their most popular acts was the Two Little Girls in Blue policewoman double-act, not to mention their outings as Buttercup and Daisy, the ugly sisters in Cinderella at the Theatre Royal Glasgow, a role which they reprised for four years in a row (1942/3 - 1945/6). The duo split in the mid-50's and both took early retirement from showbusiness. Bernard was divorced from film producer Jack Hanbury and had no children, she died in 1988, aged 85.

Arrangement

The original working order of this archive has been lost, and items within it are largely undated, therefore composite series have been created.

Arrangement

  • THM/390/1 Promotional Items
  • THM/390/2 Photographs
  • THM/390/3 Scripts
  • THM/390/4 Lyrics
  • THM/390/5 Running Orders
  • THM/390/6 Costume Lists
  • THM/390/7 Personal Ephemera

Conditions Governing Access

All files open for viewing.

Acquisition Information

The Rita Bernard Archive was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in September 2009, as a gift.

Accruals

No accruals expected.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Veronica Castro, Archive Assistant, V&A Theatre and Performance Collections, February 2011

Subjects

Variety
Vaudeville
Music-Halls

Personal Names

Brown, Lena
Bernard, Rita

Cataloguing Info

Title Rita Bernard Archive
Creation Created by Veronica Castro using the cheshire for archives ead creation tool 2011-02-11

Promotional Items

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/1
Dates of Creation c. 1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 file

Scope and Content

Promotional items for Bernard and Brown double act.

Personal Names

Bernard, Rita
Brown, Lena

Promotional Items

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/1/1
Dates of Creation c.1940's-1950's
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Contains outsize printed promotional poster for the double-act. Poster reads Bernard and Brown Variety Star Comedy Team


Photographs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/2
Dates of Creation c. 1940s-1950s
Physical Description 6 files

Rita Bernard Publicity Photographs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/2/1
Dates of Creation c. 1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 folder ( 28 photographs)

Scope and Content

Contains the following, all black and white and sepia, 4 of which are signed by her;

  • 7 studio and stage photographs of Rita Bernard as an Ugly Sister.
  • 6 studio head shots of Rita Bernard.
  • 13 studio and stage photographs of Rita Bernard in a variety of costumes including tophat and tails outfit, oriental tunic and lederhosen outfit. Productions unknown.
  • 2 studio photographs of Rita Bernard as Alice Fitzwarren.

Two Little Girls in Blue Photographs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/2/2
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 folder (16 photographs)

Scope and Content

Contains 7 black and white and sepia studio photographs of Rita Bernard and Lena Brown in police-woman costume, appearing as their Two Little Girls in Blue" characters. There are 9 onstage photographs of the same.

Personal Names

Bernard, Rita
Brown, Lena

Ugly Sisters Photographs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/2/3
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 folder (8 photographs)

Scope and Content

Contains:

  • 3 sepia studio-shots of Rita Bernard and Lena Brown in character as Ugly Sisters Buttercup and Daisy, in Cinderella. Venue and year of production unknown.
  • 4 sepia and black and white on-stage photographs of Bernard and Brown as same. Venue and year of production unknown.
  • 1 sepia studio-shot of Bernard and Brown as same, printed on a promotional postcard. Labelled Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 1945-46. Scottish press reviews are printed on the other side.

Personal Names

Bernard, Rita
Brown, Lena

Bernard and Brown Publicity Photographs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/2/4
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 folder (9 photographs)

Scope and Content

Contains 8 black and white and sepia studio publicity shots of Bernard and Brown. Also contains 1 shot of the pair taking a bow onstage, performance unknown.

Personal Names

Bernard, Rita
Brown, Lena

Lena Brown Publicity Photograph

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/2/5
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 folder (1 photograph)

Scope and Content

Contains 1 black and white, studio head-shot of Lena Brown.


Maggie Duggan Cabinet Card

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/2/6
Dates of Creation c.1940's-1950's
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 folder (1 large cabinet card)

Scope and Content

Contains 1 sepia A4 cabinet card of English variety and music-hall performer Maggie Duggan (d.1919) dressed as Principle Boy character. Inscribed "Yours while Maggie Duggan / To Frank A Gondyn"


Scripts

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/3
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 file

Scope and Content

Scripts for Bernard and Brown sketches.


Scripts

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/3/1
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Contains predominantly hand-written loose-sheet scripts for comedic sketches performed by Bernard and Brown. Includes typed sketch for a Visitors in Variety broadcast, as well as scripts for such sketches as Two Little Girls in Blue, Little Girl and Mama and Wrens. Scripts have been grouped together where appropriate. Also included are 3 notebooks more sketch outlines and a bag of sketch fragments. Fragments are such that cannot be identified due to illegible handwriting, or those which do not seem to be complete.


Lyrics

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/4
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 file

Scope and Content

Lyrics for songs used in Bernard and Brown shows.


Lyrics

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/4/1
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Contains predominantly hand-written lyrics for songs to be included in Bernard and Brown shows. Song titles include Front Line Sally, You've Got me Walking on Air and Olga Swing the Volga.


Running Orders

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/5
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 file

Scope and Content

Running orders for Bernard and Brown shows.


Running Orders

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/5/1
Dates of Creation 1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Contains handwritten sketch, song and band parts running lists for Bernard and Brown shows.


Costume Lists

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/6
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 file

Scope and Content

costume lists for Bernard and Brown shows.


Costume Lists

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/6/1
Dates of Creation 1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Contains handwritten costume lists for Bernard and Brown shows.


Personal Ephemera

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/7
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1950'
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 file

Scope and Content

Variety of miscellaneous personal ephemera.


Personal Ephemera

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/390/7/1
Dates of Creation 1940s-1950s
Name of Creator Rita Bernard
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Contains an address book and various collected individual address scraps, correspondence (including 2 fan letters), receipts of payment, some examples of Bernard and Brown headed paper, and other miscellaneous papers.