This film is part of Free

Kitty Mahone

Victorian Music hall star Lil Hawthorne sings the popular 'Kitty Mahone' in this earliest surviving 'sound film'

Performance 1900 2 mins


Walter Gibbons was one of Britain's most forward-thinking film entrepreneurs, and deeply entranced by the music hall. In 1900 he launched his 'phono bio tableaux', which synchronised songs recorded by famous music stars on disc with a film of the performance. Sadly, all but one of the films are lost, making this last survivor a unique record of a major Victorian music hall star in sound and vision, as well as the oldest British 'sound film' - nearly 30 years before the 'talkies' arrived here.

Lil Hawthorne, who performs this song, was a well-known American singer, often adopting a male persona, although she was not strictly a male impersonator. It was her concerns about the disappearance of a friend that alerted the police to the crime of the notorious murderer Dr Crippen.