“My great-grandad performed for the King”
Lesley Elson, Kent
Lesley’s famous relative brought the house down at the turn of the century
I was delighted to discover I had a celebrated actor in my family tree. My great-grandad even performed for George V during an extremely successful career.
My relative was the famous Gaiety actor and comedian Edmund 'Teddy' Payne. Edmund was born in Dalston London in 1863 and started 'treading the boards' when he was a teenager.
He began in touring companies going around the country putting on shows. He got his first 'big break' in about 1882 in Faust Up-to-Date, produced by George Edwardes.
This was the start of a great career with the famous Gaiety Theatre. There's a film of my great-granddad called the Gaiety Duet, made in 1909, and he made a few recordings for HMV.
I've found out that he even appeared in a Gala Performance at His Majesty's Theatre in London in front of George V. This was put on to celebrate the new King's coronation in 1911.
Edmund was well respected by his peers and a great favourite with audiences. He died in 1914 – his death made the front page of the Daily Mirror and was reported in The New York Times and as far away as Australia. England lost a great actor – I'm so proud to be his great-granddaughter.