Marie Lloyd Matilda Alice Victoria Wood (February 12, 1870 - October 7, 1922), was a British music-hall singer.
In her teens she adopted the name Marie Lloyd, and quickly became one of the most famous of British music-hall singers and comediennes. Her first major success was The Boy I Love is up in the Gallery. She was the eldest of nine siblings, seven of whom had theatrical careers, the most successful being Daisy, Rose, Grace, and Alice. All but Daisy performed under the name Lloyd in honour of their eldest sister, who when they were children had formed them into a group called the Fairy Bells Minstrels.
Lloyd's songs, although perfectly harmless by modern standards, began to gain a reputation for being "racy" and filled with double entendre, largely thanks to the manner in which she sang them, adding winks and gestures, and creating a conspiratorial relationship with her audience. She became the target of Vigilance or "Watch" committees and others opposing music-hall licenses. She liked to show that any immorality was in the minds of the complainants, and in front of these groups would sing her songs "straight" to show their innocence. In one famous incident, she was summoned before one of these committees and asked to sing her songs. She sang Oh! Mr Porter; and A Little Bit of What you Fancy in such a sweet innocent way that the committee had no reason to find anything amiss. She then rendered the drawing-room ballad Come into the Garden Maude in such an obscene way that the committee was shocked into silence. She did herself no favours.
The following year she made her first visit to the United States. Her "blue" reputation preceded her and she quickly gave an interview to the New York Telegraph newspaper that carried her quote "They don't pay their sixpences and shillings at a music hall to hear the Salvation Army. If I was to try to sing highly moral songs, they would fire ginger beer bottles and beer mugs at me. I can't help it if people want to turn and twist my meanings."
Although popular enough to command her own fees, Lloyd backed and supported the 1906 strike for better terms by music-hall performers. She was picketing one theatre when she recognised someone trying to enter. Lloyd shouted, "Let her through girls, she'll close the music-hall faster than we can." The singer was Belle Elmore, later murdered by her husband, Dr Crippen.
Marie Lloyd was married three times. Her spouses were:
Percy Courteney (12 November 1887-1905) (divorced) 1 child (separated 1895) Alexander Hurley (1905 - 6 December 1913) (his death) (separated 1910) Bernard Dillon (21 February 1914 - 7 October 1922) (her death) Her private life was also controversial. Her first marriage to Percy Courtenay was a stormy one and ended in divorce in 1905. She quickly married Alec Hurley the next year, and in 1910 met Irish jockey Bernard Dillon.
She first appeared in the USA in 1897, but she was refused entry in 1913 for "moral turpitude" when "Mr. and Mrs. Dillon" arrived together, but unmarried. After an enquiry, she was allowed to stay. Alec Hurley died two months later, and Marie and Dillon were married at the British Consulate in Portland, Oregon, on 21 February 1914.
During the First world war, like most Music Hall artists, she enthusiastically supported recruitment for the army. The recruitment went on in the music halls themselves, often in the tone "Two shillings for the first man to sign up tonight". In particular she sang the song "I didn't like you much before you joined the army, John, but I do like you,cockie, now you've got your khaki on." She also sang in many free concerts for the masses of wounded returning from the trenches.
Dillon began drinking heavily and abusing Marie and she began drinking as her own escape. In 1920, they separated. From then on Marie Lloyd went down hill and although she still worked, it became more and more difficult to get her on to the stage in time. Her voice became weaker and her act shorter. In October 1922 she was appearing at Edmonton, London. During the last song in her act I'm One of the Ruins That Cromwell Knocked About a Bit, she staggered about on the stage. The audience laughed delightedly when she fell, thinking it was all part of the act. However, she was desperately ill, and died three days later.
Enormous crowds attended her funeral. In the funeral procession there were twelve cars full of flowers and on top of the hearse was the long ebony cane with the sparkling top hat that she had used in her act.