Friday, June 25, 2010

The Ingenious Mr.Tich

Harry Relph was only a little over four feet tall with six digits on his hands and toes. This didn't worry him very much, however. Other people would have considered these characteristics disadvantages, but little 'Mr.Tich' used them to his advantage in his bright career.

The sixteenth child of a 77 year old Kent publican, Harry Relph was born in 1867. He soon decided that he wanted to go on the stage. At the tender age of 12, he was aa 'blackface' singer in one of London's remaining pleasure gardens,
the Rosheville. He soon started singing in the music halls, starting at the Middlesex

He decided on the name of 'Mr.Tich' because of the Tichborne Claimant. This man claimed to be the heir to an ancient baronetcy, but the real heir was lost at sea. The claimant weighed 25 stone, so Mr.Tich chose the name to emphasize the differences between them. It was catchy and short, and turned out to be a wise choice.

Mr.Tich's act was alternatively grotesque and hilarious. He became famous for impersonating many different kinds of people, including grocers, fairy queens, and Spanish dancers. He also satirized famous people, such as Louie Fuller.

One of his most popular acts was the one in which he danced on boots that were almost half his size. They were 28 inches long. Audiences loved to see him balancing on these tall boots.

Mr.Tich was very popular in Paris as well as London. He appeared at the Folies Bergere in Paris many times. The French honoured him by admitting him to the Academie Francaise.

Mr.Tich's Boot Dance


Hels said...

Excellent, thanks.

I did know that the use of the nickname Tich came from the Tichborne Claimant saga. But I didn't know of Harry Relph, your Mr Tich. He was quite a goer, wasn't he?

You mentioned the Rosherville Gardens in passing. I will go back and link them to my post on 19th century pleasure gardens. Many thanks

Hels said...

Ohhh Viola, I forgot one funny touch.

Australians always use the opposite adjective to describe and exaggerate a person's main characteristic. So a stunning redhead will almost always be called Bluey.

The thing to wonder about here here is that Tichborne was HUGE, so calling him Tich would have been ironic and faintly ridiculous. Calling Harry Relph Tich was sensible and (hopefully) loving.

Viola said...

Hello Hels,

Harry Relph was an amazing little fellow! I should have mentioned that he also starred in a few films. I will add something about that later.

Australians do use nicknames like that. I wonder if that was an old English, or even an old Cockney habit? My uncle was called Bluey but I don't think that he had red hair. I wonder what else it could mean?

Little Harry was very popular so I hope that it was a loving nickname!

I will be interested in reading more about the Rosherville Gardens.