Walter Passmore as The Devil in The Beauty Stone

Walter Passmore (1893-1903)

[Born London 10 May 1867, died Golders Green, London 29 Aug 1946]

Walter Henry Passmore made his first appearance on the professional stage at age fourteen at Sunderland as a page in the pantomime Cinderella. He was subsequently apprenticed to Cramers, the piano maker, but at the end of his indentures returned to the stage, working as a pianist with traveling concert parties and performing in farcical comedies. He made his debut on the London Stage at the Standard Theatre, Bishopgate, in May 1890, in The Flying Scud.

His first appearance in the West End was also his first engagement with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, creating the small part of Greg in Barrie, Conan Doyle, and Ford's Jane Annie at the Savoy (May-September 1893). He next created the part of Tarara, the public exploder, in Gilbert & Sullivan's Utopia Limited (October 1893-June 1894), and appeared as Bobinet in Mirette (July-August and October-December 1894). Between productions of Mirette, which was revised and restaged, he joined Carte's Company "A" on tour in Utopia as King Paramount (September 1894).

After Mirette closed for the second and final time, Passmore created the role of Peter Adolphus Grigg in The Chieftain (December 1894-March 1895). He then appeared on tour (while the Savoy was leased to the Carl Rosa Company and then closed for several months) with Carte's Companies "D" (April-May, as Bobinet, and Grigg), "E" (July, as Grigg), and "B" (July, as Grigg).

In November 1895 he returned to the Savoy where he played Ko-Ko in two revivals of The Mikado (November 1895-March 1896 and July 1896-February 1897). In between he created the role of Grand Duke Rudolph in The Grand Duke (March-July 1896). In February 1897 he created the part of Boodel in His Majesty, then appeared as Jack Point in the first revival of The Yeomen of the Guard (May-November 1897), General Boum in The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein (December 1897-March 1898), and Don Alhambra in two revivals of The Gondoliers (March-May and July-September 1898). From May to July 1898 he was The Devil in the first production of The Beauty Stone.

Passmore subsequently appeared at the Savoy as the Usher in Trial by Jury and John Wellington Wells in The Sorcerer (September-December 1898), King Ouf I in The Lucky Star (January-May 1899), Sir Joseph in the second revival of Pinafore (June-November 1899), Hassan in The Rose of Persia (November 1899-June 1900), the Sergeant of Police in the second revival of The Pirates of Penzance (June-November 1900), Reginald Bunthorne in the first revival of Patience (November 1900-April 1901), Professor Bunn in The Emerald Isle (April-November 1901), Ping-Pong in The Willow Pattern (November 1901), the Lord Chancellor in the first revival of Iolanthe (December 1901-March 1902), Walter Wilkins in Merrie England (April-July 1902, and on tour), and Puck in A Princess of Kensington (January-May 1903, and on tour).

When the tour ended, Passmore left the D'Oyly Carte organization for good, transferring to the Adelphi where he appeared as Jim Cheese in The Earl and the Girl. He continued to perform in musical comedies, plays, and pantomimes in London and on tour, for another thirty years. His last role before retirement in 1933 was Count Theodore Volney in The Damask Rose.

Passmore was married to fellow D'Oyly Carte artist Agnes Fraser in 1900. He sang the part of Ko-Ko in an historic 1908 recording of The Mikado for Odeon (reissued on Pearl LP GEMM 198). He also recorded over a dozen of individual songs from the Gilbert & Sullivan operas between 1900 and 1913, several of which are preserved on the "Art of the Savoyard" LP set and CD.

Page modified April 6 , 2003 © 2001-03 David Stone