Obituary for Mr John Rodger Geville, 1894



Mr. John Rodger Greville whose death took place at his residence, Drummond street, Carlton, last Sunday morning, was a popular Australian comedian, whose career extended over a period of 40 years. He had been suffering from an internal complaint for several years past, but he was sufficiently well to take a prominent part in the last Christmas pantomime at the Princess's Theatre, and he did not then appear to be in bad health. At that time however, he bad been so long absent from the Melbourne boards that he had lost touch with the public.

Mr. Greville, who was born in Dublin 60 years ago, arrived in Melbourne in 1854, being then 19 years of age. After a brief experience on the Bendigo goldfield he adopted the stage as a profession. In his 21st year he married Miss Webster, an actress who for a long time held a good position on the boards, but who retired into private life 20 years ago. Mr. Greville had strong individuality. He was very successful in Irish characters, but his range was a wide one, and for a lengthened period he was the most popular comedian in Australia.After playing in the principal country towns he came to Melbourne. During one season he was the leading actor in burlesque at the old Pantheon Theatre in the Cremorne gardens.

After the departure of Mr. George R. Fawcett, he took up the part of the Widow Twankey in "Aladdin."  The hit he made in this character was followed by many other diverting impersonations. Among his best remembered delineations are O'Callaghan in "His Last Legs" (one of G. V. Brooke's famous parts), Larry in "Youth," and "A Party by the Name of Johnson" in "The Lancashire Lass." Having also had long experience in the legitimate drama, he was a good Touchstone in "As You Like It," a good First Gravedigger in "Hamlet," and a somewhat demonstrative Peter in "Romeo and Juliet."

For several years he was in partnership with Mr. Geo. Coppin and Mr. John Hennings, in the management of the Theatre Royal, and he also travelled through the colonies as manager of a company. He was an institution at the old Theatre Royal. No other actor was ever on better terms with his audience, and he was allowed to take liberties with them of a kind which are never thought of in these more sedate days.

Mr. Greville was always a careful man in business matters, and he was understood to he well off. A few years ago he visited Europe, and was greatly interested in the performance of the "Passion Play," which he saw at Ober-ammergau. Mr. Greville's last public appearance was in the part of the "bold bad baron" in the pantomime of "Red Riding Hood" at the Princess's, in December and January last. He leaves a widow and two sons, one of whom is a doctor at Perth, Western Australia and the other a member of Miss Maggie Moore's company, now appearing at the Theatre Royal. The deceased gentleman was as genial and humorous in private life as he was upon the stage. When he met strangers in a cab or in a railway train he generally had them roaring with laughter before they had travelled far together. He was an ardent angler, and was at one time a constant frequenter of the banks of the Saltwater River.

Source: The Australasian, (Melb. Vic.) 5 May, 1894, page 32, Trove NLA. 138593621.

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