Queenie Paul OAM 1893-1982
Eveline Pauline Paul was born in the Sydney suburb of Pyrmont on 30 December 1893.
In 1917 Queenie married an American vaudevillian, Mike Connors.
Aptly named Brighter Days, their first revue opened on 4 April 1931.
Thanks for the memory
‘She was a woman with untold energy and drive, a born showman, of course,’ said veteran comedian Ron Shand. ‘And she had the brains. She wasn’t what you’d call a great performer, but she had a very strong personality and a lot of ability. And she knew what would suit her. She had a flair for clothes, probably because of her French background. She was a hard task master and she was always the driving force. Nothing could stop Miss Queenie Paul!’
Eveline Pauline Paul was born in the Sydney suburb of Pyrmont on 30 December 1893. ‘I was the first girl after four boys,’ she explained, ‘and they said, “Isn’t she a little queen!” – so they called me Queenie and the name stuck.’ She learnt dancing and studied singing with Grace Miller, Hugh J. Ward’s wife. By the time she was 15 she was in J.C. Williamson choruses, and understudying as well. In 1915 she was ‘second boy’ in Mother Goose. The following year she graduated to Principal Boy in The Bunyip, Fullers’ 1916 all-Australian pantomime, in which she shared the spotlight with Stiffy and Mo.
In 1917 Queenie married an American vaudevillian, Mike Connors, who was touring for Fullers’ with his partner Freddie Witt. Queenie and Mike formed a double act and for a while produced shows for Jack Asprey at the Cremorne in Brisbane. They were back with Fullers’ when live theatre was hit by the ‘talkies’ and the Depression.
Like most of their colleagues, Mike and Queenie were out of work – but not for long. Queenie argued that a bright show at a minimal admission price would attract the unemployed, so they pooled their savings, hired the Haymarket Theatre in George Street, Sydney, and begged and borrowed scenery and costumes. Aptly named Brighter Days, their first revue opened on 4 April 1931. Their early headliners were Hector St Clair, Roy Rene and Jim Gerald. They played twice daily to full houses. ‘Connors and Paul’ never looked back.
Watch this space
Victoria Chance: ‘Queenie Paul’, in Companion to Theatre in Australia, Currency Press, 1995
Frank Van Straten: Tivoli, Lothian Books, 2003
Frank Van Straten: ‘Connors and Paul – Two of the Best’, in Tivoli Follies, unpublished manuscript, 1999