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22 July 2008

Annie Hindle (1847 - 19?) male impersonator

She was named Annie after her adoptive mother. She was first on stage at the age of five in the pottery district of Hertfordshire.

Later, in London, she adopted male costume as her specialty, and performed as Charles Ryan. Other women had earlier included a male persona in their acts, but had not specialized. She was also the first to present as a nattily-dressed swell.

In 1867, she was brought to New York as the first ‘out-and-out male impersonator New York’s stage had ever seen’. She was paid very well, as much as $150 per week.

The next year she had a six-week marriage with Charles Vivian, an English comic singer and co-founder of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. She accused him of violence. They never filed for divorce.

Afterwards Hindle went for more realism in her act, including shaving until she developed a moustache. She appeared in New York on the same bill as the notorious female impersonator, Ernest Boulton (now calling himself Byne). In the 1870s she managed the Grand Central Variety Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio. However it suffered from low attendance and she went back to acting.

In 1886, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in male clothes and using the name ‘Charles’, she married her dresser Anna Ryan. The best man was female impersonator, Gilbert Saroney, in mufti. The press got the story, and many insisted that Charles Ryan was a man who had been passing himself as a woman for 20 years. This claim ended her career, and the two women, both dressed as women lived in Jersey City until Ryan died five years later.

Annie attempted to return to the stage, but found only small-time bookings.

Emma Donaghue has turned Annie’s life into a play, Ladies and Gentlemen, first performed in 1996.
  • "Man or Woman?" Grand Rapids Evening Leader June 7, 1886: 4.
  • "Married Her Maid: The Strange Story of Charles and Annie Hindle, a Man Masquerading as a Woman." Grand Rapids Telegram-Herald June 7, 1886: 4.
  • "Married as a Man." Grand Rapids Daily Democrat June 8, 1886: 5.
  • "Stranger than Fiction: The True Story of Annie Hindle's Two Marriages." New York Sun December 27, 1891: 13.
  • Laurence Senelick. The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre. Gender in performance. London, New York: Routledge, xvi, 540pp. 2000: 329-331.
  • Gillian Rodger. “Hindle, Annie (ca 1847-19??)”. glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. 2002.

1 comment:

  1. I am wondering about your dates on Annie Hindle. According to Wikipedia, Annie and her mother arrived in the U.S.A in 1868, but you write "In 1867, she was brought to New York as the first ‘out-and-out male impersonator New York’s stage had ever seen’. She was paid very well, as much as $150 per week." Just an observation.
    paula key


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