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23 October 2008

Thomas Dilverd (1837 - 1887) female impersonator.

Thomas Dilverd (or Dilward) was a minstrel female impersonator. He was the rarity in black-face minstrelsy, an actual black man. He was also unusual in being only three feet one inch (0.93m) tall.

He sang, danced and played the violin. He started with the Christy Minstrels in 1853, and later worked with the minstrel troupe run by Francis Leon and Edwin Kelly, and billed himself as 'Japanese Tommy'.

He popularized the expression ‘hunky dory’ in the 1860s based on the earlier ‘hunkum-bunkum’ and’ dori’, a Japanese word for street.

He later worked with black minstrel troops.

His final home was the Colored Home and Hospital on East 65th St in New York where he died of asthma.
  • Anthony Slide. Great pretenders: a history of female and male impersonation in the performing arts. Lombard, Ill.: Wallace-Homestead Book Co., 160 pp. 1986: 17.
  • “Thomas Dilward”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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