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11 July 2010

Lea Sonia (191? – 1941) impersonator

Benjamin O’Reilly grew up to become Lea Sonia, Australia’s major female impersonator, in the 1930s.

In Paris he mentored the young Barri Chat.

In 1941 he was the headline star at Sydney’s Tivoli Theatre. He finished his encore with the song, “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone”. He ran across the street, darkened in the wartime brownout and was fatally hit by a tram.

He is featured as a ghost in Alex Harding’s musical, Only Heaven Knows, 1988, about gay life in Sydney.
  • Laurence Senelick. The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre. London & New York: Routledge xvi, 540 pp 2000: 365.

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