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Dallas Actor's Grave Found In Cemetery

When setting out to try to locate the family headstone of the actor J.J. Dallas I did not envisage that of the many such cemetery forays aimed at finding the final resting places of some of the many half forgotten luminaries buried here, this search would provide a such a frisson of anticipation. The family grave lies close to the Ivy road pathway in Ladywell cemetery and inscribed in remarkably clear lapidary splendour is the name of J.J. Dallas on a headstone which I sighted when it was fortuitously caught in a sunlit moment amid overhanging branches.

wonderful image of J.J. Dallas ( courtesy : Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America)
Wonderful image of J.J. Dallas (courtesy : Music Hall Guild)


So just who was J.J. Dallas ?

John Joseph Dallas (real name John Joseph Allan) was born in the Soho district of London in April 1847 the son of John James Allan, jeweller, and his wife Cordelia née Beaumont. After gaining his thespian experiences as a vocalist and filling in with jobbing roles on the variety stage as an actor he made his London debut in 1878 in Franz Von Suppe's opera Fantinitza at the Alhambra Theatre.

His subsequent stage history is set out below from the D'Oly Carte Opera Company website :
He was soon engaged by John Hollingshead, who was stockpiling low comedians for the Gaiety Theatre, in 1880. Dallas appeared in many Gaiety productions during the next several years, notably The Forty Thieves (1880-81), Aladdin (1881-82), and F. C. Burnand's Bluebeard (1883), all of which were huge money-spinners.

Dallas performed in productions at the Avenue and the Prince of Wales's from 1885 to 1888, before returning to the Gaiety with August Van Biene's Company in Faust Up-to-Date in 1889. He appeared in a Cinderella pantomime in Manchester for Christmas 1889, and then toured with his own company in Little Jack Sheppard in 1890.

In August 1891 he was engaged by D'Oyly Carte to replace Rutland Barrington as Punka, the Rajah of Chutneypore, in The Nautch Girl at the Savoy. The next month Dallas was in turn replaced by W. S. Penley at the Savoy, but joined Carte's touring "D" Company where he played Punka until the tour ended in December 1891."D" Company was back on tour in March 1892, this time with Dallas playing the title role in a newly revised version of The Vicar of Bray. Haddon Hall was added to the tour in December 1892, and Dallas played the Vicar and Rupert Vernon until the tour ended in December 1893.

He next traveled to America with Carte's American Utopia Limited Company, playing the role of King Paramount I in New York and Boston (March-June 1894). Returning to Great Britain later that year, he left the D'Oyly Carte briefly to appear in The Lady Slavey at London's Avenue Theatre, but rejoined Carte's "D" Company when The Vicar of Bray was restored to the repertoire in November 1894. Once more cast in the title role, he played the Vicar until January 1895 when he again left the Company.

Dallas returned to the London Stage, appearing at the Avenue in The New Barmaid (1896), and the Shaftesbury in The Wizard of the Nile (1897). He rejoined the D'Oyly Carte organization once more, touring with "D" Company from December 1898 to September 1899 as the Vicar, Rupert Vernon, and King Ouf in The Lucky Star.

In 1900 he appeared in Charles Hoyt's A Parlour Match at Terry's Theatre in London. After visiting Australia in 1906, he returned to London in Nelly Neil at the Aldwych in 1907. In 1909, he toured The J. P. and Our Flat, and at Christmas 1909 appeared at the Shakespeare Theatre, Clapham, as Widow Niblick in Goody Two-Shoes.

A versatile entertainer, Dallas continued to perform in music hall sketches until his death in 1915. He also wrote a musical comedy, One of the Girls (Grand Theatre, Birmingham, 1896), and a Christmas pantomime, Jack and Jill and the Fairy Rill (Palace Theatre of Varieties, Manchester, 1897).

J.J. Dallas


So J. J. Dallas (whose stage persona is somewhat at variance with the ruthless oil baron character of J.R. in the popular American TV series Dallas ) enjoyed a fine acting career,  had six children, an invalid wife, and went bankrupt -- maybe a typical 19th century actor's story? He also played in a whole series of Savoy Theatre comedy roles. J.J.Dallas died at Eveline Road, Forest Hill, on the 24 August 1915.  He was interred in Ladywell cemetery four days later where he now lies undisturbed alongside other family members under a shady canopy, one might even say ' His Final Curtain'!

Following the discovery of his headstone - the Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America ' who were delighted with the discovery of his grave' have indicated that in time they may consider a possible restoration.
JJ Dallas gravestone
Newly discovered J J Dallas headstone (with Mike Guilfoyle : Foblc Vice Chair) courtesy of Phillip Barnes-Warden.Add caption