Vera Pearce

Vera Pearce (27 May 1895 – 18 January 1966) was an Australian stage and film actress. Her lengthy career was carried out in both her home country and in England.[1][2]

Vera Pearce
Portrait by May and Mina Moore
Annie Vera Pearce

(1895-05-27)27 May 1895
Died18 January 1966(1966-01-18) (aged 70)
Lambeth, London, England
Years activec. 1900–1961
RelativesHarold Holt (nephew)


Born in Broken Hill (New South Wales), Pearce spent much of her youth in Adelaide, and made her stage debut there at age five with the World's Entertainers[3] She went on to train as a juvenile performer in pantomimes and musical comedies produced by J.C. Williamson Ltd, and in 1910 scored much acclaim for her role in the Firm's hit production Our Miss Gibbs (1910).[4]

After making her film debut in The Shepherd of the Southern Cross (1914), Pearce went to England with the aim of carving out a career there but was induced to return to Australia shortly afterwards by Hugh D. McIntosh, General Manager of Harry Rickards Tivoli Theatres Ltd.[5]

Pearce made her return to the Australian stage in November 1914 as one of the stars of the Tivoli Follies revue, and remained with the show throughout its two and a half year tour around the country. Among the other productions she appeared in over the next seven years were The Beauty Shop (1917), My Lady Frayle (1919), The Officers' Mess (1919), His Little Widows (1920) and Chu Chin Chow (1920), in which she played Zahrat-al-Kulub opposite Charles H. Workman (as Ali Baba).[6][7]

Pearce moved to the UK in 1922, with one of her earliest shows being Love's Awakening. She went on to work consistently on the London stage in musicals and pantomimes up until her death. Her last notable appearance, though, was in a 1957 New York City production of Georges Feydeau's farce Hotel Paradise (aka L'Hôtel du libre échange).[8] She also appeared in at least 16 films between 1931 and 1966.

Personal life

Pearce was in a long-term relationship with a married man, Hugh D. McIntosh. Her nephew Harold Holt became Prime Minister of Australia.[9]

Historical note

Pearce won two beauty contests in Australia. The first was promoted by West's Pictures in Sydney in 1911. The second event, the 1916 White City Beauty Competition, created controversy when it became known that the judges were linked to the vaudeville industry. The revelation also led to a number of 100-1 bets being placed by well-known "sporting gentlemen" for Pearce to win. When she was announced the winner the huge audience reportedly went "frigidly silent [being] too astounded to take the result seriously" [10]



  1. "Vera Pearce." BFI. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  2. "The Stage". The Mail. Adelaide. 4 July 1914. p. 22. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
  3. "Miss Vera Pearce." The Mail (Adelaide) 28 June 1913, p.12. [Retrieved 16 February 2014]
  4. "Vera Pearce" at Australian Variety Theatre Archive. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  5. "West's Gala Night". The Mail. Adelaide. 11 July 1914. p. 22. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
  6. Murphy, Lynne. "Vera Pearce." Companion to Theatre in Australia. Sydney: Currency Press, 1995, p. 429
  7. Gänzl, Kurt. "Chu Chin Chow Musical Tale of the East In 3 Acts, Music by Frederic Norton", Operetta Research Center, 9 July 2016
  8. Murphy, Lynne. "Vera Pearce." Companion to Theatre in Australia. Sydney: Currency Press, 1995, p.429.
  9. Hugh D. McIntosh at Live Performance Hall of Fame
  10. "How Vera Won." Theatre Magazine June 1916, p.42 (Cited in "Vera Pearce" at the Australian Variety Theatre Archive). Retrieved 16 February 2014.
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