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Alice Belmore Cliffe 1865 – 1943

Birth: 1865, 24th January in St Paul, Kensington and Chelsea, London

Death: 1943, 31st July in Flushing, Queens, New York

Alice Maude Belmore Garstin was born to the great actor George Benjamin Belmore and his wife, actress Alice Maude Mary Ann Cooke.  They lived in Wimbledon in Surrey, and moved to Lambeth in London while Alice was still young.   As a child Alice Belmore played in the nearby Battersea Park with her brother Herbert Belmore, the youngest of her siblings.  Her family was a large one, with four brothers and two sisters, all in the acting and stage performance professions.   As actors they were used to travelling to theatres all around the UK, and at 14 Alice travelled to New York from Liverpool on the ship ‘City of Chester’.

Little Alice Belmore Garstin

Little Alice Belmore Garstin

Paul Lionel Alice and Lillian Belmore

Front: Paul Belmore Garstin. Back: Lionel, Alice and Lillian

Alice entered the theatrical profession as a young girl, and shared the stages of London and the UK with such renowned actors as Henry Irving, Wilson Barrett, Ellen Terry and Charles Wyndham. She also had a long and successful US career in Broadway theatre, where her first US important role was in Sir Anthony.

Alice was also a member of Actors Equity, and the Actors Fund charity organisations.

In 1884, Alice had her first important role in the Wilson Barrett company production of Claudian, at the Theatre Royal in Birmingham.  She stared alongside her sister Lillie Belmore, her brother Lionel Belmore, and their mother Alice Cooke, and also her husband to be, Henry Cooper-Cliffe.

Claudian

Claudian, with Wilson Barrett, Lionel, Lillian and Alice Belmore, Alice Cooke and Henry Cooper-Cliffe.

In 1887 the Wilson Barrett Company sailed on board a ship called the Alaska, across the Atlantic towards Liverpool.  Among them were Alice, her sister Lillie and Henry Cooper-Cliffe.  While at sea, the company performed the play ‘The Colour Sergeant’ in aid of charity, with programmes giving the address of the ‘theatre’ as ‘Atlantic Avenue’.

Alice Belmore married Thomas Henry Cooper-Cliffe in 1887, July, at the age of 22, at St. James’ Church in Clapham.  Henry was 25, and an actor in productions by Wilson Barrett and Henry Irving,  Alice and Henry lived in Battersea, London.

Henry Cooper-Cliffe

Henry Cooper-Cliffe

1890

  • The People’s Idol, at Olympic Theatre, London, alongside husband Henry Cooper-Cliffe, brothers Lionel and Paul Belmore, sister Lillie Belmore, and mother Alice Cooke. Produced by and also starring Wilson Barrett
  1. Alice and Henry had their first child in 1891, Anges Maude Coope- Cliffe.
  • The Stranger, at Olympia, London, alongside husband Henry Cooper-Cliffe, sister Lillie Belmore and brother Paul Belmore
  • The Lights of London, at Olympia, London, alongside husband Henry Cooper-Cliffe, and brothers Lionel and Paul Belmore
  • Tommy, at Olympia, London, alongside brother Paul Belmore
  • A Yorkshire Lass or A Toll of Drums, alongside brothers Lionel and Paul Belmore
  • Ben-My-Chree, at Olympia, London, alongside husband Henry Cooper-Cliffe and sister Lillie Belmore
  • Hamlet, at Olympia, London, alongside husband Henry Cooper-Cliffe and brother Lionel Belmore
  • The Acrobat, at Olympia, London, alongside husband Henry Cooper-Cliffe and brother Paul Belmore

Alice and Henry travelled together to New York on the ship ‘City of Berlin’ from Liverpool in 1892. They sailed back to Liverpool the next year on the ‘Arizona’, then to New York again in 1894 on the ‘Germanic’.  In 1895 they returned to Liverpool again on the ‘Germanic’ with a company of actors, and later the same year went to Boston, Massachusetts on the ‘Pavonia’ with their four year old daughter.

The Germanic, White Star Line

On an occasion shortly before the end of the run of ‘The Silver King’, a Wilson Barrett production, the Prince of Wales entered Alice’s dressing room while she was on a break.  The story goes as follows, as printed in The New York Times in 1896:

“One of the most humorous incidents that ever happened to me, was one evening shortly before the termination of the run of ‘The Silver King’. Having a ‘wait ‘ of half an hour, I was seated in my dressing room, snatching a hasty repast of oysters and ‘stout’, and looking over a new part which had just been handed to me. I had just left Mr. Barrett on the stage to finish the act, when I heard a knock on my room door.

“’Entrez!’ I exclaimed; when the door was pushed open, and you may imagine my astonished and trepidation when I saw the Prince of Wales quietly enter, smoking a cigarette, and quite unattended.

“’Ah, Miss Belmore,’ he said; ‘I hope you will pardon this intrusion on your privacy. I was on my way to Mr. Barrett’s room, as I thought; but must have made a mistake.’

“’Mr. Barrett is on the stage at present,’ I replied; ‘but he will be upstairs in a few minutes, when the act is over. May I offer you a chair?’

“’Many thanks,’ he added, ‘but perhaps you object to smoking?’

“’Not at all, sir.’

“Whereupon he seated himself quite affably. I was all in a flutter, for it had just occurred to me that the Prince had dropped in for a quiet drink.

“I had nothing to offer him, although my own empty ‘pewter’ on the table told its own tale. Suddenly I remembered that Mr. Barrett always kept a private decanter in his room. So I made a move toward the door, and asked the Prince if he would kindly excuse my absence for a few moments. He politely opened the door for me, and I darted into Mr. Barrett’s room.

“’Quick!’ I said, to his man. ‘Give me the brandy, two glasses and bottles of soda.’

“The startled dresser at once complied with my request, and then I hastened back with my loot. I thought I noticed a merry twinkle in the eyes of my visitor as I deposited my drinkables upon the table.

“’If Mr. Barrett had been present,’ I said, ‘he would have asked you to take a drink. May I take that stupendous liberty?’

“My future sovereign, who was shaking with laughter, promptly replied:

“’Why, that is exactly what I have come for.’

“He then insisted upon helping both of us, and he opened the bottles of soda quite cleverly. Soon I heard Mr. Barrett ascending the stairs, and saying to someone who was with him, ‘Come along, old man and have a drink in my den.’ I felt uncommonly queer. The Prince heard all, and was enjoying the scene intensely. Presently we heard Mr. Barrett ordering his man to prepare the drinks, and when the poor fellow had told him all about my felonious visit, he knocked at my door, and shouted at me savagely:

“’Alice, what have you done with my brandy and soda?’

“I quietly opened the door, and will not attempt to describe the horrified look of the popular actor, when he recognised the illustrious personage who was emptying his glass with evident enjoyment. If ever Mr. Barrett’s knees shook, they shook then. I thought the scene very funny, however. As for the Prince, he was now fairly convulsed with laughter.

“’Miss Belmore is a delightful hostess’, he said, ‘and I have enjoyed my visit immensely.’

“With profuse apologies, which only increased the Prince’s merriment, Mr. Barrett then escorted our royal visitor back to his box. I feared that I had got into an awful scrape, but I was not banished or otherwise punished because I took the daring liberty of inviting the best friend and patron our profession ever had to take a stolen drink.”

  1. Sailed from Cape Town with her daughter Agnes aboard ‘The Greek’.
  • Burmah, American Theatre, New York

1897

  • The Sign of the Cross, at Lyric Theatre, London, alongside sister Daisy Belmore and brother Paul Belmore

Alice and Henry had their second child in 1898, Doris Cooper-Cliffe.

  1. Sailed alone from New York to London on the ‘Manitou’.
  • The Silver King, at Lyceum, London, alongside sister Daisy Belmore and brother Paul Belmore
  • Man and His Manners, at Lyceum, London, alongside sister Daisy Belmore and brother Paul Belmore
  • The Sign of the Cross, at Lyceum, London, alongside sister Daisy Belmore and brother Paul Belmore
  • The Deemster, at Lyceum, London, alongside sister Daisy Belmore and brother Paul Belmore
  • The Colour Sergeant, at Lyceum, London, alongside brother Paul Belmore
  • The Manxman, at Lyceum, London, alongside sister Daisy Belmore
  • Othello, at Lyceum, London, alongside brother Paul Belmore
  • Hamlet, at Lyceum, London, alongside brother Paul Belmore

In 1901, Alice, Henry and their daughters are registered as living in Streatham, London on the England and Wales Census.

  1. Arrived in London on the ‘Minneapolis’ alone, from New York.

Minneapolis

  • Richard III, in London

1905, Travelled to New York from Liverpool with Henry and a company of actors on the ‘Arabic’.

  • Lucky Durham, at Knickerbocker Theater, New York, with Henry Cooper-Cliffe
  • The Brighter Side, at Knickerbocker Theater, New York, with Henry Cooper-Cliffe
  • Back to the Land of the Living, at Savoy, London
  • The Man Who Was, at New Amsterdam Theatre, New York, with Henry Copper-Cliffe
  1. Travelled to the US twice from Liverpool. To Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, alone on the ‘Haverford’, and to New York on the ‘Carmania’ with a full company of actors, including her husband Henry and her brother George.
  • The Jury of Fate, at Shaftsbury , London, alongside brother Lionel Belmore
  • Sir Anthony, at Savoy Theatre, New York
  1. sailed alone to Philadelphia on the ‘Haverford’ from Liverpool again. Alice’s UK home address is now in Teddington, London.
  • King Lear
  • Hamlet
  • Merchant of Venice

Arrived in Liverpool via Queenstown, Ireland from Philadelphia, on the ‘Haverford’ with Henry in 1908. Then went back to Philadelphia with Henry again on the ‘Merion’.

  1. Arrived in Liverpool via Queenstown, Ireland from Philadelphia, on the ‘Friesland’ with Henry. Travelled from London to Quebec with Henry on the ‘Sicilian’ before entering the USA via the Canadian border. Then went to Liverpool via Queenstown, Ireland from Philadelphia, on the ‘Lucitania’ alone.
  • Barber of New Orleans, at Daly’s Theatre, New York, with Henry Cooper-Cliffe and Lionel Belmore
  • Herod, at Lyric Theatre, New York, with Henry Cooper-Cliffe and Lionel Belmore
  1. Arrived in New York on the ‘Philadelphia’ from Southampton with Henry and their daughters.
  • The Girl Who Took the Wrong Turning, at Aldwych, London, produced by Walter and Frederick Melville

Alice and Henry settled in New York in 1911, although they still frequently travelled between the US and UK, with work and family now on both sides of the Atlantic.

  1. Sailed to London from New York on the ‘Minnewaska’ with Henry Cooper-Cliffe and Lionel Belmore.
  • The Monk and the Woman, at Lyceum and Princes Theatres, London, produced by Walter and Frederick Melville
  • Oliver Twist, at New Amsterdam Theatre and Empire Theatre, New York
  • Ben-My-Chree, at Princes Threatre, London, produced by Walter and Frederick Melville

Dickens Centenary Celebrations New Amsterdam Theatre

In December 1912, Alice participated in the Stage Society of New York’s plans to evade the ban on performing drama on Sundays.  As there had been threats from the police to arrest all concerned if a performance occurred on a Sunday in the Lyceum Theater, the three one-act plays that were planned commenced after midnight, effectively Monday morning.  Alice was in Nocturne, the first of the performances.  A police inspector was in the invite-only audience, but no arrests were made.

1914

  • The Adventures of a Lively Hussy
  • Lady Betty, at England Theatre

1915

  • Her Forbidden Marriage, at Lyceum, alongside brother-in-law Gilbert Heron, produced by Walter and Frederick Melville
  • Between Two Women, at Lyceum, London, alongside brother George Belmore, produced by Walter and Frederick Melville
  • The Shop Soiled Girl
  • Treasure Island, at Punch & Judy Theatre, New York
  • Robinson Crusoe, at Lyceum, London alongside brother George Belmore, produced by Walter and Frederick Melville

1916

  • Screen Struck
  • The Girl Who Wrecked his Home
  • Women and Wine, at Lyceum, London, produced by Walter and Frederick Melville
  • Monte Cristo, at Lyceum, London, produced by Walter and Frederick Melville

1918

  • Seven Days Leave, at Park Theatre, with Henry Cooper-Cliffe
  • My Pigeon Past, at Edinburgh Royal Lyceum

1919

  • Penny Wise, at Belmont Theatre and Punch & Judy Theatre, New York

Alice worked on the radio in California, with regular programmes such as Bob Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and the Sherlock Holmes series.

1920

  • Paddy the Next Best Thing, at Shubert Theater, New York
  • No More Blondes, at Maxine Elliot’s Theatre, New York

Paddy the Next Best Thing - Alice Belmore-Cliffe

1922

  • Fanny Hawthorne, at Vanderbilt Theatre, New York
  • Radio try out “Tons of Money”

1923

  • Windows, at Garrick Theatre, New York
  • The Failures, at Garrick Theatre, New York
  1. This year also included an Atlantic crossing to Liverpool.
  • The Mongrel, at Longacre Theatre, New York

1925

  • Hay Fever, at Maxine Elliot’s Theatre, New York
  • Androcles and the Lion, at Klaw Theatre, New York

1926

  • The Chief Thing, at Guild Theater, New York

1928

  • Major Barbara, at Guild Theatre, New York

1929

  • Meet the Prince, at Lyceum Theatre, New York
  • Michael and Mary, at Charles Hopkins Theatre, New York

1930

  • The Stepdaughters of War, at Empire Theater, New York

1931

  • I Love an Actress, at Times Square Theatre, New York
  • Hay Fever, at Avon Theatre, New York

1934

  • Rain from Heaven, at John Golden Theater, New York
  • The Wooden Slipper, at Ritz Theater, New York
  • Dream Child, at Vanderbilt Theatre, New York

1935

  • The Taming of the Shrew, at Guild Theater, New York
  • Flowers of the Forest, at Martin Beck Theater, New York

1937

  • Madame Bovary, at Broadhurst Theatre, New York. Part of Benn W. Levy’s American Tour.

1938

  • The Greatest Show on Earth, at Playhouse Theatre, New York

1939

  • Dear Octopus, at Broadhurst Theatre, New York

Alice’s husband Henry Cooper-Cliffe died in 1939 at the age of 76.  Alice described their marriage to each other as 52 years of happiness in a letter to younger relatives.

1941

  • The Doctor’s Dilemma, at Shubert Theater, New York
Alice Belmore in The Doctor's Dilemma

The Doctor’s Dilemma

1942

  • The Three Sisters, at Ethel Barrymore Theater, New York

Alice Belmore-Cliffe  Three Sisters Ethel Barrymore

Alice Maude Belmore-Cliffe and Judy Anders in The Three Sisters

Alice Maude Belmore-Cliffe and Judy Anders in The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters became Alice’s final play, which ran until April 1943.  The same year in July Alice Belmore died at the age of 78 in the Park West hospital in New York after a brief illness.  At this time she resided at 245 West Fifty-first Street.  Survived by daughter Doris Cooper-Cliffe, who was now named Doris Wallace.

Alice Belmore Orbituary