Open main menu

LESLIE, FREDERICK, whose real name was Frederick Hobson (1855–1892), actor, son of a military outfitter at Woolwich, was born on 1 April 1855, was educated at Woolwich, at Notting Hill, and in France, and under the name of Owen Hobbs acted as an amateur at Woolwich and elsewhere. His first appearance in London took place in 1878 at the Royalty as Colonel Hardy in 'Paul Pry.' He then played at the Folly, the Alhambra,the Standard, and the Avenue as Faust in 'Mefistofele II,' Don José de Mantilla in 'Les Manteaux Noirs,' Le Marquis de Pontsablé in 'Madame Favart,' the Duke in 'Olivette,' and other characters in light opera, and more than once visited the United States, playing at the Casino, New York. His Rip van Winkle in Planquette's opera at the Comedy on 14 Oct. 1882 raised his reputation to the highest point it reached, and sustained comparison with that of Joseph Jefferson, whose greatest part it was. At the Alhambra he was seen in the 'Beggar Student,' at the Opera Comique in the 'Fay o' Fire,' and at the Comedy in the 'Great Mogul.' His first appearance at the Gaiety took place on 26 Dec. 1885 as Jonathan Wild in 'Little Jack Sheppard,' and resulted in his fine comic gifts being thenceforward confined to burlesque. In company with his eminently popular associate, Miss Ellen Farren, he became during many years a chief support of the house, appearing as Noirtier in 'Monte Cristo, Junr.,' Don Cæsar de Bazan in 'Ruy Bias, or the Blasé Roué,' the Monster in 'Frankenstein,' and many similar characters. In the composition of not a few of these burlesques he took part under the pseudonym of 'A. C. Torr.' With Miss Farren and the Gaiety company he visited, in 1888-9, America and Australia, reappearing at the Gaiety on 21 Sept. 1889. On 26 July 1890 he took part in 'Guy Fawkes, Esq.,' and on 24 Dec. 1891 in 'Cinder-Ellen up too Late,' having a share in the authorship of both pieces. He was playing in the burlesque last named when he was taken ill, and on 7 Dec. 1892 he died; he was buried on the 10th at the Charlton cemetery. Leslie was seen on occasions as Sir Peter Teazle, Sir Anthony Absolute, Dr. Ollapod, the Governor of Tilbury Fort in the 'Critic,' Barlow in '100,000l.,' and Sir John Vesey in 'Money.' He had high gifts in light comedy, and his burlesque performances often had more than a touch of comedy. His voice, his figure, and his method alike qualified him for burlesque, in which in his line he has had no equal. A good portrait is in Hollingshead's 'Gaiety Chronicles.'

[Personal recollections; Hollingshead's Gaiety Chronicles; Era, 10 Dec. 1892; Scott and Howard's Blanchard; Dramatic Peerage; Theatre and Era Almanack, various years.]

J. K.