Oliver, Martha Cranmer (DNB00)

OLIVER, MARTHA CRANMER, always known as Pattie Oliver (1834–1880), actress, daughter of John Oliver, a scene-painter, was born at Salisbury in 1834, and appeared on the stage of the theatre in that town when only six years old. Here and at Southampton her performances of children's parts attracted attention, till in 1847 she made her metropolitan début under Mrs. Warner's management at the Marylebone Theatre. Her success gained her an engagement with Madame Vestris at the Lyceum, which lasted from 1849 to 1855. In 1855 she went to Drury Lane, where on 10 Oct. she played Matilda in ‘Married for Money,’ and on 4 Sept. 1856 Celia in ‘As you like it.’ In the same year her performance of Helen in the ‘Hunchback’ won such praise from the critics that Buckstone offered her an engagement at the Haymarket. There she was seen in Talfourd's burlesque of ‘Atalanta’ on 14 April 1857. Accepting an offer from Miss Swanborough, she became the leading actress in comedy and burlesque at the Strand Theatre for several seasons. On 29 Dec. 1858 she acted Amy Robsart in the burlesque of ‘Ye Queen, ye Earl, and ye Maiden;’ on 14 June 1859 Pauline in Byron's burlesque, the ‘Lady of Lyons;’ on 26 Dec. Lisetta in Talfourd's burlesque ‘Tell and the Strike of the Cantons;’ and on 26 Dec. 1860 the Prince in Byron's burlesque, ‘Cinderella.’

At the Haymarket, on 16 Nov. 1861, she was cast for Mary Meredith in ‘Our American Cousin,’ on Sothern's first appearance as Lord Dundreary in London. In 1863 she was at the Princess's, and on 10 April took the title-rôle in Byron's burlesque, ‘Beautiful Haidee.’ On 31 March 1866 she became manageress of the New Royalty Theatre, and opened with a revival of the ‘Ticket-of-Leave Man,’ and Reece's burlesque, ‘Ulf the Minstrel.’ In a clever and successful piece by H. T. Craven, entitled ‘Meg's Diversion,’ which was produced on 17 Oct., she acted Meg, the author played Jasper Pidgeon, and F. Dewar took the part of Roland. On 29 Nov. 1866 she put on the stage F. C. Burnand's burlesque, ‘The Latest Edition of Black-eyed Susan, or the Little Bill that was taken up.’ The piece, although it failed to please the critics, had an unprecedented run, and on its performance at the Royalty on 23 Sept. 1868, it was said that Miss Oliver had repeated the song of ‘Pretty See-usan, don't say no,’ no less than 1775 times. During the run of this burlesque she produced as a first piece Andrew Halliday's drama, ‘Daddy Gray,’ 1 Feb. 1868, and on 26 Nov. 1868 a serio-comic drama by the same author, entitled ‘The Loving Cup.’ Other burlesques were afterwards introduced, but they were not very successful.

On 3 March 1870 ‘Black-eyed Susan’ was revived, and played for the four hundred and twenty-first time. The last night of Miss Oliver's lesseeship was 30 April 1870, when the burlesque was given for the four-hundred-and-ninetieth time. After this period she was seldom seen on the stage. She was a very pleasing actress and singer, and a general favourite with the public. She led an unblemished life, and gave liberal aid to the aged and unfortunate members of her profession. She died at 5 Grove End Road, St. John's Wood, London, on 20 Dec. 1880. She married by license at the registry office, Marylebone, on 26 Dec. 1876, William Charles Phillips, auctioneer, aged 31, son of William Phillips, auctioneer, of Bond Street, London.

[Blanchard's Life, 1891, i. 143, ii. 513, 719; Players, 1860, i. 97–8, with portrait; Era, 1 Jan. 1881, p. 8; Theatre, 1 Feb. 1881, p. 127; Townshend's Handbook of 1868, 1869, pp. 364–5.]

G. C. B.