Gladys Moncrieff

Gladys Lillian Moncrieff (1892-1976), soprano, was born on 13 April at Bundaberg, Queensland, youngest child of Amy Lambell (born Wall), professional singer, and Reginald Edward Moncrieff, pianist. She attended schools in several Queensland towns and made her stage debut in a school concert. She travelled with her family in North Queensland entertaining isolated audiences, billed as 'Little Gladys - the Australian Wonder Child'. After a period of work in Brisbane, she went to Sydney where she was auditioned in 1911 by Hugh Ward, managing director of J. C. Williamson Theatres, and given a contract. Madame Grace Miller gave her lessons. Gladys sang in the chorus, as understudy and as Josephine in HMS Pinafore, to acclaim. She toured with the company in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Her big success came in 1921 as Teresa in Maid of the Mountains, which opened at the Theatre Royal, Melbourne, and played there and elsewhere in Australia for two and a half years.

When Gladys married Thomas Henry Moore, from the chorus, at St James' Church, Sydney, on 20 May 1924 the crowds caused a traffic jam. They travelled through America to Europe, where Gladys was homesick. It was her first visit to Europe. She was already celebrated in Australia. She had a good voice for musical comedy, when musicals were attracting large audiences, and the image she presented to Australians was of being one of them. Her audiences adored her. Gladys went to London in 1926 where she had moderate success and some lessons from Anne Williams, an Australian teacher who had coached Melba's protégées. The recordings made in London sold well in Australia and she returned to a triumphal season, playing the title role in Rio Rita. She made more recordings in Australia which were also very popular, and she sang on radio. Seriously injured in a car accident in 1938, she did not perform again until 1942. She did a concert tour for the forces, gave charity performances and continued to perform. The Macquarie broadcasting network featured her in the 'Gladys Moncrieff Show'. Her long and extraordinarily successful career ended with a farewell tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1958-59, and a final performance on television in 1962. She was known affectionately throughout Australia as 'Our Glad'.

Her marriage had ended within a few years in agreement to separate. There were no children. Her companion for many years was Elsie Wilson. 'Glad' died on 8 February 1976 in a private hospital on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

Heather Radi