HOLT, Joseph Bland (1853-1942)

HOLT, Joseph Bland (1853-1942)
always known as Bland Holt
comedian and producer
was the son of Clarence Holt, a tragedian of ability, well-known in Australia during the middle years of the nineteenth century. He was born at Norwich, England, on 24 March 1853, came to Australia with his father in 1857, and made his first appearance on the stage when he was six years old. He was educated at the Church of England grammar school, Brighton, Victoria, and at the Otago boys' high school, New Zealand. Returning to England when 14 years old he made acting his profession, and had experience in England, the United States, and New Zealand, before establishing himself in Australia about the year 1877. His first production was New Babylon at the Victoria theatre, Sydney, and for 30 years he continued to produce the principal melodramas of the period. Most of the time of his companies was divided between the Lyceum theatre, Sydney, and the Theatre Royal, Melbourne. Nothing was too realistic to be attempted; in one play there was a hunting scene with horses dogs and a stag; in another several horses finished a race across the stage; in another a circus ring was realistically presented with the regular acts being done. Holt himself had been an excellent clown in pantomime, and he played comedy parts in melodrama with great ability. He was prudent and successful in management and retired in 1909, living at Kew, a Melbourne suburb, for part of the year, and in summer spending his time at his seaside home at Sorrento. There he would entertain every year a party of veteran members of the profession. He died at Kew on 28 June 1942 in his ninetieth year. He married in 1887 Florence, daughter of William Curling Anderson, who survived him. He had no children.
Holt practically grew up in a theatre and knew exactly what suited his public. He personally supervised every detail of his productions, working early and late, and, if he considered that a play needed revision or bringing up to date, would write fresh dialogue for it himself. He was kind and generous, and had the respect and affection of both the members of his own profession and of the public.
Cyclopedia of Victoria, 1903; The Argus and The Age, Melbourne, 30 June 1942; The Herald, Melbourne, 29 June 1942.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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