Albert Onesime Britannicus Gwathveoyd Louis Chevalier (21 March 1861 - 10 July 1923) was an English comedian and actor.
Albert Chevalier was born in the Royal Crescent, in London's Notting Hill. The son of a French master at Kensington Grammar School, and a Welsh mother, he showed a keen interest in acting and performed The September Gale in a private family performance, when he was seven. His brother Charles Ingle, who served as his manager and occasional partner, is known for composing music hall classics such as "My Old Dutch". In 1869, Albert premièred in public as Mark Anthony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, in an amateur performance at the local Cornwall Hall. He joined another local amateur group, the Roscius Dramatic Club at the age of fourteen, adopting the stage name, Albert Knight.
In 1877, at sixteen, he was engaged as an actor in the company of Mr. and Mrs. Squire Bancroft in London, and for fourteen years played serious acting parts at the Court Theatre and elsewhere.
In 1891, however, he began a successful music hall career as a singer of coster songs of his own invention, a new type in which he had an immediate success, both in England and America. He subsequently organised an entertainment of his own, with sketches and songs, with which he went on tour, establishing a wide popularity as an original artist in his special line.
Chevalier appeared in the 1909 production of "The Sins of Society" at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, playing the role of James Hogg.
Chevalier performed several sentimental songs in his act; the most popular of these was My Old Dutch, about an old man's long happy marriage to his wife. The song's title is based on Cockney rhyming slang: in this case, "Dutch" is a shortening of the phrase "Duchess of Fife" which rhymes with "wife". The singer's "old Dutch" is therefore his spouse. Chevalier also starred in a film entitled My Old Dutch. His own old Dutch, was his wife, Florrie, the daughter of music hall star George Champagne Charlie Leybourne.
Another enduring song of Chevalier's is "Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road" (1891). Shirley Temple sings this in the 1939 film A Little Princess.
Chevalier died on 10 July 1923. He is buried with his son and father in law George Leybourne at Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington, London.
Before I Forget Albert Chevalier (1902)
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license