The stars Drury Lane's Harlequinade
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London
Black and white photograph
Whimsical Walker is pictured here in 1899 in the ‘Harlequinade’ of the pantomime The Forty Thieves. The Harlequinade came after the main pantomime, and featured characters derived from Commedia dell’arte. Here, we see Carl Waller (on the right) as Pantaloon, and Tom Cusden (in the centre) as Harlequin, with Whimsical Walker as Clown. Thomas Dawson Walker started performing as a comic tumbler from the age of nine, when he ran away from home to escape a cruel stepmother. He worked in a variety of small street shows before joining Pablo Fanque’s circus where he began to train in earnest, learning to ride, tumble, and perform on the trapeze. Apparently Fanque decided Walker should become a clown because he was so ugly. By the time this picture was taken he was already famous and had worked for some of the most prestigious circuses in the world.