Figure 1.--This photograph shows Maurice's brother Martyn palying the part of the ugly step sister in his mother's production of Cinderlla.

Biography: Maurice Pollock (1885-1918)

Maurice Pollock was an English child actor and played mainly female roles. Most of his early plays were put on by his Mother, who was an accomplished foreign actress. Maurice was the first boy to play Little Lord Fauntleroy on the English stage--previous peformances cast girls in the part of Dedric Erol. Maurice played Cedric ar the age of 14 in 1898, one of the older boys to play the part.



Maurice’s mother Melanie was born in 1850 in Graz, Austria. Her family was also musically inclined and she attended numerous operas and theatre performances as a child. She was an accomplished pianist, and sang in four languages, and (being Austrian, one assumes) learned to play the zither. She met Oscar Pollack at a concert in England; they courted and eventually married in 1880. They took up residence in a large home in a wealthy section of Birmingham, where Melanie became active in the arts. Madame Pollock was an accomplished actress. She formed a children’s drama group which became the toast of Birmingham. She produced plays with the children. I'm not sure for whom the performances were given.


His father, Oscar Pollack, emigrated from Prussia to England in 1853 to join his brother, Maurice, who had emigrated earlier and had become a council member and eventually Mayor of Birmingham, England. Oscar, an accomplished pianist, was very musically inclined, and attainted a wide reputation as a piano teacher. In Birmingham, he was a well-known figure and active in the musical culture of the city, eventually becoming music critic for the Birmingham Mail in the 1890s, continuing until his death in 1927. He was eventually appointed German master at the famous Repton Preparatory School.


Maurice was the youngest of three boys. His older brothers were Martyn and Montegue.


Maurice Pollack was born in Birmingham, England, during 1885. Maiurice and his brothers grew up in a wealthy section of Birmingham. His Mother apparetly wanted at least one girl and was apparently disappointed when Maurice was born after already having two boys. Maurice, as the youngest of three sons was the apple of his mother’s eye; it was well- known that Melanie had wanted a girl.

Figure 2.--This photograph shows Maurice playing the part of the doll's fairy.

Childhood Clothes

Maurices mother was disappointed about not having a daughter. She may have kept Maurice in curls and frocks for a little longer than usual, but in fact I do not have much information or photographs about how he was dressed as a boy other than on stage. Nor do we have much informstion on how his brothers were dressed. One report suggests that his mother evidently dressed Maurice not only for feminine roles on stage but also at their home. As the accompanying pictures suggest, Maurice was not only photographed on stage but also in the back garden of his home in various girlish poses and costumes, none of which appeared in his mother’s plays. One photograph shows him with a doll in his arms, apparently seeming to scold her, and another shows him demurely holding a bouquet of flowers. These home photographs all seem to deal with costumes rather than his ordinary clothes. It is interesting that Maurice had shorthair as a child and fit in well with other boys. One observer in his biography stated that “in his home life, either at school or home me, he is one of the most boyish of boys you ever met.” [Farrer]


We have no information on Maurice's education. We do know that he was sent to school and no educated at home. We have no details, however, on the types of schools he attended.

Madame Pollocks Plays

I have few details on the plays Madame Pollock produced. I do know that the productions included: Sleeping Beauty (1994), Cinderella (1895?), Margurette of Monte Carlo (1897), and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1898). She seems to have selected fairytales and other stories that would appeal to children. Except for Maurice and his brothers, the characters were mostly played by girls. HBC does not one other boy--Raphael Cerito. Notably Madame Pollock recruited a foreign boy instead of an English boy.

Child Actor

Maurice's brothers preceeded him in his mother's plays. Maurice's older brothers proceeded him on the stage and when he joined them they mostly played male roles--or ugly women like one of the ugly step-sisters in Cinderella.

Maurice Begins Acting

Maurice was eventually recruited in the family business--acting. He did not act at an early age. This may in part be due to the fact that there were not a lot of parts for very young children. Maurice displayed early on a special talent for music and acting. As Pollack’s biographer observes, “Madame Pollack seems to have found in Maurice, although he was not a girl, a remarkable aptitude for dancing and mimicry, especially of female style and movement. In these circumstances she taught and encouraged Marie's to develop these qualities to such an extent that he was able to play female roles in dramatic reductions that she wrote for children.” Maurice, in his first performance at 9 years of age, sang Isabella in character and performed a skirt dance. The critics were amazed at both his singing and dancing ability - sort of a male Shirley Temple. He may have attended a dancing academy or been taught by his Mother. Apparently there were several of these establishments in London at the time.

Maurice's Roles

There are no photographs of Maurice until he started his acting career at 9 in the role of Sleeping Beauty. At 9, off stage, he looks and is dressed like an ordinary boy of the period. He played mainly girl's roles until he was 15. His performance as Cedric in Little Lord Fauntleroy may have been his last role in fancy boys' or girl clothes. I have not information at this time as to what he thought of his boyhood acting career. Mauruce at 15 switched to male roles. Apparently what ever he though about the roles his mother assigned him--he was no adverse to acting. Interestingly he impersonated on the stage an actress named Vesta Telley whose stock in trade was impersonating boys. So here is Maurice, a boy, impersonating a girl who is impersonating a boy. The British are a bit difficult to understand sometimes. The British audiences apparently found this quite humorous.

Figure 3.--This photograph shows Maurice playing the part of Cinderella.


Madame Pollock was quite active and produced a substantial number of dramatic performances. Information is available on several of Madame Pollock's productions, including the roles played by Maurice and his brothers. Maurice, from the age of 3 years, took part in his mother’s tableaux. The productions were billed as Madame Pollock's Juvenile Operas. Some of the most important were "Cinderella", "The Doll's Fairy", "Sleeping Beauty", "The Star of the East", "Costuime Recital", and "Little Lord Fauntleroy". The information we have begins with productions done beginning in 1895 when Maurice was about 10 years of age. We are not sure what part Maurice played in earlier productions.

Maurice and His Mother

Maurice’s relationship with his mother has been the object of a good deal of speculation. It has been suggested that their relationship was quite close, overly intimate, and that she lived much of her life through his participation in dramas which she wrote for him featuring her young son as a feminine child impersonator. She was obviously very involved with Maurice, much more so than with his older brothers, and appears to have received a certain narcissistic pleasure from his fame and reputation. And as noted above, her biographer indicates that she longed for a girl as her third child.

Adult Life

Maurice married in 1917 and had one daughter. Unfortunately World War I broke out in 1914. Hufe battles were soon raging in Belgium and France in which men were killed in numbers never previously experienced. Maurice Pollock was one of them. His acting career was cut short when he was killed in France during 1918 while serving with the army. This is an all to common note at the end of these biographical essays on English boys. Presumably the same is true for the French and Germans, although I have been able tio find less opertinent bibliographical information there. One gets a feeling for just what a terrible tragedy World War I was for Western Europe.

Other Fauntleroy Actors

Several other boys in the late 19th and early 20th century played Cedric Erol in the emensely popular productions of Little Lord Fauntleroy. One of those boys was future silent film star, Buster Keaton. Often girls, however, were for a variety of reasons were chosen to play the part. A photograph of Maurice at 14 years playing Little Lord Fauntleroy is available on this page.


Farrer, Peter. The Life of Maurice Pollack (1885-1918), a Birmingham Actor (Karn Publications: Garston, Liverpool, 1998). USBN 0951238574


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