Mansel V. Boyle

Mansel Vardaman G. Boyle was better known in the vaudeville circuit by his middle name "Vardaman", a female impersonator. According to California voter registration records, Mansel was living with gay silent film star J. Warren Kerrigan in Los Angeles from at least 1936 to 1938. He was never married and there is no record of him ever having a romantic relationship with a woman.


Early Life (1877-1903):

Mansel was born in Santa Cruz, California on January 17, 1877 to Arthur and Mary (Kennedy) Boyle - and most likely grew up in that city as well. Both of his parents were the children of Irish immigrants. His father, born in Massachusetts, was working as an "Expressman" in Santa Cruz in the 1880 Census but found work as a miner in Montana by 1896. Although some biographies assume that the family moved when Mansel was still a child - and suggest Butte, Montana as his hometown - his mothers obituary suggests that the family did not move to Butte until 1896, when he was 19 years old. That is also the year that the Boyle family first shows up in the Directories of that city, first living at 725 N. Main Street. Arthur and Mansel's brother Eugene were working as miners at Bell Mine while Mansel took the far less rustic trade of a clerk.

The family continued to live in Butte, Montana until 1903 and moved around several different locations in the city. They first moved in 1897 to 522 N. Fraklin in Butte, where they would live for two years. In 1898 Mansel began working as a stenographer for "F. J. Rowlands". In 1899 the family moved to 729 N. Main Alley and Mansel was working "C. H. Miller", still as a stenographer. In 1900 they moved yet again to 605 North Alaska St., but the family occupations had improved slightly. Arthur was working as a watchman and Mansel was a bartender, while his brother Eugene was still working as a miner. And finally in 1901 and 1902 the family took rooms at 25 W. Quartz. Mansel was book to working as a stenographer and bookkeeper during this time, for Montana Liquor Company. It was also during this time the Mansel began his interest in the theater, specifically with aspects in music and singing.

Career (1903-1925):

The first known performance for Mansel was at a New Year's party given by Charlotte and Katherine Best, sisters, at their home - 129 West Idaho, Butte. Later that year Charlotte directed a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera "The Gondoliers" and cast Mansel as Francesco. Katherine was also in the cast.

The family moved to Alameda, California in 1903, but the town of Butte had kept tabs on Mansel who began working in the Vaudeville circuit as one of the worlds "premiere" female impersonators. He returned to Butte in April and May of 1904 as a success, playing solo acts at the Grand Opera House were he had previously performed "The Gondoliers", as well as giving local private entertainments for friends. His aunt, Mrs. Kellogg, was still living in Butte during this time and he most likely stayed with her. His mother may have also accompanied him for the visit to see her sister and many friends that she had left behind. She had been an active member of the community for several years according to her obituary - dated September 29, 1905.

Mansel began touring as "Ardaman" across the country. Locations included Reno, Nevada; Logansport, Indiana and Newark, Ohio - and of course he often performed closer to home in Alameda and Oakland, California. By 1913 he began a world tour, setting sail from Honolulu, Hawaii and not returning to New York until August of 1914 aboard the SS St. Paul. By 1916 he was being build as "Ardaman - The Gay Deceiver" with a famous burlesque show called the Champagne Belles. He was the only female impersonator in the act which primarily included comics and female dancers.

By 1920 Mansel was 43 years old and no longer able to pull off his impersonations of a young beauty. The census record of that year shows him unemployed and living with his sister, Mary Manley, in Alameda - although he still gave "theater" as his general industry. According to his papers at the Princeton Archives, his last theatrical contract was written in 1925 and his career was over.

Later Years (1925-1945):

Although Mansel may not have been working in theater anymore, he had retained a large number of friends in the business - and they seemed to have lent him a helping hand when they could. In the 1930 Census he is listed in the household of Louis Sunlin, a theater owner, in Flint, Michigan. Sadly, he was working as their private cook. But by 1934 he is in Hollywood, first living with Milford Bailey at 863 S. Plymouth Blvd - and later (1936-1938) with the silent film star J. Warren Kerrigan, aka Jack, at Kerrigan's long time Hollywood home at 2307 N. Cahuenga. By this time Kerrigan's career had also long ended, and possibly his long time relationship with James Vincent. Jack and Mansel may have found friendship and understanding, at the very least, in each others company.

Mansel passed away on May 28, 1945 and was interred at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, California.



Newspaper Articles:

The Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana) - January 6, 1901

Misses Charlotte and Katherine Best tendered a New Year's party to a few of their friends at their residence, 129 West Idaho street. The evening's entertainment consisted of vocal solos by Flora Mueller-West, Charlotte Best and Mr. Boyle, and instrumental solos by Russell Ballard and A. Lewis. All present expressed themselves as spending a most enjoyable evening. Punch and other light refreshments were served. The invited guests were: Messrs. and Mesdames T. Carney, Collins, West, Misses Wina and Essie McKay, Verneau, Nettie Masel, Ella and Emma Dunstan, Edith Graves, Messrs. Russell Ballard, Mansel Boyle, Fred Kitto, A. Lewis, Arthur and Ben Perham, A. D. Mitchell, Charles Noonan and Ed Gay.

The Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana) - June 2, 1901

"The Gondoliers" Gilbert and Sullivan's tuneful opera, will be given at the Grand opera house next Wednesday and Thursday nights by local talent, with the following cast:

The Duke of Plaza Toro - Howard Jones
Luis, his attendant - Ivo Bogan
Don Alhambra del Beloro - Justin Butler
Marco Palmiri - William Argall
Giuseppe - Sam Mayer
Giaretta - Miss Charlotte Best
Tessa - Mrs. Annie Healy
Antonio - George Stephens
Francesco - Mansel Boyle
Giorgio - O. Nadeau
Duchess of Plaza Toro - Miss Mamie Finnigan
Casilla, her daughter - Miss Ida Scott
Flametta - Miss Mary Kitto
Vittoria - Miss Rose McDermott
Giulia - Mrs. F. J. Brule
Fenice - Christine Brebner
Inez, the king's foster mother - Mrs. Anna Porter
Chorus: R. Kallaway, P. Lynch, R. L. Klein, O. Nadeau, Mr. Girsch, Mrs. Wenzel, A. Perham, Bob Summers, Aug. Lenz, A. Lewis, Jack Hocking, H. F. Merkel, Dr. Donaldson, E. North, W. Ludke, W. H. Grimwell, D. W. Rogers, J. Mills, A. Muller, Gus Nickel, Dave Rundle, Jack Davis, M. Berger, M. Kruger, M. Nelson, W. Guedelhofer, H. T. Merkel, R. Dolmann, H. D. Murray, J. V. Marcott, J. Sullivan, Mrs. Main, Mrs. G. W. Logan, Mrs. G. A. Hamilton, Miss Edna Gillis, Miss Leane Finch, Mrs. M. H. Brown, Mrs. Ed Luxton, Miss Lucy Brenan, Mrs. F. J. Brule, Mrs. P. J. Tevlin, Mrs. T. S. Mitchell, Mrs. Donaldson, Misses Edna Spees, Sadie Pryor, Annie Thiermann, Julia Gindrup, Alice Langlois, Ella Driscoll, Katie Moran, Maude Maguire, M. J. Broughton, M. G. Rogers, Emma Hesse, Irene Dinnik, Geneva Smith, Lottie Glover, Anna Moran, Barbera Smith, Thresa Leaker, Stella O'Donnell, Elena McDonald, Nellie Castello, Juel Postello, Julia Shea, Mamie Healy, Flora Driscoll, Leonora Jones, Ida Smith, Elsie Goldmann, Regina Connel, Dorothy Supernant, Jennie Robinson, Juanita Glover, Cora Smith, Lottie Smith

"The Gondoliers" will be presented under the direction of Miss Charlotte Best, and it is not too much to promise that the production will be of a character that would be a credit to a company of professionals. The opera has been under rehearsal for a month and the company has reached a stage where the artistic success of the production is assured.

The Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana) - April 3, 1904

M. Vardaman, a Butte boy, who is playing the vaudeville circuit as a female impersonator, has been booked for an engagement at the Grand opera house and will open there Sunday night.

The Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana) - May 8, 1904

M. Vardaman, who is better known among his friends in Butte, where formerly and for a long time he was a resident, as Mansel Boyle, has won distinct success on the vaudeville stage. He is by all odds the cleverest female impersonator ever seen on the stage, and about the only one who plays the part without being ridiculous or offensive.

Mansel Boyle entertained the young girls who took part with him last year in the "White Mice" society production at a matinee party at the Grand yesterday.

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) - September 7, 1904


ALAMEDA, September 7 - On Saturday evening last a reception was tendered to Mansel Vardaman, the clever female impersonator, who is appearing at the Novelty theater in Oakland, this week, by his sister Mrs. George B. Manley. The affair took place at the Encinal Hotel, High street, and was most enjoyable throughout. Mr. Vardaman gave some of his delightful imitations, while songs were rendered by Mrs. George Manley, Miss Hislop, Miss Robertson, and Mr. Morgenstern.

A piano and violin solo by Miss Alice Manley and Frank Cleaves was highly applauded. Mrs. Anderson and Miss Gertrude Morgenstern also took part in the program. The rooms were beautifully decorated for the occasion with palms, ferns and flowers, and a delightful banquet was served, after which dancing was indulged in until a late hour. Many theatrical people were in attendance and the affair was a very folly one.

Among those present were the following: Misses Madeline Hislop, Gertrude Morgenstein, Elizabeth and Geneva Peters, Elsie and May Mulqueen, Celia Toaspern, Margaret Cleaves, Lolita Robertson, Gertrude Murphy, Anna Sullivan, Miss Ryan, May Deasie, May Havelin, Rilla Kellog, Alice Manley, Mansel Vardaman, Edgar Regan, A. Morgenstern, Wm. Finkc, W. Toaspern, Chas. Manley, Thos. Stanton, G. Blake, F. Cleaves, A. Berber, E. Kennedy, H. Gallagher, J. H. Kennedy, Mr. and Mrs. Kammerer, Mr. and Mrs. McGabe, Mr. and Mrs. Mulqueen, Mr. and Mrs. G. B. Manley, Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Anderson, Mrs. Morgenstern, Mrs. Toaspern, Mrs. Allen, Mrs. Manley, Mrs. Boyle, Mrs. Hansted, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Robertson.

Daily Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) - May 2, 1905

The bill at the Grand Theater is exceptionally good this week.
Vardaman, the female impersonator, is retained from last week and continues to confuse the audience

The Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana) - September 29, 1905


Mrs. Mary A. Boyle, who died in Alameda, Cal., Sept 22, numbered a wide circle of friends in Butte, where she had lived more than seven years, leaving Montana less than two years ago. She was highly esteemed by all who knew her and the news of her death will come to many as a shock. Mrs. Boyle was a prominent member of Butte circle, No. 155, Women of Woodcraft, and is mourned by the Misses May and Olive Kellogg, nieces, living in the city. She is also survived by three children, Mrs. G. B. Manley and Eugene and Mansel V. Boyle, all of Alameda, and a sister, Mrs. H. Kellogg, who lately left Butte to live in Seattle. The funeral took place last Monday and was largely attended. Interment was made in St. Mary's cemetery in the California city.

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) - November 14, 1905


One of the strongest bills ever seen in vaudeville in this city is now being presented at the Novelty Theater. Every act introduces experienced artists, some of whom are playing a return engagement. A most fascinating number is that of the Royal Hawaiian quintet, in which they introduce instrumental and vocal numbers of their native airs and songs. They have been seen here before, but it is an act that one never tires of. Their dreamy songs and instrumental numbers are most attractive and never fall to win the plaudits of the audience. Another great act of the high class order is that of Carlisle and Baker, the colored aristocrats, in which they are seen and heard to great advantage in vocal selections of their own origin and in piano duets that are most artistic. Last night they fairly took the house by storm and received encore after encore. The wonderful Vardaman, styled as the world's pre-eminent female impersonator, is far and away the best ever seen in Oakland in this particular line. He has the looks, manner and actions of a woman, together with a swell wardrobe and a grand singing voice. If he was not billed on the program as a female impersonator, not one in a hundred would guess that he was a man, so good is his makeup. One of the most marvelous juggling acts ever seen in this city is that of "The Great Nello" assisted by Mme. Nello…..

The Newark Advocate (Newark, Ohio) - December 12, 1912

At the Orpheum: Vardaman, an impersonator, in classic poses makes many changes in costumes and sings many good songs and tells many jokes. Vardaman is booked at a high salary and has a real act.

The Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana) - October 14, 1913


Eugene Boyle, aged 45, for several years a boss at the Bell mine, died Sunday at Alameda, Cal., where he had been for a year in search of health. His father left Butte Saturday, but did not arrive before the son's death. Death occurred at the home of a sister, Mrs. George V. Manley. Mr. Boyle was born in California. He had mined in Butte [illegible] years. He is survived by his father, wife, Mrs. Mary Boyle, who was with him at the time of death; a sister and a brother, Mansel, who is in Australia. Burial will be in Alameda.

Logansport Journal-Tribune (Logansport, Indiana) - February 6, 1916

Champagne Belles

The Champagne Belles Burlesquers who are to appear at the Nelson on Thursday, February 10 is one of the largest and best of the shows now playing the Independent Association houses. They carry with them Hazel Hestop, queen of the prima donnas, conceded by press and public to be a real queen of burlesque. The comedy work of Irish Ed Lucan and Dutch Walter Van is a sure cure for the blues. The ballads of Golden voiced George Atkinson has endeared him to the theatergoing public in years past and his first entrance today has the same effect as the sunshine on spring flowers. Besides one of the funniest burlesques ever written, featuring their beauty chorus in many new and novel song and dance numbers they have an extra good feature olio bill. Vardaman "The Gay Deceiver" will deceive you as he has deceived thousands before you. Cecelia Fortman, known as the Aerial Venus, does her work as no other has ever been able to imitate. And the finish of the big evening's entertainment, when Princess Pauline does her version of the Salome, Spring and Flower dances. The seats for this attraction will be on sale Tuesday.

Census Records:

Santa Cruz City, Santa Cruz, California - June 11, 1880

Surname Given Name Age Relation Occupation Born Father Born Mother Born
Boyle Arthur 45 head Expressman Mass Ireland Ireland
Boyle Mamie 27 wife . Conn Ireland Ireland
Boyle Mary J. 14 daughter at School Cal Mass Conn
Boyle Eugene 12 son at School Cal Mass Conn
Boyle Mansel 3 son . Cal Mass Conn
Boyle M. O. 74 father Expressman Ireland Ireland Ireland

605 North Alaska, Butte, Silver Bow, Montana - June 24, 1900

Surname Given Name Relation Birthday Born Father Born Mother Born Occupation
Boyle Arthur E. Head April 8, 1841 Massachusetts Ireland Ireland watchman
Boyle Mary A. wife Dec 13, 1856 Connecticut Ireland Ireland .
Boyle A. E. son June 15, 1873 California Massachusetts Connecticut miner
Boyle Mansel V. son Jan 17, 1877 California Massachusetts Connecticut bartender

1301 High St., Alameda, Alameda, California - January 8, 1920

Surname Given Name Relation Age Status Born Father Born Mother Born Occupation Industry
Manley George B. Head 53 married California Ohio Austria Inspector US Customs
Manley Mary J. wife 52 married California Massachusetts Connecticut none .
Manley Charles F. brother 31 single California Ohio Austria Merchant Confectionary Store
Boyle Mansel V. brother-in-law 40 single California Massachusetts Connecticut theatrical unemployed
Kennedy Edgar J. cousin-in-law 27 single Nevada Nevada Nevada Flanger? Iron Works
Boyle Arthur father-in-law 76 widow Massachusetts Ireland Ireland none .

6212 Branch Road - Flint, Genesee, Michigan - May 9, 1930

Surname Given Name Relation Age Status Born Father Born Mother Born Occupation Industry
Sunlin Louis Head 72 married Ohio Alsace-Lorraine Germany Proprietor Theatre
Sunlin Hazel P. wife 42 married Michigan Michigan New Hampshire . .
Peters Lillian B. mother-in-law 72 widow New Hampshire New Hampshire New Hampshire . .
Vardaman Mansel Cook 42 single California Massachusetts Connecticut Cook Private Family

Ship Manifests:

S. S. St. Paul - Aug 22-Aug 30, 1914 from Liverpool to New York City


Vardaman, Mansel - age 37, born Jan 17, 1877 in Santa Cruz, Cali. - res 1301 High St., Alameda, Cal

WWI Draft Registration Card:

Name: Mansel Vardaman Boyle
Address: 1301 High St.
Age: 41 - born Jan 17, 1877
Occupation: Theatrical
Next of kin: Arthur Boyle, 1301 High St., Alameda
Description: Height-medium; Build-stout; Blue eyes; Brown hair
Signed: Sept 12, 1918

California Voter Registration Records:

Los Angeles, California

1934: Boyle, Mansel V. - 863 S. Plymouth blvd., Dem
1934: Bailey, Milford L. - 863 S. Plymouth blvd., Rep

1936: Boyle, Mansel V. - 2307 N. Cahuenga blvd, theatrical, Dem
1936: Kerrigan, George Warren - 2307 Cahuenga ave., retired, Dem
1936: Vincent, James - 2307 Cahuenga ave., agent, Dem

1938: Boyle, Mansel V. - 2307 N. Cahuenga blvd., theatrical, Dem
1938: Kerrigan, George Warren - 2307 N. Cahuenga av, retired, Dem

City Directories:

Butte, Montana - 1896

Boyle, Mansel V G - clk, bds 725 N. Main
Boyle, Arthur E - miner, res 725 N. Main
Boyle, Eugene - miner, bds 725 N. Main

Butte, Montana - 1897

Boyle, Mansel V G - clk, b 522 Franklin
Boyle, Arthur - miner, r 522 N. Franklin
Boyle, A. Eugene - miner, b 522 N Franklin

Butte, Montana - 1898

Boyle, Mansel V G - stenogr F J Rowlands, b 527 N. Franklin
Boyle, Arthur E - miner Bell Mine, r 522 N. Franklin

Butte, Montana - 1899

Boyle, Mansel V G - stenogr C H Miller, b 729 N. Main Alley
Boyle, Arthur - miner, r 729 N. Main Alley
Boyle, Eugene - miner, b 729 N Main Alley

Butte, Montana - 1901

Boyle, Mansel V - stenogr Montana Liquor Co, rms 25 W Quartz
Boyle, Arthur - eng Bell Mine, rms 25 W Quartz
Boyle, Eugene - miner, rms 25 W. Quartz
Boyle, John - miner, rms 25 W. Quartz

Butte, Montana - 1902

Boyle, Mansel V - bookkeeper Montana Liquor Co, rms 25 W Quartz
Boyle, Arthur - miner Bell Mine, rms 25 W Quartz
Boyle, Eugene - miner High Ore Drain Tunnel, rms 25 W Quartz

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