Following the premiere at the British Music Hall Society’s 50th anniversary celebrations, you’ll be able to click here to view a restoration of a rare surviving copy of ‘Dessert at Dan Leno’s House’, a Mutoscope ‘film’ featuring the most popular comedian and pantomime star of the late 1800s.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Leno did not survive into the age of film. His genius faded from consciousness leaving almost nothing to attract the attention of documentary makers.
Yet Leno influenced many who followed, including a young Charles Chaplin, who is often compared to Dan Leno in style and appearance, and he was idolised by Stan Laurel, who, it’s said, borrowed his smile.
The film is taken from a set of Mutoscope cards once owned by Dan Leno’s family, and quite possibly by Leno himself.
Thomas Everchild of Studio1919 has digitally restored the film from a box of loose cards collected by John Henty, who owns a working Mutoscope.
It’s recorded that Dan Leno made thirteen little moving films, and the aim of the Dan Leno Project is to raise awareness that there may be more historic moving pictures overlooked in private or museum collections as loose mutoscope cards and produce a documentary, recalling and recording his story, using the words of his contemporaries.
If you’d like to know more, or wish to help with information or resources, please contact the project producers.