Beloved entertainer on both sides of Tasman

MATTHEW GRAY
Last updated 08:27 29/01/2013

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Actress and ballet dancer Amelia McGowan spent at least 30 years entertaining theatre goers on both sides of the Tasman.

She was often accompanied by her husband, Lachlan McGowan, a well-known comedian.

Both were also popular in the UK where they spent a short time performing in theatres at London, Manchester and Liverpool.

Their names frequently appeared in social pages and they involved themselves in many aspect of community life.

This meant Amelia's demise in Auckland on October 18, 1887 was mourned by many people who had come to regard her as a celebrity.

But her death was not unexpected.

The 56-year-old had become increasingly unwell since being diagnosed with diabetes four years earlier and had gradually retired from her stage work.

Fellow thespians staged a number of benefit shows to help the McGowans with their finances as their income dried up and Amelia's death was, in many ways, a relief to her nearest and dearest.

Amelia was born in London in 1831 and appears to have been raised in Hobart, Tasmania after her family emigrated to Australia.

She married the Scottish born Lachlan at Melbourne in 1859 and the pair toured Australasia with the same theatre company for the next 22 years until shifting to New Zealand and settling at Grey Street in Auckland.

Amelia, who is buried at Waikumete Cemetery, died at home shortly after 11pm and her death was reported in the next edition of the Auckland Star.

"Mrs McGowan was a lady of great kindness of heart and unblemished character and as an artiste she was possessed of great aptitude and talent," her obituary said.

Lachlan, whose real surname was Todd, returned to Australia and remarried.

He died in Sydney on November 21, 1899, aged 68.

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- Western Leader

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