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Dan Leno (1860–1904) was a leading English music hall comedian and musical theatre actor during the late Victorian era. He was perhaps best known, aside from his music hall act, for his dame roles in the annual pantomimes that were popular at London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane from 1888 to 1904. As a youth, he was famous for his clog dancing, and in his teen years, he became the star of his family's act. As a solo artist, he became increasingly popular during the late 1880s and 1890s, when he was one of the highest-paid comedians in the world. He developed a music hall act of talking about life's mundane subjects, mixed with comic songs and surreal observations, and created a host of mostly working-class characters to illustrate his stories. In 1901, still at the peak of his career, he performed his "Huntsman" sketch for Edward VII at Sandringham. The monarch was so impressed that Leno became publicly known as "the king's jester". Leno continued to appear in musical comedies and his own music hall routines until 1902, although he suffered increasingly from alcoholism. This, together with his long association with dame and low comedy roles, prevented him from being taken seriously as a dramatic actor. He suffered a mental breakdown in early 1903 and was committed to a mental asylum, but was discharged later that year. After one more show, his health declined, and he died aged 43. (more...)

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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Today's featured article/June 21, 2012, that was deleted or is being discussed for deletion, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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