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Janis, Elsie (16 March 1889–26 February 1956), variety artist and writer, was born Elsie Jane Bierbower in Marion, Ohio, the daughter of John Eleazer Bierbower, a railway worker, and Jane Elizabeth Cockrell, a real estate agent. At the age of four she was a natural mimic, adept at picking up the mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of visitors to her parents’ home. Though she was considered a dreadful child by the proper ladies of Marion, “Little Elsie” soon became a popular addition at church gatherings, dinner parties, and club affairs. Her formal career began with a local stock company, where she made her debut as Cain in ...

Article

Loftus, Cissie (22 October 1876–12 July 1943), actress and mimic, was born Marie Cecilia Loftus Brown in Glasgow, Scotland, the daughter of Ben Brown, a music hall comedian, and Marie Loftus, a music hall singer. Her childhood was spent at boarding schools and backstage at the theaters where her mother played. She left the Convent of the Holy Child, Blackpool, England, in 1892 to become her mother’s dressing room maid....