This brunette burlesque beauty - "pretty, and as plump as a gooseberry" - was a transatlantic artist in the 1870s and 1880s. A comic singer, she played featured roles in travesties of "Robinson Crusoe," "Vulcan," and "Babes in the Woods," often for the Colville Opera Burlesque Company. Known for her pants roles, she impressed persons more for her shape than her skill. In 1878 a candid critic wrote, "her limbs are her fortune, but as an actress she does not amount to a great deal. Venuses seldom do on stage."
Since physical graces decline with age, Merville's span on the stage amounted at most to a decade. She was particularly celebrated for her part in "Rice's Surprise Party" (1880) that toured the continent to acclaim.
NOTES: "Waverly's," Daily Inter Ocean Chicago (Apr 6, 1878). David S. Shields/ALS