Madge Ellis grew up on the stage in proximity to stage royalty. As a girl she played child parts in Modjeska's company, as a young teen she crossed the continent in Lillian Russell's company when it toured "La Cigale." She followed this playing Cupid in Henderson's "Sinbad" tour. She signed as a soubrette with George Thatcher's San Francisco Company, and debuted as a principal in New York in Thatcher's "Africa."
At this juncture Ellis decided she wished to go into vaudeville, so split the bill with Carmencita (Corinne Kimball) and established a name at Proctor's and on the circuits as a singing actress. She accepted the invitation to perform in the London music halls and for much of the latter half of the 1890s performed in England where she became a star of the first magnitude. After 1897 her American billings frequently referred to her as "the great Madge Ellis." Her emotive range is suggested by publicists' characterization of her as "the handsome and dashing seriocomic." David S. Shields/ALS