Valli Valli, born Valli Knust (11 February 1882 – 4 November 1927), was a musical comedy actress and silent film performer born in Berlin, Germany. She was descended from an old English family and lived most of her life in England. Her brother was a captain in the Royal Fusiliers, who fought for the British in France in World War I. Her sisters Lulu (1887–1964) and Ida were both actresses, who used the stage names Lulu Valli and Ida Valli. Her brother-in-law, Philip Curtiss (Ida's husband), wrote Mummers in Mufti in 1921. She also had a brother named Cyril Knust.
Early years and stage work
Valli was educated in London and Paris. As a twelve-year-old, she made her first stage appearance in Gentle Ivy (1894) at Terry's Theatre in London. She demonstrated her theatrical skill in Berlin in 1895 with a successful run in the musical comedy Morocco Bound. She returned to London's Drury Lane Theatre, performing the role of the dancing doll in a pantomime version of Cinderella the following Christmas.
A strikingly beautiful woman, Valli played mostly in England thereafter, appearing in The Queen of Hearts, Purple Road and The Duke's Motto, among other pieces. She toured the United States a number of times. Her first American tour was in the operetta Veronique in 1905, where she played the part of Sophie. In London in 1907, when she played Polly Love in a revival of The Christian at the Lyceum Theatre. She appeared in 1908 in the London musical Kitty Grey. This was followed the next autumn by an appearance in the long-running American version of The Dollar Princess (1909). Valli had the role of Alice Cowder. In 1916, she participated in George M. Cohan's The Cohan Revue. Her last New York City performance was in Miss Millions in 1919 at the Punch and Judy Theatre.
Films and later years
Valli made four films in the years 1915 and 1916. One of these is The Turmoil, an adaptation of a Booth Tarkington novel. Valli's character is Mary Vertrees, a lady with an aristocratic bearing. Her other screen credits are for appearances as Mary Page in The High Road (1915), Beth Coventry in The Woman Pays (1915), Marian Delmar in Her Debt of Honor (1916). In 1917, she married Louis Dreyfus, head of the music publishing house Harms, Day and Hunter and later a theatrical producer.
Valli died at her home in Hampstead, London, in 1927 at the age of 45, survived by her husband.
- National Film Gallery
- Profile at Stage Beauty site
- Philip Curtiss (1922). Mummers in Mufti. Century Co.
- Cyril married Dorothy Love, and they named their daughter Valli Knust (born on 4 April 1930 in London) after her aunt. On 8 June 1961, this niece married Prince Vsevolod Ivanovich of Russia. See C. Arnold McNaughton, The Book of Kings: A Royal Genealogy, 3 vols. (London, U.K.: Garnstone Press, 1973), vol. 1, p. 317
- Gillan, Don. "The Christian", Stage Beauty, accessed October 24, 2013
- Time Magazine death notice
- Valli Valli at the Internet Broadway Database
- Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Valli Valli, Starred In The Turmoil, January 15, 1916, Page 10.
- New York Times, Valli Valli, Star Of Operettas, Dies, November 5, 1927, Page 19.