Wikipedia: George Spelvin
George Spelvin, Georgette Spelvin, and Georgina Spelvin are traditional pseudonyms used in programs in American theater.
“Georgina Spelvin” has fallen out of general use since it was adopted as a screen name by pornographic actress Shelley Graham, who was credited by that name in The Devil in Miss Jones (1973) and her subsequent films.
Reasons for use
The reasons for the use of an alternate name vary. Actors who do not want to be credited, or whose names would otherwise appear twice because they are playing more than one role in a production, may adopt a pseudonym. Actors who are members of the trade unions (such as the Actors’ Equity Association) but are working under a non-union contract for a given production may use pseudonyms to avoid fines or other penalties by their union.
In some plays, this name has appeared in cast lists as the name of an actor (or actress) portraying a character who is mentioned in the dialogue but never turns up onstage: with the role credited to “George Spelvin”, the audience is not forewarned that the character never makes an entrance. The name is said to have first appeared on a cast list in 1886 in Karl the Peddler, a play by Charles A. Gardiner. The 1927 musical play Strike Up the Band by George S. Kaufman and George and Ira Gershwin features a character named George Spelvin. The name can also be used when one actor is playing what appear to be two characters, but is later revealed as being one person with two names or identities. Because of the pseudonym, the audience is not clued-in that the two seemingly separate characters are meant to be the same person. This is especially useful in murder mysteries.
The Language of Show Biz:
By Sherman L. Sergel
Chicago, IL: The Dramatic Publishing Company
The fictitious name used in a program that indicates either that an actor did not want his real name used or that an actor playing a particular role was not known at the time the program deadline rolled around. The name is also given to an actor who is doubling (playing two parts) in a play, a fact preferably concealed.
The origin of the fictitious actor is said to have been in “Karl the Peddler,” by Charles A. Gardner, in 1866. Since the “Spelcin” is reported to have given more than 10,000 performances, though, there have been variations on the first name. Less prominent, but having the same purpose, is Harry Shelby.
New York City • Music/Dance/Theatre/Film/Circus • Monday, December 05, 2022 • Permalink