Open main menu
Benjamin John Fuller and family, 1913
Ardenbraught, the Fuller home in Point Piper
Sir Benjamin John Fuller posing with the Fuller-Gonsalez Grand Opera Company at the arrival of the company in Sydney in march 1928

Sir Benjamin John "Ben" Fuller (20 March 1875 – 10 March 1952) was an English-born Australian theatrical entrepreneur.

BiographyEdit

Fuller was born in London to compositor John Fuller and Harriett, née Jones. From December 1884 to February 1885 young Ben appeared in a juvenile production of The Pirates of Penzance at the Savoy Theatre; two years later he was a member of Montague Robey's Midget Minstrels and later joined Warwick Gray's Juvenile Opera Company. His father, also involved in the theatre, migrated to Australia in 1889. Ben followed him after touring England briefly and eventually joined his father in Adelaide. He had also learned to play the piano and the double bass by ear. In 1894, having been joined by younger brother John, the Fullers moved to Auckland, where the elder John set up waxworks and lantern shows with Ben as comedian. The family left Ben in charge in Dunedin and returned to Melbourne, but they soon returned after his success.[1]

On 6 October 1900 Ben Fuller married Jessie Elizabeth Burton, née McDonald, a widow; she bore him a son in 1902 but died in May 1903. He married again, to Elizabeth Mary Thomson on 8 November 1905. The Fullers continued to tour around New Zealand and extended their circuit to Australia, where they purchased James Brennan's vaudeville circuit (1912) and established the John Fuller & Sons Ltd (1914) operating the Ben. J. Fuller's big australasian vaudeville circuits (1915). Their first foray into operatic management was the tour of the popular Gonsalez Italian Grand Opera Company performing in Melbourne, Sydney and Wellington in the 1916/1917 seasons. The five Gonsalez brothers opened a new tour in Sydney on 10 march 1928, billed as the Fuller-Gonsalez Grand Opera Company.[2]

Ben based himself in Sydney, where he acquired the house Ardenbraught in the suburb of Point Piper. He volunteered for active service in World War I. After the war in 1920 he donated £1000 to Vernon Treatt so that he could take up his Rhodes scholarship and he subsequently established the Fuller Trust for overseas training in agriculture. Knighted by George VI in the King's 1921 Birthday Honours,[3] he contested Sydney in the 1922 state elections as an independent without success, and was a Nationalist candidate in the federal election of that year.[1]

In 1923 the Fullers partnered with Hugh J. Ward and focused on musical comedy. The family built the St James Theatre in Sydney, and survived the Depression by installing cinema apparatuses in their theatres. After the brothers divided their assets, Ben Fuller was governing director of Fullers' Theatres Ltd and attempted to establish an English language opera company without success. In partnership with Garnet Carroll from 1939, he jointly established the Carroll-Fuller Theatre Company Pty Ltd in 1946. He was chairman of the Howard Prison Reform League, vice-president of the Sydney Industrial Blind Institution, and president of the Australian Council for International Social Service.

From 1945 to 1947, he allowed his home Ardenbraught in Point Piper to be used by 280 officers and men from the Royal Netherlands Naval Air Force, who were operating from the flying boat base in Rose Bay. This fact is marked by a plaque outside the house. He died at St George's Hospital in London in 1952.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Rutledge, Martha (1981). "Fuller, Sir Benjamin John (Ben)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  2. ^ Currency companion to music and dance in Australia, Currency House Inc., 2003, p. 474fff and 445ff en ligne
  3. ^ "No. 13745". The Edinburgh Gazette. 23 September 1921. p. 1568.

External linksEdit