Hymack was the stage name of Quinton McPherson, a London-born actor turned quick-change artist who was active on the variety stage from 1906 to 1925. He was billed as ‘Mr Hymack, the Chameleon Comedian’. Quick-change artists of the time usually had to make their costume changes out of sight of the audience, but Hymack was different. He remained visible to the audience throughout the act, while costumes and props appeared and disappeared around him. He can be seen as a pioneer of today’s style of quick-change act.
Hymack was a solo performer but his act depended on his wife, Eleanor McPherson. She worked backstage, setting up and operating the complex costumes and props that the act required. Hymack’s quick-change career came to an abrupt end in 1925 when she died on tour in New Zealand. His act was put up for sale and Lewis Davenport bought it. Nowadays few Hymack items remain in the Davenport Collection. Fortunately this suit has survived.
To say that the workings of the suit are complicated is an understatement. We have to thank design historian Karen Nicholson for using our material in her research, furthering our knowledge of how the suit functioned in Hymack’s act.