b. Elsie Hodder, 8 April 1886, Armley, Leeds, Yorkshire, England, d. 16 December 1962, Willesden, London, England. When Elsie’s mother married Wilfred Cotton in 1891, the child took her stepfather’s name (he would later marry musical comedy star Ada Reeve). The family was then living in Salford, a district of Manchester. From childhood, she performed in public houses in Salford, singing under the name Little Elsie. In 1897 she played the role of Princess Mirza in a Manchester production of The Arabian Nights. Eventually, her singing and especially her striking good looks brought her to the attention of the theatrical community, not only in the north of England but also in London. After moving to the capital, she was in several productions with increasing success, including appearing in A Chinese Honeymoon (1901), which was the first local production to surpass 1, 000 performances.
From Encyclopedia of Popular Music in Oxford Reference.