Many successful actresses started from humble beginnings, but few can be compared to Bradford’s first "Countess", Gertie Millar.

Born in Manningham to a mill-worker family, Gertie became the most photographed musical actress of the early 1900s, appearing before Royalty, socialising with the likes of Noel Coward and PG Wodehouse, and eventually joining the aristocracy.

Reader Geoff Dowling takes up Gertie's story: "She was born Gertrude Millar on February 21, 1879. Her father, John, was a mill worker and her mother, Elizabeth, a worsted-stuff worker and dressmaker. Gertie was an accomplished singer and dancer and started performing at an early age in local music halls. She began her professional career aged 13 in a pantomime in Manchester."

Adds Geoff: "She moved to London and attracted the attention of theatre producers, and was soon earning rave notices for her performances. In 1900 she was playing lead roles in popular musicals. She met composer Lionel Monkton in 1901 while appearing in one of his shows, and one of the most successful musical partnerships of the time was born. Making hits of his music established Gertie as a star, and the couple married.

"In 1908 Gertie took America by storm woth a season on Broadway starring in The Girls from Gottenberg. Returning to London, Monkton wrote his biggest successes and she became the most photographed and sought after of the operatic stars. These were her ‘golden years’; by 1912 she was one of the world's biggest musical stars.

"Over the years she attracted 'stage door Johnnies' including British and Continental aristocrats, and she formed a liaison with the Second Earl of Dudley, but Monkton wouldn't agree to a divorce.

"With the advent of the First World War in 1914, the world was changing; people's tastes were changing, they were attracted to the new cinema palaces for entertainment. Lionel was in poor health and after a number of flops he ceased composing. Gertie toured with shows in the provinces for a number of seasons, before retiring from the stage in 1918. Her final appearance was at her home town theatre, the Bradford Alhambra.

"Lionel Monkton died in 1924 and two months later Gertie married William Humble Ward, the 2nd Earl of Dudley, and became Gertrude, Countess of Dudley. She was 44 and William 57, and she retired completely from the world of theatre. "The couple lived mostly on his estate in Le Tourque, France, for the next few years and the Duke died on July 1, 1932. Gertie returned to England and made her home in Chiddington, Surrey, until her death on April 25, 1952. She was 73."

Concludes Geoff: "Gertie Millar was the working class girl from Manningham, who grew up to be one of the most loved and photographed women of the Edwardian era and became Lady Dudley."