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Lily Elsie (8 April 1886 – 16 December 1962) ) was a popular English actress and singer during the Edwardian era, best known for her starring role in the hit London premiere of Franz Lehár's operetta The Merry Widow. Elsie was born Elsie Hodder at Armley, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. Her mother, Charlotte Elizabeth Hodder (1864–1922), was a dress-maker who operated a lodging-house. She married William Thomas Cotton, a theatre worker, in 1891, and Elsie became Elsie Cotton. The family lived in Manchester. Elsie was also the niece of Wilfred Cotton, who married actress Ada Reeve.