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For people who love, use and manage archives

Archives Outside - For people who love, use and manage archives

Did you watch #Underbelly #Razor last night? Check out some real life mugshots of the razor gangs

In our collection at State Records NSW we have gaol photograph description books which include a mugshot of the prisoner plus a list of their convictions. We’ve gathered together mugshots of some real life Underbelly: Razor characters below. Do they look like their TV counterparts?




« Check out more on our Tilly Devine Gallery »
Tilly Devine & the Razor Gang Wars, 1927-31

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Category: General
  • Kimberly O'Sullivan says:

    Yes, glued to Underbelly Razor last night! I have been waiting for someone to grab Larry Writer’s ‘Razor’, surely one of the great couldn’t-put-it-down books, and turn it into a screenplay. I have always had a soft spot for Tilly Devine and was really interested in her portrayal in this series.

    But what particularly struck me was something I have always wondered about Nellie Cameron. After reading what a sensational ‘stunner’ she was in Writer’s book, her beauty rocketing her to the top of sex industry (where she reportedly commanded top dollars) I had a look at the fabulous SR gaol photo books and found….a very ordinary looking young woman.

    I know in these photos she was probably tired, or had been up all night working and/or doing coke, but peering at the photos I just couldn’t see the beauty that supposedly was the source of her power – as a sex worker and as a woman with a string of devoted male suitors.

    This isn’t to take anything away from Nellie, she is an absolutely fascinating young woman who made extraordinarily racy choices in life and was a true ‘wild child’. But a great and extraordinary beauty? I can’t see it. What do other people think?

    Now Dulcie Markham is another story. I can see why she is called ‘Pretty Dulcie’ – she is very beautiful. A classic 1930s blonde bombshell. Does anyone know if she is going to appear in the series? There hasn’t been any promo about her at all. She was active in the same time as Nellie Cameron, they must have crossed paths.

    I am interested in her for many reasons, but work-wise it is because she spent the last couple of decades of her life living in Bondi. She actually died in a house fire in Moore Street in 1976.

    August 22, 2011 at 2:18 pm
  • Colin Rowley says:

    I missed the show which is a nuisance. I noticed that Nellie and Tilly shared the same stats. Same height, religion, hair and eye colour. Nellie at 19 years, looked very old for her age.

    August 22, 2011 at 7:24 pm
  • Debra Leigo says:

    Loved the first episode! Tilly Devine’s character appears younger and more glamorous than her mug shot fabulous casting and use of archives :)

    August 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm
  • Pinal says:

    I missed the show as well. But looking forward to next episode.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:12 am
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    Anthea has added a mugshot of Kate Leigh to the digital gallery that was taken in 1932 . It’s quite a contrast!

    @Kimberley O’Sullivan It’s quite rare to see mugshots where the subjects look wonderful so this may be part of it as well. Having heard the tales of the razor gangs for so long looking at the mugshots was a bit odd for me as they didn’t match what I had imagined.

    @Colin Rowley Welcome and thanks for the comment! I also found it interesting that Tilly and Nellie are roughly 5 years apart in age.

    @Debra Leigo You should take a look at the mugshot of Kate Leigh that I linked above!!

    @Pinal Hope you enjoy the next one.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm
  • Lyn Gray says:

    I’m loving the series and even though there has been alot of hoo ha over the songs played it’s irrelevant when they were written. I agree that the mug shots of Nellie Cameron show a plain girl and I would be surprised if she were much better done up but then the photos are old and it’s hard to tell. I’ve seen photos of Kate Leigh where she actually looked quite human and some where she was repulsive. Anyway it’s a very interesting series

    October 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm
  • Ron Rooney says:

    Hi. I knew Kate Leigh when I was a child. I have never seen nor read anything about her son. He son was my mates dad. I knew Kate as your typical grandmother. She used to give us bags of fruit to take to St Perers School to give to our classmates. Why no mention of her son. ( he may have been adopted)

    October 24, 2011 at 8:48 pm
  • Anthea Brown says:

    @Lyn Gray – I imagine the mugshots in our collection are the least flattering images of both Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh!

    @Ron Rooney – ah, someone who met Kate Leigh! We have had some other stories from people who knew people who knew her. I’m not sure about the son, does he feature in the TV series?

    Thanks for your comments

    October 26, 2011 at 10:24 am