Person - Madame Pura

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ANNIE HELEN PURA (1894 - 1982)

Of Russian heritage, "Madame" Pura ran Sydney's Latin Café in the Royal Arcade, a licensed restaurant popular with homosexuals, actors, poets and bohemians such as Christopher Brennan and George Finey, although male patrons were asked to wear a tie. Big in build and personality, she embraced her regular customers.

Annie Helen Landau married Leon Pura (born in the Russian Caucasus in 1892) in London in 1912. Two years later they arrived in Sydney where Leon, following his father's trade, set up business as a tailor in the Royal Arcade.

Leon's parents and seven other siblings also migrated to Sydney. First to arrive, in 1910 via NZ, was Lazarus, born in the Russian Caucasus in 1888. A tailor, he applied for naturalisation in 1914, and in 1918 was called to give evidence in a case against police who had suits made at wholesale prices. Known as Las and a member of the Crows Nest branch of the CPA and of interest to ASIO, he died in 1949 in a snowstorm on Cradle Mountain Tasmania. Alice Pura was the wife of Leon's youngest brother Samuel (1899-1974).

Leon tried several times to block Annie's applications for a passport and the couple split in 1928 after which he went to live in Brisbane. He claimed to be unable to pay maintenance. They did not divorce until 1945.

Madame Pura died on 12 March 1982, survived by her daughter Pearl Josephine and son Colin Geoffrey.

Annie Helen Pura has an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography and Press cuttings on Helen Pura are held by the National Library of Australia.



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