the intriguing bill-matter we have no intelligence of this troupe.
ABBOTT, EDWARD B.
The Boy Wonder
The Man with the
ACES, THE THREE
and Expert Footologists
We presume that
footologists were dancers, though the reference may be to the style of
act popularised by Professor RISLEY qv. The Four Aces were flying
trapezists, and did not, we think, have any connection. One of
The Four Aces was George Windenny (1864-1931).
and Quick Change Artiste
See JOHN CRONOW,
GEORGE F. MOORE
Mr Adkin's dummy,
which appeared with the artiste on-stage in a real car, was named Sammy.
<>ALI, HADJI - see
The Wizard of the
A conjuring cowboy
must certainly be adjudged a novelty, especially as this artiste
included hypnotism in his displays.
Listed under BRANSBY
In an advertisement
in the (London) Entr'acte for 20 January 1906 this artiste
quotes divers laudatory Press reviews of her Dickens impersonations
which included, remarkably, Quilp.
ALLEN, JACK (fl
Canada's Voice of
Born London but
emigrated at the age of three with his family to Toronto.
Returned c1922 as reeds player with friend HAL SWAIN. Played and
sang with HENRY HALL, JACK PAYNE, Alfredo, Sid Bright (brother of
GERALDO), and Sydney Lipton. By 1932 was Britain's
most popular crooner. Had brief partnership with Kitty
Masters as The Radio Sweethearts, then formed his
own groups - the Les Allen Melody Four and Les Allen and his
Canadian Bachelors. His biggest recording hit
was Little Man You've Had a Busy Day. Returned to Canada
The English Marie
It's No Trouble. Not to be confused with Mdlle ALMA (1868-1908) The
(1869-1934) was an American burlesque and vaudeville comedienne whose
homely features led to her being billed as The Ugly Duckling.
See ThE Famous Craggs
Maxene (c1916-95), Patty (1920- )
Jack's The Joy
Nae Bother at A'
See DAN LENO
See ST GEORGE HUSSEY
Though this artiste
may have been a charming songstress, French accents were not her strong
The Champion Lady
Heavy-Weight Lifter of the World
Woman in the World
The Unhappy Medium
Family name: Fitts
Nightingales see JENNY LIND, also THE PERMANES.
AVON COMEDY FOUR,
Joe Smith and
(see SMITH & DALE) plus Jack Coleman and Will Lester who
were later replaced by Harry Goodwin (1880-1942) and Irving
Kaufman. Other sketches in this troupe's repertoire included The
Professor's Birthday and Ginsberg's Stump Speech.
The Female Leotard
This artiste claimed
to be the first female trapezist.
See JULES LEOTARD
McLauchlan (1922-99) ran this snake-dancing act with her husband Hugh
Duff McLauchlan (1920-2006) everywhere from Bombay to Paris until
into retirement by an accident.
The Girl with the
Million Dollar Legs
Several ladies have
laid claim to such valuable underpinnings, but we would suggest by her
dates that this entry was perhaps the first.
See PHYLLIS DIXEY,
Family name: Bella
Becker (Mrs Maurice Abrahams)
The Nippy Comedian
BAKER, JOE (d2001)
and Sole Autocratrix of the Kentish Drama
Mrs Baker `built ten
theatres at her own expense, and always made a profit in a career of
over fifty years'.
Having for two and a
half inglorious years been a bank clerk ourself we cannot see the
appeal of such a billing, nor are we prepared to give Mr Baldwin the
benefit of the doubt.
(`BUNNIE') (d.10 February 2000)
Toured for many
one of The Three Redheads having started as an acrobatic dancer in
cabaret at The Trocadero in the heart of London's West End while still
in her teens. For a time was Betty of WILSON, KEPPEL &
The Dandy Randy
A 1900s acrobat may
well have been as dandy and daring as all get out, but we doubt whether
much randiness was in evidence.
The Pocket Dan
See DAN LENO
An Indian who can
Sing and Speak the King's English
Seen on a 1912 poster
The Simplicity of
a Mancunian Productions 1936 film entitled Dodging the Dole.
life he became a turf accountant. Further information about this
entry and his family may be found in the Spring 2006 edition of The Call Boy (vol 43 no 1), the
official journal of the British Music Hall Society.
See DAN YOUNG
Mr Barker was with
and also offered his gentle bumbling art at the WINDMILL THEATRE.
Mrs Barker was the songstress Pearl Hackney (b1917). This
humorist `never cared for vaudeville', finding it too vulgar.
we found his comedy too anaemic though in its day it suited audiences
well enough, especially BBC radio audiences. In a variety
bill at the Prince of Wales Mr Barker wrote `nor after the first
few days did I find the companionship of my fellow mummers in that
dressing-room particularly congenial'. It must have been
positively frightful for an old Whitgiftian to have to dress in
such low company. Mr Barker left £229,657.
Mr Barker was not
included in the original editions because, alas, as he told us himself,
he never really appeared in variety and so never acquired any
significant bill-matter. He did vouchsafe us a delicious story,
however, which we relate here for the first time:
The scene is BBC's Television Centre centre where a recording of Frost
on Sunday starring David Frost, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett is
about to take place. This particular edition of the show includes
a spoof This Is Your Life, in which Eamon Andrews, then the
presenter, has agreed to take part. The darkly-kept secret,
however, is that the sketch is a cover for a genuineThis Is Your Life,
with Corbett as the unwitting subject. But on the night of the
recording Corbett comes running into Barker's dressing-room.
`There are Thames TV vans outside!' he says. `It's This Is
Your Life!' Thinking very fast Barker responds `No, Ronnie,
it can't be. If it was me - you'd know, and if it was you, I'd
know.' And Corbett swallowed it...
Better k.a. the film
director Cy Endfield
The Man with the
For other usages of
'iron' see ALOIS PETERS whose entry mentions Siegmund Breitbart, Ian
Colquhoun, Professor Kelly, Leroni, Proctorie, and Zulima.
Another Man with the Iron Jaw was D'Atalie (fl1870s).
A Londoner, Bruce
Baron's first appearance was with Sir Seymour Hicks and Ellaline
Terriss in Bluebell in Fairyland. Originally a straight
actor who "turned comedian during the war", he mounted many
pantomimes and summer seasons after the hostilities under his own
management. Still later he dwindled into an agent.
The Glorious Girl
on the Golden Column
This acrobat's name
we have also seen spelled as Bartenelli.
We spotted this
bill-matter on a poster for the Granville Theatre of Varieties, Walham
Green, London, for w/c September 2nd 1940 (a year almost to the day
after the outbreak of World War II), playing twice nightly at 6.30pm
and 8.45pm. Despite the time of year the Granville was offering
SPECIAL SUMMER PRICES (including Tax), and Fully Licensed Bars at
Popular Prices. The most expensive stall on a Saturday night was
(9p) and the cheapest seat in the gallery 5d (2p). The
headliner was GEORGE ROBEY and the show was presented by Blanche
Littler (the second Mrs Robey).
The Premier Banjoist and Mandolinist of South Africa
In 1929 Miss Baylis was appointed Companion of Honour for her legendary
popularisation of Shakespeare at the Old Vic
and of opera and ballet at Sadler's Wells. Her younger sister
was billed as The Celebrated Juvenile Whistler.
First UK appearance 1803. Celebrated explorer of Egyptian
pyramids and royal tombs. Died Gato.
The Great Little
Not to be confused
with the Shakespearean actor-manager Sir Frank Benson (1858-1939).
HER GIRLS' ORCHESTRA/BAND) (fl1940-82)
Ivy Benson (1913-93)
played piano, clarinet, and above all alto sax. In 1975 due to
Sex Discrimination Act changed band's name to Ivy Benson & her
BENYON, THE GREAT
Edgar Benyon's own
entry in The Performer - Who's Who in Variety (1950) states
that his magical revue was entitled "Bam-Boo-Lalem" which seems to be a
misprint; if so then his family name, which some sources give as
Beynon, may also be incorrectly spelled.
The Old Maestro
Fanned himself with
fiddle. Went solo when partner, accordionist Phil Baker
(1896-1963), went into navy. SOPHIE TUCKER suggested he become
band leader. See JACK BENNY.
Sleep 'n Eat
BEY, ALI (1905-75)
Lightning - Startling as Thunder
We knew David
in the 1950s when he was a regular and welcome visitor to the
backstage bar at Peterborough where we were appearing with
Mr Harry Hanson's Famous Court Players at the Empire & Theatre
Royal, a curious back-to-back arrangement of Music Hall and
playhouse. This magician's career was wrecked by a stage-manager
who dropped the safety-curtain on him as he was taking a bow.
The Coon from
See G. H. ELLIOTT
The Cherry Blonde
BOB & RAY
Bob Elliott (b1923) and Ray Goulding (1922-90). Partners from
1946 till Ray's death. Renowned for surreal two-handed routines,
e.g. Who's on First? and The Slow Talkers of America.
The Laugh Salesman
There's a Reason
See LEN WILLIAMS
The Emperor of
Leading member of
the music publishing family
BORSTAL BOYS, THE
Trying To Be Good
(b. 19 June 1898)
At one time worked
with his brother as the Boston Bros Two Baked Beans. At
another time was area manager for Harper's automatic cigarette
machines. Went to US 1949.
The Brummell of
The Loveable Lush
An American artiste
famous for his drunk act.
BROWNIE BOYS, THE
This team offered
vocals, instrumentals, dances, and jokes. The personnel included
Ken Ashton of THE GRIMALDIS. Another Brownie Boy was ELTON HAYES.
BRUCE, BETTY (d.
Just for Fun
The Tallest Pianist in the World
The fratulein was allegedly 7ft 11ins tall, and demonstrated her art at
the Coliseum in London sometime in
See THE CO-OPTIMISTS
The Bad Boy from
BURNS & ALLEN
(1896-1996) and his wife Gracie Allen (c1906-64) appeared with this
at the London Palladium for the w/c 29 September 1930. Lamb
Chops was the title of their best-known routine.
There Aren't Many
BURTON, WARD J.
The Prince of
Husband & wife
team. K. E. (1912-79) and Adele MacNaghten (1914-2004). Mr
Cantor a.k.a. Terry 'Toby Jug' Cantor.
(d 11 Feb 1964)
Funnily Natural -
The Ace of
Family name: Richard
Charlotte Gilleno (Mrs James Fabian)
Colossus of Mystery
The Ambling Alp
Boxer of the World 1933-4. Later became a film actor of sorts and
Also toured a sketch
billed The Fool of the Force
Packet of Variety
Dancer and female
impersonator. Born Alfred Sydney Carpenter in Sydney, Australia. In 1950
known to be working with partner as Tiki & Del England's Crazy
Dancers or Those Crazy Dancers
Jack of all
a.k.a. Will Murray's Casey's Court. Later k.a. The Casey Circus
(prop. Harry Cardle).
Personnel included Billy Baggs, Harry Beasley, CHARLES CHAPLIN, Stan
Laurel, Harry Seltzer (Selser)
The Musical Nut
See DR CROCK
should be Something Glad, Something Sad. One of the good ladies' edifying, moralistic sketches
was entitled The Gypsy's Warning - nothing to do with the
Weston & Lee song
of the same name.
The Most Talked
with his father W. J. Churchill (1842-93) as Churchill & Peter
Negro Comedians. In the late 19th century "Negro" on bills
did not usually indicate a
black artiste but a white performer made-up.
See COBB & EAST
The Gibson Girl
exiguous performing talents were more than compensated for by her
wondrous hour-glass figure. The original model for society
cartoonist Charles Dana Gibson's (1867-1944) idealisations of American
womanhood was his wife Irene Langhorne, one of whose sisters was Nancy
Astor, the first woman to take
her seat in the House of Commons. Another, Nora, was the mother
of Joyce Grenfell.
King of the
Cowdery, a pioneer of powered flight in Britain (1908), should not be
confused with William `Buffalo Bill' Cody. Orig k.a. Captain Cody.
COHANS, THE FOUR
Money to Burn
Jerry Cohan (1848-1917), his wife Helen (Nellie) Costigan (1854-1928),
and their children Josephine (Josie) (1876-1916) - who married
film director Fred Niblo (1874-1948) - and George M(ichael) (1878-1942).
Conkey's One To
The Mayor of
Voltigeur and Flying Mercury
Voltigeur is French
for vaulter or tumbler; Mercury is the Roman counterpart of the
Greek god Hermes, the messenger.
COOPER, JOHN W.
(fl late 19th cent.)
Napoleon of Ventriloquism
See GEORGE BARNARDO
EAGLE, THE GREAT EVERHART, NAUGHTON & GOLD also NAPOLEON.
The first of a very
short list of traditional-style pierrot shows to play the West End, The
Co-Optimists were probably the finest of the genre. The company
opened at the Royalty in June 1921; they disbanded 1927 but were
revived 1929; in 1930 they were back in the West End at the London
Hippodrome. Members included Hermione Baddeley (1906-86), Doris
Bentley (d. 25 February 1944), WEBSTER BOOTH (see ANNE ZIEGLER &),
DAVY BURNABY, Wolseley Charles ( d. 28 November 1962) pianist, Billy
Mayerl (1902-59) pianist, Betty Chester (1895-1943), Gilbert Childs (d.
24 September 1931), Laddie Cliff (1891-1937) and his wife Phyllis
Monkman (1892-1976), Anita Elson (1898-1985), Melville Gideon
(1884-1933) principal pianist, Olive Groves, H. B. Hedley (1890-1931)
song-writer, Stanley Holloway (1890-1982), Cicely James, Elsa
MacFarlane, Austin Melford (1884-1971), Elsie Randolph (1903-83), Cyril
Ritchard (1897-1977), and Babs Valerie (Mrs BILLY MERSON).
volume published in 1926 by Herbert Jenkins was entitled The Comic
History of The Co-Optimists; the authors were Messrs Ashley Sterne
(1876-1939) and Archie de Bear (1888-1970), and while these two
gentlemen produced a moderately amusing book the title is a complete
misnomer for there is not one jot or tittle of genuine information
within its pages. There are however excellent photographic
illustrations of many of the above-named artistes.
See FOL De ROLS
BERT (& CO) (1868-1938)
A Lamb on Wall St
After winning a
sexual discrimination claim in 1997 Ms Couch became the first
woman to be granted a boxing licence by the BBBC. The first
professional female boxing match in the United Kingdom was Couch versus
the eighteen-year-old Yugoslavian Simone Lukic, staged before a 1,500
crowd on Wednesday 25 November 1998 at Caesar's Palace in Streatham,
South London. This entry won by a technical knock-out in the
second round and scooped £1,400 - considerably less than her
discrimination award of £15,000.
This bill-matter was
also displayed by The Donna Sisters and by a gentleman called Maiberts.
COX TWINS, THE
Aka Cox Twins &
Pauline. Frank and Fred began their careers with STEFFANI'S
SONGSTERS. Married respectively Estelle and Pauline Miles, also
identical twins. Estelle d. 30 Nov 1984. See RAF GANG SHOWS.
In the programme for
the 1938 Royal Variety Performance Vic and Joe Crastonian are billed as
Almost a Musical Act.
CRAZY GANG, THE
Inspired by the
free-wheeling plotless revues pioneered by NERVO & KNOX with EDDIE
GRAY in the early 1920s, George Black presented his first Crazy Week at
the London Palladium in November 1931, starring NERVO & KNOX,
NAUGHTON & GOLD, and CARYLL & MUNDY. Crazy Week became
Crazy Month when FLANAGAN & ALLEN joined the team in June
1932. The 1933 show ran for fourteen weeks and from then until
the Blitz of 1940
the Crazy Gang remained in residence. The first production to
boast a title was the 1934 edition Life Begins at Oxford Circus.
CARYLL & MUNDY left shortly after FLANAGAN & ALLEN came on
board, and prior contractual obligations kept the other regulars out of
the shows from time to time. One celebrated temporary replacement
for Bud Flanagan was Stanley Holloway (1890-1982). During
Hitler's War the Gang split
into its component parts, performing for ENSA all over Europe, with
EDDIE GRAY roaming as far as the Middle East. The first post-War
Crazy Gang show was presented by Jack Hylton in 1947 and entitled Together
Again. The Gang now consisted of
Bud Flanagan (Chesney Allen had retired for health reasons), NERVO
& KNOX and NAUGHTON & GOLD, and the venue was the Victoria
Palace, to be their home until the final production which closed
in May 1962.
EDDIE GRAY rejoined the team in 1951, still the lowest paid member;
NERVO & KNOX were always the highest paid, as their top billing
indicated. Jimmy Gold's health caused him to miss most of the
final two productions, though he did put in an appearance on the
emotional last night of the last show. We saw these veteran
comics in 1959 and were amazed at their energy and enthusiasm,
after a lifetime as laughter-makers, for the job in hand.
SYD (fl c1910)
The Lonely Comic
A Syd Crossley
appeared in the 1928 Frank Capra silent comedy movie That Certain
Thing, though whether this was The Lonely Comic we do not
know. We simply record the names.
The Fool of the
keen Freemason. His father, T. C. Cruikshank, was a singing
clown who usually appeared as a woman on tall stilts. Alfred was
married to La Mio, a beauteous poseuse.
Don Juan of Song
Don Juan Tenorio,
the legendary hero of divers plays, stories and operas, wreaked his
wiles upon the women of 14th century Seville, since when his name has
been synonymous with heartless libertinism.
The Electric Sand
Displayed his art at
the Hippodrome, Colchester, in March 1906.
Brown, Bright and
The Modern Lion
Mr Cunliffe was a
dapper singer of bright and breezy songs some seventy of which are
listed in Sing Us One of the Old Songs. `Brown' meant
alert. A 'lion comique' (the term originated in the 1860s) was a male
performer of larger-than-life size personality, good looks and panache.
See CHRIS WORTMAN
CURRIE, FINLAY &
A Chip off the
Much of Miss
Cunningham's background remains cloudy when not contradictory.
That she was immortalised in poetry by Arthur Symons and on canvas by
Walter Sickert is, however, irrefutable.
Mr Currie's dates
The Favorite of
Little Ray of
Dagmar was "a lady
of immense size and vivacity". She was a popular Principal Boy in
pantomime at Drury Lane, and surely one of the most strapping.
Going Mad -
One of the very
of his generation, Mr Dainty's comic dancing was particularly
admired. Now that he is gone that style of expert physical comedy
is a lost
art. The artiste left £273,575 but we would rather he were
still with us.
Matchless with Boomerangs
Queen of the
Black & White
The Crichtons of
was a semi-legendary 16th century Scottish scholar and swordsman.
The singing and dancing D'Auban troupe included John (1841-1922)
and his sisters Emma (d1910) and Marietta. Further family
details are given in Sing Us One of the Old Songs.
Entertainers and Entertainer of Princes
The Little Lady
with the Big Voice
Family name: Nettie
Original singer of I
Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now. Survived by her husband who
must have been even more aged.
De GRAY, MILDRED
Original Barefoot Dancer
So was this artiste
billed in the (London) Entr'acte for 9 March 1906
The Girl in the Uniform
a leading theatrical impresario.
First Lady of
in New York in 1920 but was challenged in court to the title of First
Lady of Radio by one Kate Smith. Miss DeLeath
triumphed. A generously-proportioned lady of great charm
and with a crooning style perfectly suited to the poor reception of
early commercial broadcasting, this artiste made hundreds of
She also composed many songs, the best-remembered being I
Wasn't Lying When I Said I Loved You. Another claimant to
being the first crooner was Marion Harris,
died New York 24 April 1944.
De LEON, MILLIE
The Girl in
(FIVE) (est 1884)
(1862-1944), his wife Annie Wilson (c1867-1919) and his brothers Percy
and Harry (d. 24 Jan 1936), later joined by Letitia Minnie Winterton
(d. 12 May 1911) and her sister (Nellie?). From 1911-14 The Four
Delevines included Albert Darnley jnr (Albert Dennis Darnley McCarthy,
b1898) whose mother was Emily Delevanti. Other "Delevines" were
Harry Cooper and Percy Wilkinson (d. 24 March 1938).
Family name: Dorothy
Thirlwall (Mrs F. C. Timbs)
De LYLE, WYN
Britain's Premier Lady Ventriloquist
Born Winifred Fox in Sheffield. Also publicised herself as Society
Conjuror and Paper Manipulation.
At one time with the
Roy Fox band
An ombromaneur is
demonstrates ombromanie, or shadowgraphy. Mr Devant was also a
magician and an origami specialist.
See THEO BAMBERG
The First Lady of
Our very own Margi
Clark once said "I don't do stand-up. I lie on me back wi' me
DILLON, ERNIE (fl
On the Bounce
Enough to make a
A Whirlwind of Wit
Cyril Dowler (b1906)
and Kay White
DOWNEY & DAYE
A Whirl, A Twirl
and a Girl
John S. Downey
(Mitchell) (b1909) and Lynda Daye (b1920)
Awarded Croix de
Guerre for bravery in World War I. A concert party and revue
stalwart, this entry appeared with The Ideals (1922), La Petit Cabaret
(1922), The Love Doctor (1925, The Punch Bowl (1927), Full Speed
(1929), Hooradio (1932), Jubilee Revels (1935), Rates and Taxes (1936),
Hot Punch (1940). Mr Doyle was also a celebrated pantomime
Drawing the Laughs
This act performed
with a partner, name not known. Mr Dudley is still an active
magician and puppeteer.
& LEE, RICKI (fl1960s-70s)
Ronnie (1932-81) and
wife Ricki (1938-86) Dukes. The act included sons Don (drummer)
and Perry (guitarist), also Ricki's mother Violet (pianist).
Although often referred to in the Press as The King and Queen of
Clubland the Dukes' use of this soubriquet as bill-matter is
& COMPANY (1896-1991)
& His Apprentices
Music Hall's Ace
The Pocket Pianist
A Rhapsody in Silk
Was this the Duval
1947 was billing himself as The Opti-Mystic?
DYER, BOB (d.
DYNAMOS, THE FIVE
The Last of the
But Homer &
Jethro outlived him by six and twenty-four years respectively, and
HARRY LESTER by twenty-eight years.
Cycling Football Beauties
Was this act aka THE
FIVE SENSATIONAL OXFORDS qv?
The Boy Magician
Once broke both legs
attempting a LITTLE TICH routine.
EATOCK, BIG BILL
You'd Be Surprised
Mr Eckstein, though
primarily celebrated as a balladeer, was no slouch on the eighty-eights.
The Man in Red
Writer and performer of monologues including The Lion And Albert,
Marksman Sam, and The Runcorn Ferry.
The Royal Jester
See CASEY'S COURT,
EIGHT LANCASHIRE LADS
EDWARDS, C. E.
The Happy Tramp
See NAT M. WILLS
We once appeared
with this entry as a Russian bodyguard in Whack O!, live on
BBCtv from the Shepherd's Bush Empire. This robust brass-playing
comedian, the only Oxford University Master of Arts on the Halls, left
nearly a quarter of a million pounds.
STREAKS OF DANCE (fl1920s)
LADS, THE (fl1896-c1930)
Established by John
William Jackson snr. Original troupe: John William jr
(d1952), his brothers Herbert, Alfred and Stephen with their sister
Rosie. Making up the eight were George Cawley with his twin
brothers Jim and Billy, one of whom fell ill and was replaced by (Sir)
CHARLES CHAPLIN. Later Lads were JACK EDGE and Tommy Handley
Aristocrat of Jazz
ELLIOTT, CHIC(K )
Dixie's Red Hot
Born Violet Wooll in
Sydney, Australia. Also appeared in black face billed as The
ELLIS, DON (d.
Mr Lillian Russell
In her heyday
(1861-1922) was the undisputed queen of American musical comedy.
See MAUD HOBSON
Fun on the Ocean
Prince of the Wide Boys
A wide boy was a shady wheeler-dealer, a
spiv. This entry's kipper ties and fast patter made
him a favourite comic on radio and the variety stage in the late
1940s, invariably finishing his turn with a rapid incomprehensible
jumble of words out of which came, 'I dunno what I'm taling about.
Play the music - open the cage...!'
The Little Girl
with the Big Voice
The First Lady of the Organ
Queen of the
Ena Rosina Baga played for cine-variety and provided extempore
accompaniments to silent movies. Her sister, Florence de Jong, also
achieved considerable distinction in these fields.
Family name: John
See Mr HYMACK, DAN
EVANS, DIXIE LEE
Monroe of Burlesque
In similar vein was
Eva Mudge The Military Girl.
KATE (fl 1870s-80s)
The Pet of Park
From The Era
26 October 1851 (p10):
'London Pavilion - A
novel feature in the performance was that of Mr Falaha, the Wooden
Legged Dancer, as he is called, which, considering his age, weight, and
loss of limb, was a feat of grace and agility...This gentleman has
other claims on public notice than his theatrical performances. A
son of the Army, he was born in the 93rd Regiment of Highlanders, with
which he afterwards served. In the 40th Regiment
of Foot he passed the meridian of his life, and was, in 1827,
the principal means, by personal exertion, in taking the notorious
M'Cabe, the bushranger, in Macquarie Plains, Van Dieman's
Dancers in the
billed as Laughter in the Roar. See DAVE & JOE
The (E)Rector of
After his wife's
1939 Peter jnr worked with a new partner as Peter & Joan Fannan,
appearing as flower-sellers with Peter in drag. His father Peter
Fannan snr (1870-1961) worked an act with his brother James Foreman
k.a. Percy & Harold The Two Millionaires. Foreman
& Fannan were also billed as The Smells (Swells?) of
Mayfair. Other siblings on the Halls were FRANK SEELEY and
Fred Hallam who originally worked together as Heeley & Hallam.
In 1906 this artiste
was advertised as `Touring' but not `At Liberty' until 1910.
An earlier singing
collier was John Rhodes (d. 1 August 1850)
The Pride of
Also worked a
tumbling act with husband Raymond WHITELEY (b1915) as The Sensational
Brazilian Nut in Captivity
The Gargoyle with Legs
The Frozen Nightmare
From the age of 28 Mr Feldman suffered from hyperthyroidism, a
condition which accounted for his alarmingly goggle-eyed look.
A Prize Packet of
FINGLASS, TOM E.
In 1942 appeared in
the film biog of Leslie Stuart You Will Remember as EUGENE
For other "Coons"
So billed at the
Hippodrome, Southampton, for the w/c 12 March 1934. See THE
Is That You?
Your Very Own
The Tart with a
glamorous dancer, in despair at losing her drawing power, shot herself
in Sir Alfred Butt's office in Drury Lane.
(fl late 19th century)
FOL De ROLS, THE
The most venerable
concert party of them all was founded by George Royle at the Floral
Hall, Scarborough, in 1911 and taken over in 1919 by Greatrex Newman
(1893-1984), a prolific writer of songs and sketches. It was
Newman who made the Fols a national institution, with companies in
Eastbourne, Hastings, Llandudno, and Sandown. In 1951 they
reached the West End at the St Martin's Theatre and in 1960 the company
had the honour of being included in the Royal Variety Show. That
same year Newman handed over to Hugh Charles (co-writer of There'll
Always be an England and We'll Meet Again) who ran the shows
for a further fourteen years. The Fols' last performance was at
the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, at the end of the 1975 summer season
- an unparalleled run of sixty-four years.
The muster-roll of performers who started their careers with the Fols
includes DON ARROL, ARTHUR ASKEY, ERIC BARKER, LESLIE CROWTHER, CYRIL
FLETCHER, Bill Fraser (1908-87), Pearl Hackney (Mrs ERIC BARKER), Harry
Hanson, Doris Hare (1906-2000), GEORGE LACY, TOM MENNARD, Richard
Murdoch (1907-90), DAVID NIXON, JACK TRIPP, JACK WARNER, Mona
Washbourne (1903-88), Dorothy Wayne, ELSIE & DORIS WATERS, Kathleen
West (1906-96) and Denny Willis (1920-95). With these last two
we worked in pantomime; we have to report that Miss West's
eccentricities as dame in Tom Thumb (see JIMMY
CLITHEROE) were not an undiluted success.
(c448-c380 BC, Greek comic dramatist and poet. See PHILIP ASTLEY
for other 'Fathers', also JOHN BROUGHAM.
FARREN - see PETER FANNAN
born. President of the British Magical Society 1919-21 and
1927-8. Specialised in illusions with watches and clocks.
Rene Strange, displayed identical bill-matter.
...and the Seven
Fun in the Foy
Slumwhere in New
Family name: Edwin
Fitzgerald. First appeared in vaudeville with his children 1913.
The First of
Foy and a Donkey)
Fun in a
Family troupe which
included Tom's wife Ernestine Matthews.
See TOM FOY
See THE FIVE FOYS
Britain's Wonder Boy Trumpeter
Forsook the trumpet to become a comic
The Most Popular
Woman Vaudeville Artiste
The Little Wonder
HARMONICA GANG, MORTON
You Won't Stop Laughing
Eight-handed act founded by Morton Fraser (Emmanuel Fish - 1905-82)
after World War II
and a stint in STARS IN BATTLEDRESS. Ran until the 1960s.
Personnel over the years
included Don Cameron, Ronnie Cresswell, Jim Garside, Ken Howell,
Michael Jackson, Stan Kaye, Dave King, Nat Lees, Peter March, Clem
Ratcliffe, Walter John (Tiny) Ross, Tony Rouse, Henry Samuels,
Harry Simms, and Johnny Stafford. Three others, Gordon Mills,
Don Paul, and Ronnie Wells formed their own act called The Viscounts.
The World's Worst
Member No 1 of
the Grand Order of Water Rats
The Champagne Girl
My Little Bag O'
Creator of the
Family name: Marie
A Man of Many
Also danced to such
titles as Fire and Lily.
Family name: Marie
The Sweet Singer
a.k.a. Karl Gardner
...and her All
Sweet Music and
a.k.a. Gloria Gaye
The Lady in
Mrs Gibson is the
in this archive whose memory is honoured by a public statue (in Durban,
The Human Harp
So billed at the
Canterbury, 1906 (see Era 26 May).
a.k.a. GEORGE MOZART
Cornet and Coach
(né Fox) (b1906) and Olive Webb (b1922)
24 June 1884)
The Perfect Fool
See ED WYNN
The Yiddish Shakespeare
GOLDIN, HORACE (1873-1939)
The King's Magician
The Peerless Illusionist
The Royal Illusionist
by MAX BYGRAVES. In 1949 Miss Golding married Captain Freddie
Squires (1918-55), brother of DOROTHY SQUIRES
Played in bands led
by BILLY COTTON, Roy Fox, and LEW STONE
It's Only Me
The Star Boarder
from Colney Hatch
Colney Hatch in
was celebrated for its lunatic asylum.
The Mad Russian
Vic Gordon (b1911)
The Droll Scamp
...and his novel
Leybourne, Vance, Robey, Tich, Lauder, Coborn, etc.
With Their Ropes
Husband & wife
team: Cecil (1903-71) and Lila (b1908), originally k.a. La-Rope &
Lady. From 1943 the act included their son (b1928) and was k.a.
EL GRANADAS & PETER; in 1949 they were joined by his wife Dorothy
GRANDE & MARS
Gary Grande (d. 13
August 1987) and David Mars
Queen of the
Orig. k.a. Mary Gray
The Ragtime King
` - whose
and style conquered America - causing overflowing Houses everywhere he
appeared. His thousand and one inflections of voice, his electric
mannerisms, the fascinating verve and swing of time and tune make each
song by him a living riot of tune and wit.
His recent success at the Palace Theatre was truly phenomenal.
' From advertisement in The Play Pictorial for
January/February 1913 (number 127.)
The Black Swan
The Royal Clown
with his wife as Dan Gregory & Lydia (née Maldavan).
Raymond Daniel Gregory was a son of Mdme GREGORY.
The Comedian who
Goes wherever He Goes
Silk Hat Harry
a.k.a. Ken Ashton (1911-99) and his wife Audrey (1917-99) (née
Vera Grimaldi). In 1954 Audrey was billed at Chessington Zoo,
Surrey, as The Queen of Versatility and Kenneth as The King
of the Clowns. Both were killed in a car crash in
See GROCK, BEBE
FOUR BROWNIE BOYS.
King of the
Family name: Karl
See THE GRIMALDIS,
GWYN, FRED (fl
The Clown Prince
See WYN CALVIN
The Amazing Regurgitator
See MAC NORTON. Also see
HAGUE, CHARLES (30 Jan 1896 - 5 Aug 1993)
Something New in Ventriloquism
entry spent nearly twenty-four years as a police officer before turning
pro. He flourished on the Halls 1944-c55.
HAIG & HAIG
Spirits of Fun
Brothers Tom and
Family name: Robert
HALL, GEORGE F.
The Yankee Story
This was his most
celebrated sketch prior to his legendary wartime radio series ITMA
("It's That Man Again" - a reference to one Adolf Hitler). The
sketch was written by Eric Blore, later to make a corner in snooty
butlers in Hollywood.
Borrah Minevitch's Harmonica Rascals. Founded by Minevitch
(1904?-55) in 1926. From 1939 led by Johnny Puleo (1907-83).
See LARRY ADLER,
RONALD CHESNEY, THE THREE MONARCHS
A Sweetheart of Song
For several years this entry was the companion of the comedian Leon
(& PARTNER) (fl1950s)
(b1907). Stan Laurel (1890-1965) and Oliver Hardy (1892-1957)
were the cinema's most popular comedy duo. Mr Harris impersonated
Mr Hardy and his partner, sometimes billed as Stan, essayed Mr Laurel.
There a Trick In
Mr Harris' dates are
HARRIS, JERRY (fl
Born to Impress
HARVEY BOYS, THE
Patterers and Dancers
Edward (d. 24 August
1906) and Frank? (d. 14 February 1942)
(d. 16 December 1945(?))
The King of
Spent many years
with Adeler & Sutton Pierrots.
MANNERS, ETHEL (fl1932-47)
Hot Dogs of Comedy
Will Hatton (d.
Ethel Manners (d. 1956)
See JOE YOUNG
Forty Minstrels -
Count 'Em! Forty!
Christopher Haverly (1837-1901) the troupe was also k.a. Haverly's
American United Mastodon Minstrels. Two members who came over to
Britain and stayed were R. G. KNOWLES and EUGENE STRATTON. In the
early 1880s Mr Haverly briefly ran Haverly's Coloured Minstrels, the
first of such
companies to feature actual black artistes.
Noted at the London
Hippodrome, Jan 1901
HAYES, EDMUND J.
The Wise Guy
Mr Hazard was a
A Bonnie Bough Of
Married to MICHAEL
HEART, JAN &
Two Hearts with a
Crazy Mixed-up Beat
a.k.a. Jan &
Kelly. These ladies were Helen Wilson and June Hunt, the latter
nowadays far better k.a. Jan Hunt.
The Gloom Chaser
Never a Dull
See FELICIEN TREWEY
The Two Original
(1907-95) and his younger brother John. Originally k.a. The Two
(& CO) (fl1940s-50s)
The Home Guards
who wouldn't Stand Down
HERMAN, THE GREAT
Not to be confused
with the next entry.
Sometimes styled The
Great Herrman or Professor Herrmann, this entry should not be confused
with The Professor Eugene Hermann or with the previous
entry. When Herr Herrmann died his widow Adelaide Herrmann
(1854-1932) took over the act, as did the relicts of Leopold Fregoli
(1867-1936) and CARL HERTZ and the daughter of Cingalee (see ROY
LESTER). Alexander Herrmann's uncle Professor Carl Herrmann
(1821-87) was also a magician, as was his nephew Leon Herrmann
See HOWARD THURSTON
A Fool if Only He
Chap in Chintz
SEVEN ROYAL (fl late 19th cent.)
Stand up and Sing
Niece of John
Hollingshead (1826-1904), theatrical manager and playwright.
Lillian Russell (1861-1922) was the leading American musical comedy
artiste of her day.
See JULIAN ELTINGE
(1717-79) was incomparably the finest actor of his day.
See CHARLES LAURI jnr
Earned his title not
as a performer but as a Music Hall manager, impresario and entrepreneur.
chunks of Dickens and Shakespeare under such titles as All The
World's a Stage, Cameos from Dickens, Shadows of the Past, and Shakespeare
Holt and Bert Maurice
HOMER & JETHRO
Jenry D. Haynes
(1920-71) and Kenneth Barnes (1920-89)
See BIG BILL
DYER, HARRY LESTER.
HOPE, NAT &
RAY, DOREEN (fl1923-40 and 1949-50s)
Just a Friendly
(b1896) and his wife. Originally k.a. Nat & Doreen
Brennan. As a solo performer Mr Hope billed himself as The
Comfortable Comedian. His grandfather wss CHARLES SLOMAN.
A Mountain of
HOUGHTON, A. B.
pianist. Latterly also worked under his real name of Stanley
Waller Buttons at the Piano.
See Will H. Fox
Member number 200 of
the Grand Order of Water Rats.
The Generator of
HUGH, FRED (b1899)
High, Wide and
Frederick Hugh Ling
The Essence of
Big Bundle of
Singing/Golden-Voiced Mill Boy (as a child)
Hilton initially achieved celebrity as a dance-band leader - in 1929
his records sold six million in one month alone. At one time his
featured singer was Doreen Stephens (1922-65) and the band included
JACK JACKSON and Paul Fenhoulet (of the SKYROCKETS ORCHESTRA). By
1940 he had abandoned the baton to become an impresario, reuniting the
CRAZY GANG at the Victoria Palace in 1947. His lack of height,
podgy figure and pudgy face belied an exceptionally amorous nature,
and he lived in a maelstrom of carnality. This entry's
first wife, the formidable Ennis Parkes (c1882-1957), toured her own
band as Mrs Jack Hylton's Orchestra. His second wife, thirty-nine
years his junior, was Australian model and beauty queen, Beverley
Prowse (1932-2000). One of his singers was his sister Dolly Elsie
(1916-61), whose husband Hugh Ferry ran his business empire.
Dolly also sang with BILLY COTTON. Mr Hylton left £242,228.
Also see MAGGIE
Dark Cloud of
JACKLEY & JEE
Seen on a poster for
the Palace Huddersfield, March 14th.,1949. Possibly Joy
Jackley (sister of NAT JACKLEY) and her husband Seth Jee (d1972).
JACKSON, ED &
BROWN, DOT (fl c1940s)
Jackson was possibly
Eddie Jacobs (1896-1980)
Asking for Trouble
This London born
trumpeter began his working life with all the leading Metropolitan
dance bands, including Ambrose and JACK HYLTON. In 1932 Mr
Jackson was running his own band at the Dorchester Hotel, also playing
in shows, revues and variety (one of his singers was SAM COSTA).
By degrees this entry became something of a radio personality, his late
night radio programme Record Round Up being especially
popular. In 1949 he returned to variety as a single act - we
clearly remember his surprising capacity for what
is now known as gurning - but remained a popular broadcaster till his
death. "Quiet, Tiddles" was a catch-phrase.
JANE and her dog
...of the Daily
The second and
tremendously successful model for Norman Betts' cartoon character Jane
was Mrs Chrystabel Leighton-Porter (1913-2000), a beautiful blonde who
in 1939 at the London Palladium was voted Britain's Perfect Girl.
Her enormous contribution to maintaining the morale of British troops
was recognised by Churchill himself when he described her as `Britain's
JAY, LARRY (d. 16
Louder Than Words
WALTER CERETTA (c1877-1942)
My Head and Hands
Against the World
This entry was
obliged to give up performing due to a skin disease of the hands caused
by his original occupation as a metal moulder in West Bromwich.
He then managed The Panoptican, a Leeds magic shop cum
museum-waxworks-peepshow. His wife was Mdme Veronica (also d1942)
a palmist whose real name was Edith.
JEES, THE (FIVE)
The Musical Smithy
Extended family of
entertainers including James Henry (1849-1906), Joseph (1841-90),
Frederick (1870-1932), James H. (1873-1930), Harry (d. 7 July 1934),
See EGBERT BROTHERS
He of the Funny Ways
Later k.a. Stan Laurel of Laurel & Hardy.
The Comedy Gem
Hercules was a
legendary Graeco-Roman hero of superhuman strength. Similar
claimants to inordinate musculatory power were George Frowde (b1832)
and John Marx (fl c1900) who like EUGENE SANDOW were billed as The
Modern Hercules. Peter Ducrow (1765-1815)
- father of Andrew Ducrow - was The Flemish Hercules
and Fred Paulsen The American Hercules. Finally we note
the existence of Mr William Bankier (1872-1949) who described himself,
and who shall say him nay?, as The Scottish Hercules.
Domestic turmoil act
Craven (John Edward Davies) (d. 20 April 1894)
JOY, PAULINE (fl
Playing the late
Teddy Brown's Xylophone
See TEDDY BROWN
The English Waltz
Family name: Edmund
KAYE, JOE (d. 25
The Wonder Fool
Family name: Thomas
KEAN & MATHER
Ken Kean and Laurel
(d. 25 June 1915)
The Man who
explorer and lecturer.
JULES (fl. c1890s)
This artiste was
the use of his legs; his act demonstrated remarkable manual
strength and dexterity.
James jr (1869-1942), Venetia, William Philip (b1872) who married Bella
Fothergill of THE FOTHERGILL FAMILY, Jack(?) (1875-1927). Also
Bob Kellino, clown, noted at J. H.Cooke's Circus, Edinburgh, 1889-90
KELLY, WALTER C.
KENDAL, ALEC (d.
songwriter - "I'm Twenty-One Today" (1911) being his best remembered
a.k.a. Charles A.
Mack. The American periodical Variety printed two obituaries, the
second giving this entry's date of birth as 1874 which, since he
married in 1886, is obviously wrong.
KENNA, CON (&
The Flying Fools
The Funny Airman
Up The Pole
Con Kenna (né
Fredericks) (1889-1953) and Jim Graham (d. 16 November 1942).
Sometimes the act
as The Kenna Brothers or Con Kenna & Partner. In 1947 Mr
Kenna appeared, somehow, at the London Casino in Mother Goose.
The King of the Highlands
Very Tasty - Very
her husband Douglas Young
KERSAN (d. July
The Shining Star
of Black Minstrelsy
KEYS, THE FOUR
Locked in Harmony
KING, BEN (d. 6
The Michigan Bard
a.k.a. Bow Hackley
PARTNER) (b c1910)
You Take a Piece
Family name: Charles
Out of Thin Air
KING, JAMES (fl
Family name: Cecil
The One Man
The Call Boy
Herbert Joseph Kisbey, comedian. Born Kent, England.
Fastest Mind Reader
Family name: Edward
See THE BEWILDERING
KARNA (fl 1939-67)
Art in the Balance
Life in the
Norman Krandon (27
November 1906 - 19 April 1967) and Mrs Krandon (b.15 November 1916)
Clap Hands - Here
Radio's Wizard of
A man for whom the
word dapper might have been invented, this musician tended to play in
old-fashioned Chopin rhythmic style, with the left hand slightly
preceding the right. Kunz rhymes with prunes.
See WINIFRED ATWELL
Bus or orchestral?
Bounding Buck of
Liberal MP, Radical
MP, editor, wit, diplomatist, but best remembered for introducing a
Parliamentary amendment which condemned male homosexuals to eighty
years of furtive criminality. The bill-matter refers to his time as a
circus acrobat. Married to the actress Henrietta Hodson
(1895-1967) - the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz - and his
first wife Mercedes Delpino (1897-1965).
The King of
Producer of the
nation's finest pantomimes. Married GWLADYS STANLEY.
LAMAR, LEONA (d.
The Girl of the
LA RUE, DANNY
After service in the
Royal Navy this entry made his professional début in Soldiers
in Skirts. We once asked Mr La Rue what his bill-matter had been in
the dear dead days of Variety. "Oh, I never had any bill-matter," came
the airy reply. "I was always just Danny La Rue...! That was all
See TED ROGERS
The Human Bird
LA VIER, JACK
& MORGAN, RUTHIE (fl1934-48)
The Man on the
La Vier's family
W. Cover (1897-1967)
See LEOTARD, JULES
Also one of The
Saltos, his own comedy trampolinist troupe
(1894-1978) and Clarence `Tandy' Johnstone (d. 1953)
Revolving Cycle Trapeze Act
Noted at the Empire,
A Kitten Among
cat. Also circus horse rider.
LEE, LES (d. 6
Family name: Haselden
This entry also
enjoyed a complete double set of genitalia.
LEON & LUCETTE
A Brother to
This bill-matter is
on the celebrated 1910 Drury Lane sketch A Sister To Assist 'Er.
m. Edward Colley (d.
15 January 1899)
The Man with the
Rannin the Cingalese
was The Man with the Iron Skin; for other iron usages see
Signor BARNATO etc
Assisted by Doreen
Early Country &
Western band which included Goofus and Arabella. This team were
popular broadcasters whose hill-billy style was no bar to appearances
in pantomime. And why should it have been? The Hayseeds
included Jackie Dawson, Glyn Evans, Duggie Dufton, Eddie Goofus Brown,
George Hopkins, Syd Snow, and Jimmy Gilbert aka Ferdi the Frog.
See BIG BILL CAMPBELL
Married the daughter
of Cingalee (see ALEXANDER HERRMANN).
LEVANDA & VAN
Feats with the Feet
First appeared with her family troupe (the Moxons).
Van is her daughter, born 1932.
LEVEY, ADELE (b
The Famous and
Originally one of
Levey Sisters; went solo 1910.
LEWIS, NELLIE (d.
12 September 1930)
The Factory Girl
The Man who
Stopped a Panic at the Old Mogul
Music Hall in Drury Lane was always known by its pre-1851 name of
the Old Mogul or the Old Mo. Mr Lilburn, it seems, averted a
panic by continuing to perform a comic song when fire broke out in the
Hall. But such heroism availed him naught for he ended his days
turning a handle on a street-piano, though still proclaiming himself as
The Man who Stopped a Panic at the Old Mogul.
No Man's Land
See THE BOGANNYS,
Song Cycle with
Not to be confused
with Marie Lloyd's sister.
LOMAS TROUPE (fl
Troubles in Monkey-land
Company included Bob
Pender (1871-1939) and Fred Bithell (ANIMAL & BIRD ACTS).
...and his Royal
Family name: Hugh
Corcoran. In the early 1920s partnered with DAN YOUNG and billed as Inside
and Outside a Theatre.
See Sir CHARLES
Could this be Rex
Lorraine (Harold Ready, b1902) who retired from variety due to injuries
sustained while serving in the RAF during World War II?
The Juggling Limit
LYONS & FAY
The Real Gone Gal
Derived from her hit
song He's a Real Gone Guy.
The Bombs of
(1887-1969) and Joe Fay
Begone, Dull Care!
The first billing
title of this entry's celebrated one-man show.
See HARRY LISTON.
The Boy With The
The Cape Breton
At his death poor Mr
MacASKILL stood 7'9" tall and weighed 500lbs.
& MADGE (fl1900s)
The World's Smallest Leprechaun
Award winning international magician. 1949 m. June Cochrane k.a.
The Real McKay
For family see Sing
Us One of the Old Songs
MACNORTON - see
MACS, THE TWO
Tapping a Man for
Sketch comics - for
family see Sing Us One of the Old Songs.
Though from Norfolk
the renowned boxer was not a gypsy.
Ambassador of Song
(b. 13 Aug 1930)
singing for comedy, at which his talent was subsumed by a vicious
attitude to minority groupings. He must be the last comedian in the
world still doing jokes about World War II.
31 July 1951)
See PEG-LEG BATES
Born Alfred Edward
Touchinsky. We twice had the pleasure of working in pantomime
with this exceptionally fine comedian, who was also a trained operatic
baritone. He married the comedienne-impressionist Paddy O'Neil,
and a highly combustible relationship it was. We personally
witnessed this abrasiveness more than one occasion during the 1959-60
run of Humpty Dumpty at the London Palladium, when Miss O'Neil
(The Queen of Hearts) refused to go on, leaving her husband (The King
of Hearts) to say both their lines. This was especially trying for
Alfred during the 'Punch & Judy' sequence.
The Blithe Spirit
(fl1940s-50s. d. 19 November 1975?)
Nearly a Half Wit
The Boy Baritone
(as a boy)
the RAF in Canada Mr Martin notched up a record 2,280 performances as
resident comedian at the WINDMILL, and was also a favourite at the
London Palladium. A prolific writer, he supplied comedy material
for the likes of DAVE ALLEN, TOMMY COOPER, Keith Harris, Rolf Harris,
DAVID NIXON, JIMMY TARBUCK, and HARRY WORTH.
(& COMPANY) (fl1875-c1910)
troupe. For family details see Sing Us One of the Old Songs.
L(o)uis Martinetti appears on film in an 1894 one-reeler. For details
and stills URL:
d. 19 Jul 2003 aged 73.
(& FRED) (fl 1940s)
Wired for Laughs
artistes. For family details see Sing Us One of the Old Songs.
At one time Gummo (Milton) Marx was billed as The World's Slowest
(d. December 28th 1999)
Fool Marx for
Very funny little
rotund man who looked Jewish but was in fact a Goy. "Sh!" he'd
say,"I like 'em to think I'm Jewish - all those weddings and
The Wizard of
A great sportsman
His father, a keen amateur boxer, was k.a. The Fighting Barber
of Hanley. He was appointed CBE in 1957 and in 1965
became the first football player to be knighted.
MAVIS, MABEL (fl
Greatest of all
MAX, AL (&
A Fool and his
The British Prime
Minister of Mirth
It seems curious to
choose this billing as (Sir) GEORGE ROBEY had been The Prime
Minister of Mirth since the 1890s.
MAYNARD, BILL (b.
8 Oct 1928)
Billed at the age of
nine as Little Billy Williams Leicester's Own George Formby. A
comedian turned actor, Mr Maynard's arrogance and confrontational
manner know no bounds. His departure from the ITV series Heartbeat
was greeted with deep sighs of relief from cast and crew
Dramatic Orthoepic Songstress
What 'orthoepic' is
intended to imply is anyone's guess.
The Light of
`Tash' (with Bette Carole) (fl1947-1950s)
...and his Archer
(b1913). For an explanation of spiv see ARTHUR ENGLISH.
JESSIE (fl c1890s)
Eldest of the three
Sisters Merrilees, Miss Jessie married one William B. Wood whereupon
the act was disbanded. Mrs Wood, however, went solo and acquired
her Gallic bill-matter after appearances in the French capital.
MILLER & DEANE
Believe It Or Not
(1886-1943) and Millie Deane
See LANE BROS
The Dumb Blonde
The Merry Maid of
From 1902 this
entry, a mimic and `American and French dancer', sometimes called
herself Mina Marie.
Queen of the
Senorita Maria do
Carmo Miranda da Cunha (Mrs David Sebastian) was born in Portugal but
raised in Brazil. This entry's enormous charm, flashing eyes and
Latino vivacity combined with an idiosyncratic use of the English
language propelled her to Broadway in 1939 and swift Hollywood
stardom. In 1940 Senorita Miranda was David Selznik's
highest-paid female contract artist, hugely popular world-wide except
in Brazil where she was thought to project a demeaning caricature of
...and his Garbage
MIRZAH (fl c1900s)
The Man in Green
The artiste was a
MONTAGUE BROS (fl
A Sculptor's Dream
These fine muscular
specimens appeared in what appeared to be nothing more than a fig-leaf,
but most artistically posed.
A Fool if ever
Family name: Harry
The $10,000 Beauty
Montgomery (1870-1917) and Fred A. Stone (1873-1959). As a child
Mr Stone appeared briefly as Mdlle Amy D'Artago; more significantly he
was one of the eight founder members of The White Rats of America
Give Me The Book
Ida Holbein (d. 3
MOORE, GEORGE F.
See ADELINA, JOHN
MORAN & MACK
The Two Black
Originally k.a. Swor
& Mack: John Swor (1883-1965), replaced 1917 by `Moran' - George
Searchy (1881-1949). Other personnel included Harry Summerson
(1875-1949) and Charles E. Sellers (1887-1935).
(d. 9 October 1972)
A Mister who is
Always a Miss
(d. 3 March 1940)
Bunch of Trouble
MORTON, JAMES J.
First Master of Ceremonies
'E, I'm a Bad 'Un!
MURPHY & MACK
Frank Murphy (d1944)
and Ernest Mack (Ernest Madelle Stone) (c1885-?). Murphy was at
one time with FRED KARNO (1905-12). The act showed a drunk whose
shadow moved in opposite directions.
Family names: John
(Jack) Buchanan and his wife Connie Hobbs
The Finest Sand
Dancer in the World
Family name: Mae
(Mrs Harry Bawn)
Prince of Mimics
Alec Navarre went
solo c1935. His remarkable vocal versatility permitted
impersonations of such diverse singers as the renowned Russian bass
Fyodor Chaliapin (1873-1938), the equally renowned Irish tenor Count
JOHN McCORMACK, and the French boulevardier Maurice Chevalier
The Mighty Atom
See BOY BRUCE.
For persons of
restricted growth see JIMMY CLITHEROE.
Mr Nixon was with
De ROLS but became hugely popular through his television shows entitled
It's Magic, whence his bill-matter. This tall, balding,
soft-spoken, undemonstrative conjurer left £124,944.
NIXON & DIXON
Never a Dull Moment
Noted at the Empire, Edinburgh, w/c 19 November 1956.
The Prince of
Married To AGNES
NORTH & STOYLE
Radio's Bride and
(1939?-61?) and Pat Stoyle
Oceans of Notions
The eminent regurgitator was born in Lyons as Claude Louis
Delair. In Grace Beauty &
Banjos we stated that this remarkable artiste was a.k.a Harry Norton; we now know
this to be erroneous, and that we confused Mac Norton with another
regurgitator called Harry Morton. The latter could down up to 300
small mugs of beer in his act; he was at his peak in the 1920s.
was founded and funded by Lord Nuffield to provide service personnel at
a loose end in central London with a cheap meal and entertainment
untainted by the moral hazards only too readily available, then as now,
to the unwary.
Originally in Piccadilly the Nuffield Centre moved to Adelaide Street
behind St Martin-in-the-Fields, its doors offering a haven for many
years after World War Two to National Servicemen. Among the
artistes who found the canteen a useful shop-window were ARTHUR ASKEY,
MICHAEL BENTINE, Ronnie Corbett, TOMMY COOPER, CHARLIE DRAKE, JIMMY
EDWARDS, BENNY HILL, FRANKIE HOWERD, BILL PERTWEE, Steve Race, and
late 1950s we also worked there, not as an entertainer but as a
kitchen-porter, cleaning the pots and scrubbing the floors. In
this menial work we shone, however, for within a very short time we had
achieved promotion to the senior post available to part-timers: serving
in the officers' mess.
OLGO (THE MIRACLE
a.k.a. Professor Olgo
with PEGGY HAIG
Peggy Haig was Mrs
Terry O'Neill. Mr O'Neill's d.o.b. 12 December 1922.
ORTONS, THE FOUR
Straight and Narrow Path
Wired Up for
The Musician with
the Twinkling Feet
was Mrs Overbury.
OXFORDS, THE FIVE
Was this act aka THE
FIVE DYNAMOS qv?
Mr Palmer's dates:
PARK, LOLL (b1899)
The Lad of
This entry also
worked with his wife as Loll Park & Tina Trent (b c1900) Boosting
Queen of Rumba
PARRY, RON (b1921)
Sane As You Are
The Baboon Lady
Born in the forests of Mexico with the face of an ape and a body
covered with dense black
hair. Died in childbirth - her baby son was also thickly hirsute.
Both were embalmed and their corpses may be viewed, if such is
your predilection, at the National Hopital in Oslo. See JOE
The Handcuff King
Family name: Louis
The Human Doll
The Living Doll
Paulina Musters was
born in Dutch village of Ossendrecht. Achieved maximum height of 17
ins. Parents and siblings of normal height. Extremely pretty, charming
and acrobatic. Toured the world and swiftly accumulated a large
Soldier on the Wire
We seem to recall
seeing this bill-matter as The Chocolate Soldier on the Slack Wire;
either our memory is at fault or the introduction of the Slack Wire was
a later refinement.
& PEGGY (fl 1930s)
The New Low
So advertised in the
(London) Entr'acte 20 April 1906
The World Famous
King of the Banjo
PELL & LITTLE
(fl late 1920s-50s)
A Pair but How
The Parson and
Stan Pell and Stan
Little né Robert Stanley Thompson (1910-2000). Stan Little
originally billed as Just a Boy.
Making a Night of
(1876-1952) & Billy Whitlock (1875-1951). These two artistes
also recorded as The Jolly Jesters and The Two Old Sports. As a
solo artiste Mr Whitlock's bill-matter was The Phonetic Comedian.
A Supper at
15 May 1940) and Henri (d. 24 May 1939).
Nightingales see LILY AUSTIN.
(& MARION) (b1926)
Husband & wife
team: Marion was at one time k.a. Miss Vitality
The Man in the
PETRIES, THE TWO
Dancing Plantation Cane Dancers
Willie and Alfy
(& MARTA) (fl1940s-50s)
Design to Delight
Miss Picon may have
been born as early as 1890.
PIKE, Captain (fl
PIRATES, THE TWO
Oh, No There
Isn't! Oh, Yes There Is!
Comedian and Stump Orator
Mr Pitcher is known
to have appeared at Argyle Theatre of Varieties Birkenhead w/c 1
Born in Leigh,
Lancashire, this flat-capped comedian's celebrated catch-phrase was
"I'll not take me coat off - I'm not stopping". In his teens his
bill-matter was The Pocket George Formby. Mr Platt declared
that his twenty-two week run with HYLDA BAKER in Not on your Nellie
the North Pier Blackpool in 1976 was "a living nightmare".
Started with STARS IN BATTLEDRESS.
PONTI, FRANK P.
(d. 23 September 1987)
The Vagabond Tenor
The Comedy Queen
This was the Gaiety
Greatest Chopin Player
Usually billed by
surname only, this supreme pianist made his debut at the age of
five. His bill-matter dates from 1922, two
years after leaving his native Russia. Internationally acclaimed
for masterly style and technique, Maestro Pouishnoff settled in England
and was naturalized in 1931.
PETITE (d July? 1949)
Doll of the
This entry appeared
at the Palace Huddersfield for the w/c Monday March 1949. Could
he be Alfred John Baden-Powell (b 15 October 1900) who was also a
xylophonist and at one time ran the A. J. Powell Banjo Octet?
First broadcast Cruising
Down the River on 30 July 1945, the winning entry (of 73,853) in a
song-writing competition organised by the Hammersmith Palais. The
singer was Paul Rich (1921-2000). Other vocalists with Praeger at
time were Lynn Shaw and Rita Carr.
Magic with a Punch
The Gilded Shadow
BROWN (fl c1920s)
Eddie Prevost and
PRYDE, PERCY (d.
The English Sontag
(1806-54) was the finest German soprano of her day.
Four Men One Song
Founded by Art Reed
1935 as The Four Crotchets with Freddie Holmes (1914-2000), Harry Hawes
and Jack Hazleton, this close-harmony Mills Brothers-style quartet
turned professional as The Philco Four. When their association
with Philco Radio ceased in 1937 they became the Radio Revellers, only
to disband on the outbreak of World War II during which Mr Hazleton
died in action as a bomber pilot. On the cessation of hostilities
the quartet was revived with Messrs Reed and Holmes joined by Alwyn
Fernhead and Stan Emeney (b1911). Deciding to quit while at the
the group split up after appeaing in These Foolish Kings with
the CRAZY GANG at the Victoria Palace.
RAF GANG SHOWS
celebrated Boy Scout Gang Shows were established in the 1930s;
his wartime Gang Shows were formed from serving RAF personnel to supply
entertainment where Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA)
was unable to reach. In 1946 Mr Reader linked up his organisation
with STARS IN BATTLEDRESS to become Combined Services Entertainment
(CSE). Artistes in the shows included JOE BLACK, COX TWINS, BILLY
DAINTY, REG DIXON, DICK EMERY, Sgt TONY HANCOCK, Rex Jameson
(Mrs SHUFFLEWICK), David Lodge, Len Lowe, LAC ROBERT MORETON,
Cpl PETER SELLERS, Cardew Robinson, Rex Roper, VICTOR SEAFORTH, Arthur
RAIE, HAL &
The Act of Tone
The Famous Irish
King of Principal
The third soubriquet
was also used by MARIE LLOYD and LILY MORRIS.
A Fool Among
To Amuse and
In 1950 Ralph Chart
was declaring himself to be Member of the Inner Magic Circle with Gold
Star, Vice-President of International Brotherhood of Magicians, Fellow
of Institute of Magicians (London), and a Member of Syndicat
International des Artistes Prestidigitateurs (Paris).
was noted at the Oxford in Apr 1914.
RAYMOND, BOB E.
This artiste was, as
his bill-matter implies, a light comedian. We were apprised of
his details by his son, that excellent actor Gary Raymond.
The Black Boss of
the Benighted Bohemians
hall writer/composer and performer of comic songs. Said to have been
a strong influence on EUGENE STRATTON.
THREE - see JEAN BAMBERGER
Accordion Band with Dorothy Squires
With Miss Squires
this entry was also billed as The Composer and The Voice. Other
accordion bands popular in the 1930s-50s were MACARI and Primo Scala
(1898-1955) ...and his Accordion Band.
See DOROTHY SQUIRES
REID, DONALD (b
Breath of the
REID TWINS (b1923)
The Gallant Hussar
Wyn Smith (1917-98)
and husband Reg (b1909)
and Champion Clog Dancer of Scotland
See DAN LENO, VESTA
VICTORIA, JOHN WILLIAMS for other clog dancing champions.
The Man who
Wrestles with Himself
A Half Pint of Fun
RHODES & LANE
It's Alright for
Husband & wife
team: Billy (Timperley) Rhodes (1914-67) and Chika Lane
(1915-1996). From 1934-6 Mr & Mrs Timperley teamed with Fred
and Gladys Dell (later of THE DEHL TRIO) and Leslie Drecker as The Five
Mother of the Oversplit
Celebrated American contortionist, Ruby Norr D'Imperio's billmatter
refers to a stunt in which she stood in a backbend with her feet
on two chairs and then slid them apart.
The drag appearance
alluded to under BARBETTE was a short-lived interlude in Australia in
1902, just a brief part of a lengthy
career as gymnast and aerialist. With his first wife Holly King
(1888-1918) whom he married in 1906 John Richard Evans devised an act
in 1914 k.a. The Dental Riskits, a title suggested by HARRY
LAUDER. After Holly died he continued the act until 1938 with his
second wife Betty (1897-1986). Ended his career as manager of the
Theatre Royal, Bilston, West Midlands. See lengthy entry in Who's Who in Variety (1950).
(& PARTNER) (fl1920s)
Must be a Topping
Personality & Pep
artiste and dancer Harry Ristori (or Ristorie) died in 1974.
Starting in the family act (Protti), he later worked for many years
with his wife Marjorie Fitzalan (1904-89) and Harry & Marjorie
The Dresden China
The Girl with
Mr Robbins was a
ROBINSON, W. V.
Married Lily Smith,
Not So Bad
ROGERS, JOHN R.
London's Pet Boy
Family name: Ronald
Served a prison term
for forging his mother's signature on cheques. BOB MONKHOUSE
claims to have given up smoking due to
Romark's hypnotic powers.
LEONARD, CONNIE (fl c1930s-40s)
All in Fun
See WISER & WARD
Cellist. Only Man in the World Playing Cello and Walking About!
fl. late 19th cent?
ROSS, MAUDE (d. 6
& Top-Boot Dancer
For other serios see
ROXY, AL (&
The Hick and his
ROY, HARRY (AND
HIS BAND) (1900-71)
Mirth & Music
The King of
See IVOR MORETON
ROY, SONNY (b1922)
The Funny Boy
Worked for many
ROZE, LELIA (fl
RUSSELL, BERT (fl
RUSTY & SHINE
Dusky Prince, The
A Man of Many
Another Man of
Many Parts was Max Imber.
See Clark &
Ritchie (BICYCLE ACTS)
The Elephant Boy
(d. 21 April 1994)
It's in the Gag
The Wit to
ST CLAIR, BUNTY
Neatest of the
Family name: Valerie
St Clair Bell
ST CLAIR, F. V.
The Human Song
song writer. One of his effusions in 1915 was Kitchener! Stand By
Him, to be followed in 1916 by the melancholy Kitchener! Gone
But Not Forgotten.
ST CYR, LILI
in the U.S.A.
The Anatomic Bomb
Family name: F.
The Blue Streak
A Blue Streak of Lightning
Samuels' repertoire included our favourite song-title: It
Takes Long Tall Brown-Skin Gal to Make a Preacher Lay his Bible
(1906), sung by this white artiste in black face.
SANBORN, FRED (& CO) (d. 15 March 1961)
The Speechless Comic
Drunk of Drunks
For other stage
inebriates see JOHNNY COOPER
The Little Bundle
Greatest Boy Actor
The Toole of the
J. L. Toole
(1830-1906) was Britain's best-loved low comedian.
MUSICAL - see The Elliotts & Savonas (BICYCLE ACTS)
J. B. Elliott (founder) d. 22 May 1906, Ralph Elliott d. 7 Aug 1909,
Thomas Elliott d. 2 Sep 1929, May Elliott d. 5 Sep 1929.
The More You Laugh
The most unpleasant
and gratuitously offensive man we have ever had the misfortune to work
with. His bullying and rudeness took our breath away, yet his wife,
whom he betrayed publicly and humiliatingly, was the
nicest woman imaginable. The More You Laugh was spotted on a
1954 poster for the New Tivoli, Hull.
The Man of a
The number of voices
depended upon the whim of his agent or the theatre manager where he was
playing; as well as a thousand it could vary between ninety-nine,
a hundred, or a hundred and one. Mrs Seaforth was on the Halls as
Suma of Johnny Lamonte (& Suma) (JUGGLERS).
See PAUL J. BARNES,
HAROLD BERENS, MEL BLANC, JOAN TURNER
of the World
Prince of Jesters
SEARS, GEORGE W.
The Lion King
See THE GREAT CARTER
A Thrill to your
Eyes, Ears and Heart
SEEL, CHARLES (d.
20 December 1903)
A Man of Many
SEELEY & WEST
The Nigger and
the White Man
W. R. Seeley and
Jack West. Bill Seeley (black-face) married the hugely
popular Music Hall male impersonator Bessie BONEHILL (1855-1902).
Jack West was her eldest son by her first husband Lou Abrahams, manager
of The Queen's Poplar, East London. In the (London) Entr'acte
for 13 April 1906 Seeley & West are advertised as Comedians
& Instrumentalists. A Funny Study in Black and White.
Quite what a 'radio toreador' did to entertain remains unknown.
This entry appeared with Blanche Coleman and her Girls Band at
the Royal Hippodrome, Eastbourne, for the w/c 22 April, 1946.
SEELEY, FRANK (d.
11 March 1913)
Unrelated to the
above, this entry started on the Halls with his brother Fred as Heeley
and Hallam. He later became a popular comic soloist who
died leaving a daughter and a wife, WINIFRED WARD. He was
son-in-law of Mrs Will Poluski, and brother-in-law of Gus & Lottie
McNaughton and of Will jnr and Sam Poluski. See Sing Us One
of the Old Songs for his repertoire. Also see PETER FANNAN.
SEGAL, HARRY (d.
29 May 1963)
Fugitive from a
As Sapper Harry
a World War II troop show his bill-matter was He Who Gets Slapped,
a reference to the traditional commedia dell'arte fall-guy.
The Snappy Chappy
This artiste also on
occasion spelled his name Selser. Began as boy ventriloquist with
Born in Bath of an
English mother and an Italian father this tinkler of light classics was
usually billed, a shade pretentiously, by his surname only.
SETZ, VAL (b. 1
SHAMVAS, THE (fl
Pastimes of the
SHAND, Sir JIMMY
The Laird o'
Not the least of
this button-board accordionist's honours was in 1998 to be made first
Freeman of the Kingdom of Fife.
SHAW, AL (1894-57)
...and his Blue
The Golden Voice
See PEG-LEG BATES
The Minister of
Family name: Thomas
Cock of the North
See KEN DODD
The Ace of Syncopation
Black American lyricist, singer and record producer.
Also ran a band called Sissle's Sizzling Syncopators.
Music in the
Founded in 1942 from
volunteer RAF musicians, this ensemble stayed together after
demobilisation as a co-operative, playing regularly on BBC Radio, at
the London Palladium, and in three consecutive Royal Variety
Performances (1946-8). Paul Fenhoulet (1905-80), who had been
with CARROLL GIBBONS and JACK HYLTON, was elected first musical
director and Les Lambert the first business manager. Paul Fenhoulet was
succeeded in 1947 by Woolf Phillips (1919-2003).
This gentleman is,
The Voice of the
Enjoyed a brief
the 1960s with comic songs performed in his native Norfolk dialect,
including I Miss My Miss From Diss, Oi Can't Get A Noice Loaf Of
Bread, and his biggest hit which won an Ivor Novello award for best
novelty song in 1966 Hev Yew Gotta Loight
Boy?. Alas, Mr Smethurst suffered from severe stage fright
and spent his last twenty years as an alcoholic in a Salvation Army
hostel in Grimsby.
Empress of the
THE FIVE (fl1932-60s)
Mr & Mrs
Smith's Five Little Boys
Alfred Roy Smith (b1912) with his brothers Martin, Harold Andrew
(b1916), Roy (b1918) and Stanley (b1914). Martin was killed in a
car accident in 1936 and replaced by Ronnie Culbertson (b1919).
SOLDIERS IN SKIRTS
Every Hit a Miss
Post-World War II
all-male revue. Alumni include DANNY LA RUE and MRS SHUFFLEWICK,
also Louis Hayden, Eric Lloyd The Forces Sweetheart, and Ronnie
Lady of Lions
Sometimes billed as
See ELLEN BLIGHT,
PAULINE DE VERE, CLAIRE HELIOT, POLLY HILTON
A Smile and a Song
SPARKS, Prof (and
We dimly recall the
Professor asking for a gentleman volunteer from the audience. The
hapless individual would then be asked to bath a `baby', a doll wired
up to an electrical current. The volunteer's contortions as he
endeavoured to fulfil his task roused the greatest hilarity.
Either the entire act was phoney, volunteer included, or if genuine
the spine-chilling BBC Radio 1940s drama series Appointment with
John Richard Spence
and William Charles Davies (b c1900?)
SPINK & SPINK
Albert George Spink
(1869-1947) and brother Fred. From the 1890s Albert worked as
Dandy George & Dog Rosie. M. (1) Ena Bertoldi (see QUEEN
OF...) (2) Lilian Ethel Newman (c1894-1953), singer/dancer.
Dandy George & Rosie appeared in a version of their stage act in a
pioneering British sound film in 1927.
This revue group was
formed by soldiers serving in France in 1918. Originally k.a. The
Splinters, they became Les Rouges et Les Noirs in 1919 but
toured Britain until the late 1930s as Splinters, the personnel
remaining exclusively male. Its World War II counterpart -
SOLDIERS IN SKIRTS - never achieved the same éclat.
Artistes who appeared in Splinters include SYDNEY HOWARD,
Chris Shinfield (FORD & SHEEN), Reg Stone, Hal Jones, Harry Tracey,
Dan Richards, Bina Leopold, Roy Byng, Gus Aubrey, Jimmy Slater, Vivian
Taylor, and George Ellisa The Perfect Lady. In 1928 the
show was touring as Super Splinters. Other all-male revues which toured
in the post-World War II years largely featuring ex-servicemen were Forces
Showboat, Forces in Petticoats, Boys Will Be Girls, Misleading Ladies,
This Was The Army, and Tokyo Express. In 1929 a film
version of Splinters starred Reg Stone, Nelson Keys, Hal
Jones, Lew Lake, and SYDNEY HOWARD.
FOL De ROLS, THE RAF GANG SHOWS, STARS IN BATTLEDRESS.
From 1929 Leo
Walter Pozorski (see WALTER COLBERG) were k.a. Leo & Walter,
changing to The Three Spurgats when Leo's wife joined the act in
1932. Identical bill-matter was displayed by The Colbergs
(fl1936-50s): Walter Colberg (Pozorski) (b1904) and his step-daughter
who retired on her marriage in 1946. Her successor's name
is not known.
Miss Squires was
celebrated as much for her bitter, cantankerous and combative nature as
for her singing. Her strident glamour, court-room theatrics and
excesses of her private life made her a gay icon, and, according to a
gay acquaintance of ours, the sibilance of the audience at her London
Palladium concerts made the stalls of that great auditorium sound like
'a snake-pit'. Four years after her death John Lloyd, the Hon Sec
of the Dorothy Squires Fan Club, described her in print as The Iron
Lung of Show Business, a very rum encomium indeed.
See JOYCE GOLDING,
The Silver Voiced
(fl1880s-1900s) was, less vaingloriously, The Singing Navvy.
Queen of English
Married the renowned
pantomime impresario FRANCIS LAIDLER.
He's Clean Crazy
British conductor of light music billed as Mr Music was Eric
The Sweet Singer
Family name: Henri
A.k.a. The Central
Pool of Artists, Stars in Battledress were an organisation of Army
personnel founded by Captain George Black RA, Major W. H. (Bill)
Alexander, and Lt Col A. Basil Brown who entertained their
comrades-in-arms where the civilian performers of ENSA could not
penetrate. In 1946 SIB joined with Ralph Reader's RAF GANG SHOWS
as Combined Services Entertainment (CSE). The Royal Navy, being
largely at sea, had no
equivalent and was reliant for its own marine-flavoured entertainment
on special broadcasts and the Navy Welfare Organisation of
whom Jon Pertwee was a modest-sized wheel.
SIB personnel included Harry Benet (VENTRILOQUISTS), Faith Brook, Janet
Brown, CHARLIE CHESTER, Kenneth Connor, Margaret Courtenay, Frederick
Ferrari (see CHARLIE CHESTER), MORTON FRASER, SPIKE MILLIGAN, SID
Moray, Ken Morris, KEN PLATT, CARDEW ROBINSON, RONNIE RONALDE, HARRY
SECOMBE, DON SMOOTHEY, TERRY-THOMAS, Bruce Trent, JACK TRIPP, REG
VARNEY, and NORMAN VAUGHAN.
...and his Silver
Freddie Northcoat, Frederick William Wisker began his professional
career as a pianist and singer. His Silver Songsters were founded
in 1933; their success was founded perhaps on novelty rather than any
inherent musical excellence, for boys' choirs were a rarity on the
Halls. (The only precedent we know of is The Eton Boys Choir, a twenty
strong group under the guidance of Bert Collins, which flourished
ca1916-ca1930.) Nevertheless they toured widely both in the UK
and on the Continent; they made records, appeared in a feature film,
and made numerous radio broadcasts. A celebrated alumnus of the
Songsters was RONNIE RONALDE, who soon became the troupe's star
performer. Another was NORMAN VAUGHAN. The COX TWINS also began their
careers as part of the 21-voice group. After the Second World War
stringent new regulations concerning child performers made the act
unviable and the Songsters chirruped their last in 1947. Mr
Steffani then became then became RONALDE's manager and accompanist,
even following the eminent siffleur into retirement on Guernsey.
The Mad Hatter
See WINIFRED ATWELL
Noted at the Empire, Edinburgh, w/c 19 November 1956.
The Woman Hater
Family name: J. W.
The Last of the
STONE, REG (d.
A Lady of
STOOGES, THE THREE
Moe (Horwitz) Howard
(1897-1975) and his brothers Shemp (Samuel) (1895-1955) and Curly
(Jerome) (1903-52). From 1917 Shemp and Moe
worked as a double act, to be joined in 1922 by Ted Healy (Charles
Earnest Nash) (1886-1937). The next three decades saw many
comings, goings and re-groupings, Larry Fine (Louis Fineberg) (1902-75)
becoming involved from 1925 and Joe Besser (1907-88) from 1955.
I Told You,
Ya Do, Don't Ya!
You Do, Don't You!
Could this have been
Jack Story, husband of PHYLLIS DIXEY?
Never the Same
Stuthard (b. 16 September 1911) and his wife (?)
The Wonder of the
See Marzella (ANIMAL
& BIRD ACTS)
The Belle of the
...and his Swing
Mr Swain and his
saxophonistes toured the Halls "to great acclaim" in 1949.
See LES ALLEN.
SWEET, CHARLES R.
SWOR & MACK -
see MORAN & MACK
The Only Female
Magician in England
Noted at the
Cremorne Gardens, 1852
TENUTA, JUDY (fl
Goddess of Comedy
Twists & Turns
Frances-Holmes) and Babs
There Are No
Violet Terry (b1912
Johnnie Riscoe) and her sister.
At one time billed
as The Terry Sisters & PEGGY DESMOND
TERRY TWINS, THE
Comedians who Cannot be Duplicated
Together We Stand
These artistes were
identical twins. One was Frank, who died 5 Oct 1951 aged 67.
THELMA, Mdlle (fl
The Original Lady
The Peal of
A Queen Among
Vocalists and a Ruling Power in the World of Song
Harry G. Thompson
(1850-1937), his wife Mary Horwood a.k.a. Marie Mandeville (1852-1914)
and their son PERCY HONRI. From 1890
k.a. The Royal Thompson Trio.
Londoner, London's Longest Laugh
Mr Took was 6ft
2ins. See obituaries in The Times and The Independent
for 1 April 2002. See CARROLL LEVIS, DONALD B STUART.
The Dapper Dandy
Sang such titles as Wait
Till I'm As Old As Father and The Bad Boy of the Family.
TREE, Mr &
The Miss Tree
In Lord Delfont's Curtain
Up! The Story of the Royal Variety Performance - disgracefully
lacking an index - a photograph purporting to be Mr Tree, who took part
in the 1925 show, is
in fact a photograph of the great actor Beerbohm Tree. How Sir
Herbert would have laughed!
Le Fou Chantant
This bye-name we
have seen translated as The Singing Madman, which does not
really capture M. Trenet's especial flavour. The artiste wrote
over six hundred songs including Boum and La Mer, the
latter being used at one time by Japanese radio as its signature
tune. Such are the sometimes wayward ramifications of fame and
The Electric Spark
This entry was a
vaudeville chanteuse whose repertoire included such dubious titles as Oh,
She Knows a Bit and She'll Never Have The Chance Again.
See MINNIE FARRELL
The film actor
(1895-1926) epitomised smouldering cinematic sex-appeal.
The Vitagraph Girl
Vitagraph was a
leading Hollywood film company in the 1920s and 1930s.
TYLER, RICH (fl
The Happy Hooligan
After many years as
a slapstick vaudevillian this entry enjoyed a lengthy career as a film
comedian, his boss eyes being especially effective in camera
close-up. In 1933 his private address was 602, Kenyon Drive,
The Barrel King
& Trancka Wonder
Trancka = trinka -
Assistants) (fl c1930)
The Modern Eve
The Venus of
The Actor Musician
Born Ezekiel van Biene in Amsterdam. Discovered by Michael da
Costa playing cello in the street and given job playing in Covent
Garden opera orchestra. Became musical director at the Gaiety.
Went on Halls with dramatic musical sketches, one of which, The
Broken Melody, ended with him dying over his
cello as the curtain fell. On Thursday, 23 January 1913, at the
Brighton Hippodrome, with exquisite timing, he actually did die as the
curtain fell. His great-grandson, the actor Roland MacLeod, to
I am indebted for this information also tells me that Auguste 'spread
his image about a bit', and that a letter from Bransby Williams said
'Whenever I was on the bill with Van Biene he always seemed to have a
Mrs Van Biene with him'.
Kentucky. Unusually tall. Married (and divorced) Mose
Gumble, head of Remick Music Publishing. Died unknown in an
institution some forty years after retiring. What happened in
those intervening years is a mystery.
VAN DER VENN (fl
...and his Dutch
See MACARI and Happy
FANNY FIELDS for other Nederlanders.
VANDY (fl c1900)
The Novelty of
The titles of some
of this entry's recitations give an idea of the nature of her art: Reflections
of a Penny, Soliloquy of
the Fire, and We 'Ain't 'Arf Proud o' Dad.
of the Air
Mr Show Biz
See VIC OLIVER
VELDA & VANN
& Thomas Valintine Wood k.a. Tony Vann (b1893). Miss Velda
was originally one of Miss Clara Coverdale's Nine
The Squire of
Family name: Harry
L'As Des Prestidigitateurs
b. Frank Hladik in Stara-Vozice, Czechoslovakia.
The Prince of
Grand Old British Lion, and Sailor Jack were three
typical songs from this strapping artiste's extensive repertoire.
General Sir Redvers Buller VC fought in China (1860), in the Red River
expedition (1870), in the Ashanti War (1874), the Kaffir War
(1878), the Zulu War (1879) and the Boer War where he raised the
siege of Ladysmith (1900).
Champion/Fastest High Kicker
Favourite Society Entertainers
A. A. Haston, C. W.
Mills, A. Tuck; also Julius Maceo Covington (1891-1927).
There was also a favourite ensemble called The Versatile Five, whose
signature tune was Thanks a Million.
They were favourites on BBC radio and the Stoll-Moss variety circuit,
as well as making numerous recordings. Their pianist, Jack
Wilson, died 12 January, 2006, aged 98, but whether the two ensembles
had any connection with each other we do not know.
?The Unique Lady?
impersonator to use interrogatives was ?Lind? (see BARBETTE).
Scotland's Son of
Enoch of BBC
See CASEY'S COURT,
The Infant Sappho
See NELLY LENNOX
Out of this World
Family name: Bobby
See FRED ALLEN
Married Edie, sister
of GRACIE FIELDS
Daft and Proud of
Only Me Knows Why
The Spirit That
WALKER & MAY
comedians and dancers' are featured on page 6 of the 20 January 1906
edition of the (London) Entr'acte; Walker is stated to be
Two Real Coons
George W. Walker
(1873-1911) and Egbert (Bert) Austin Williams (1874-1922).
Sometimes billed as Williams & Walker.
See G. H. ELLIOTT
For the 1935-6
London season k.a. The Five Carlos. This most celebrated of all
highwire troupes included the founder Karl Wallenda (1905-78), his wife
Helen (trampled to death in the 1944 Big Top fire in Hartford,
Connecticut), his brothers Willi (1906-36), who died in a fall, and
Herman (1902-85). Other Wallendas were Joseph, Herman's son
Gunther (1927-96), Margarita Caudillo (Gunther's wife, killed 1959
after a fall), Gene Mendez, Jane Schepp, and Yetta (1920-63) who was
also killed - her husband was Karl's half-brother, Arthur Grotofent.
there were two deaths in performance - Richard Faughman, 29, and Dieter
Schepp, 23 - and Mario, Karl's adopted son, was paralysed in the same
incident. Another member of the troupe
was killed 1972 and Karl also met his death in a fall in 1978,
finally releasing the family from his Svengali-like thrall.
Greatest Rhythm Pianist
The Singing Mill
Blazed a trail for
GRACIE FIELDS to follow. Also see JACK HYLTON.
The Actor at the
See WINIFRED ATWELL
The Gay Deceiver
Cardi was another
as was Saphrim (MAGICIANS).
The Immaculate Boy
Daughter of Will
Poluski senior. At one time worked with sister Lottie as the
Sisters Govett. Married FRANK SEELEY. For repertoire see Sing
Us One of the Old Songs.
The Knockers Up
exhibition was not, as has often been suggested, as a Lassie from
Lancashire awakening mill workers by knocking on their bedroom windows
with a long pole, but something far removed from so innocent and
valuable a public service. Miss Warren (nee IIene F. Goldman) was a New
Yorker who, we regret to report, revelled in the grosser passions, and
the female bosom featured largely in her patter. `Knockers
up! Knockers up! Come on girls, get those shoulders back,
get those knockers up! Now, doesn't that make your navel tingle?'
The artiste referred to herself as open, brash and aggressive, though
never vulgar. In 1978 Miss Warren received a Woman of the Year
Humanitarian Award from the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Clown & American Jester
WE THREE (fl1920s)
Sisters Susie (d16
and Dorothy Belmore with Vera Vere
Henry Thomas Clark
(b1894) and his son Henry Thomas Clark jr (b1920)
The Second Hand
This was the Billy
Wells who presented a drag act, not the US vaudevillian Billy Wells
(1900-49) nor Bombadier Billy Wells (1888-1967), a British boxing
champion who went on the Halls.
Ivy Wensley and
Leslie Dale appear to have died in 1966 in Florida where they had been
settled for some years.
WENTLEY, W. P.
At The Piano
See WINIFRED ATWELL
WALTER (b c1925)
This artiste was a
contortionist who married Miss Grantly The Albino Princess.
Family name: William
Fretwell (b1903). This soi-disant producer-pianist-comedian
is not to be confused with the Chaplin impersonator of the same name.
Originally k.a. Baby
Mae and The Baby Vamp. At one time this vigorously libidinous
artiste was billed as The Original Brinkley Girl. Nell Brinkley
(1886-1944) was a popular American newspaper cartoonist and magazine
The Great Western
The Great Western
Railway, then still in its inchoate state, but well enough known to
provide this artiste with his bill-matter.
25 September 1890)
Youngest sister of
MARIE LLOYD; worked a double act with brother Sydney Wood (b 1 April
WILSON (fl1929-41 and 1945-9)
The Sailor &
JIMMY WHEELER and
Ernie Wilson (family name: Remnant). Frank Wheeler of the
original Wheeler & Wilson team died 29 February 1924,
and it would appear that some five years later `Wilson' revived the act
with his son.
Comedy in Cameo
This team comprised
the versatile Jack Le White (1912-1999) and his second wife Pauline
Fairchild. A son of the great HENRY WHITELEY, Mr Le White was
thoroughly trained in many of the circus disciplines as an acrobat,
tightrope walker, clown, and musician. In later life he became a
familiar figure on the nation's television screens as a capable
character actor, being especially remembered as Grandad in BBCtv'sThe
The Electric Scot
The Scotch Coon
repertoire of songs included The Football Match and Keep
On Doing It Sandy.
strangulated tenor, who was discovered as a £7 a week builder's
labourer, had the stage personality of a bollard. Mr Whitfield's
fortunes took a very swift downturn when the Great British Public was
apprised of his penchant for underage girls.
WHITLOCK, BILLY -
see PENROSE & WHITLOCK
WHYTE, MAVIS (fl
March 1955 this entry's photograph was stolen from a 'padlocked
showcase from the front of the Oldham Empire. She thinks it might be
connected witrh mysterious boxes of chocolates she had been received.'
The Sweet Singer
See JOHNNY COOPER
Queen of the Surf
The Evening Shadow
The Funniest Man in the World
Billed as such
at the Hippodrome, Brighton, 1928. Born in Philadelphia, Herbert
Schussler Billerbeck was renowned for his collapsing piano act.
Others similarly billed were WILKIE BARD, TOM BURKE, DAN LENO and
Comedian and Champion Clog-Dancer of the World
See DAN LENO, FRANK
RENNIE and VESTA VICTORIA for other claimants to clog dancing
Billed at the
Pleasure Gardens Folkestone in March 1947 as The Man About Town.
The Joke Salesman
See REG BOLTON
(LITTLE NELL) (1858-1923)
See SIFFLEURS &
WALKER - see WALKER & WILLIAMS
WILLS, NAT M.
The Happy Tramp
See C. E. EDWARDS
The Loose Nut
At one time teamed
with George Penter (1887-1924)
The Voice of
Mother was Monica
Empress of Euphony
Sam Collins' Only
Emma's uncle was
(1821-81) of Wilton's Music Hall, Stepney. Sam Collins (1827-65)
though a Londoner was a popular singer of Irish songs.
Peacock of Vaudeville
Don't Take Them
Noted on a bill for
the Royal Hippodrome, Dover, w/c 27 November 1939. Still working
WISER & WARD
All in Fun
See LESLIE ROME
& CONNIE LEONARD
(1915-98) was unquestionably the greatest crooner of the last century.
...and her Six
(& MARION) (fl1925-50s)
Husband & wife
team: Bobby (b1891) and Maryanna (b1902) Wright
WRIGHT, HAL (fl
WYNN, ED (1886-1966)
Referee and Topical Tipster
Wrote songs for his
wife Nellie Gannon (d. 30 January 1926), also for DAN LENO.
Clem Dawe and Tommy
Godfrey (d. 24 June 1984) also used this bill-matter.
X-RAYS, THE FIVE (fl
The Mad Athletes
Sketch troupe whose
personnel included Jack Clifton (founder) and his nephew Sam (b1898)
who later ran his own company as SAM LINFIELD. Jack Clifton also
ran The Six Ceylons. Clifton was the family name of The Bogannys
YOLANDAS, THE TWO
YORK, CHIC &
KING, ROSE (& CO)
Husband and wife
team: Chic (or Chick) York (1887-1969)
YORK, DORIS (d.
The Girl with the
The Charming Fool
a Mancunian Productions 1936 film called Dodging the Dole.
See ROY BARBOUR,
Children of the
YOUNG, JOE (b1887)
The Hot Dog of
With his own company
presented the famous sketch Buying A Theatre.
See WILL HATTON
& ETHEL MANNERS
See Tommy Fields
...and his Famous
See Sells &
The Comedy Juggler
The Human Chimney
Family name: Arthur
The Child of the
ZETTER, HARRY (fl
The Loose Man in
& BOOTH, WEBSTER
Husband & wife ballad-singing team: Irene Frances Eastwood
(1910-2003) and Webster Booth (1902-84). Sang their last duet, I'll
See You Again, in Llandudno, June