“Turned Out Nice Again” George Formby

George is a lad after our own hearts – as homely “as they mak ‘em.”

By 1939, George Formby was the most popular and highest paid entertainer in the British Isles and was estimated to be earning over £100,000 a year.

The secret of his success was a unique combination of personality, natural ability and talent coupled with the driving force of his wife, Beryl as his Manager. With his natural human warmth and friendliness, George could hold a live audience in the palm of his hand as he sang and played the ukulele in his own inimitable style. He seemed to have the ability to make people enjoy what he did, and his audiences always called for more.

George  booked into the Midland Hotel with his wife Beryl, when he  performed at the Alhambra Theatre from 23rd to 28th September, 1940.

In the hotel lounge area, there is a memorial  plaque dedicated to George,  kindly donated by a fan and member of the “George Formby Society”  http://www.georgeformby.co.uk/

The Telegraph & Argus articles relating to George’s appearance in Bradford in 1940 are transcribed below.

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Bradford, Telegraph & Argus,  September 24, 1940

ENTERTAINMENT GUIDE

FORMBY HUMOUR AS BRADFORD TONIC.

Hundreds of Bradford people apparently got the very tonic they needed at the Alhambra Theatre last night, when George Formby, the famous film, stage gramophone, and radio star, kept two packed houses rocking with laughter.

George is a lad after our own hearts – as homely “as they mak ‘em.” His infectious grin, quaint Lancashire voice, and general air of cheerful idiocy make their own appeal, and what an appeal it is!

Rarely has one heard such applause, appreciative whistles, and demands for encores as he received, and he responded to these encores in the second half of the programme, when he appeared before the mike with his celebrated “uke”.

Many of his favourite hits were demanded including “Mr Wu”, “When I’m Cleaning Windows” and “I’m Leaning On The Lamp-post”.

George brings a splendid company of artists to support him, including his wife Beryl.

The show opens with that magician of the xylo-rumbaphone, Reg Redcliffe and other talented acts are those of Terry Wilson (comedy and character impressionist), Terina (paper-tearing) Noni and Nita (The Anglo- French clown and partner) and the Whirling Tornadoes (rolling skating acrobats).

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STAGE TALK BY MR DANGLE

Bradford, Telegraph & Argus

One of Britain’s Biggest Tonics.

The packed houses at the Alhambra last Monday reminded me of an occasion at the Bradford Empire, 25 years ago next month.

I was seeking copy for my first article as “Mr. Dangle” and George Formby, father of the present George, was topping the bill there.

There was a house filled to capacity, but when I called upon George he could not talk to me. “Nay, lad,” he said, “I can’t talk tonight: I really ought not to be going on, but when I saw the house I couldn’t disappoint my public.”

And so it proved, for I found there was a doctor in attendance, and also a block of ice in the dressing room ready for any emergency. It was generally admitted George Formby had never been better, for he did not let the public see how near he was to collapse.

I saw him later in the week, and we became good friends. Knowing what I did of what was going on behind the scenes made George a hero in my eyes from that Monday night.

GEORGE junior is as just as conscientious, and always anxious to give full measure to the public. He is the highest paid of British stage and film stars, but is not in the least swell-headed, nor has he much room for people who became so.

He and his wife Beryl, live their own lives in quiet fashion and in a beautiful home near Blackpool, altogether unspoiled by the stir they have made in the world.

George and his wife have been making a short variety tour of three weeks, which will end on Saturday, after which they will devote themselves entirely to entertaining the Forces and munitions workers. They will appear in camps, hospitals, factories etc.

They started this idea when they went to France, and they intend to go on with it. They are working harder than they have done in their lives. Last week they were in Liverpool, and slipped up to Glasgow for a charity concert, on Sunday part of the proceeds of which were for George’s own fund – the Formby Fund, in aid of the widows and children of those who have lost their lives in trawlers while minesweeping, etc.

It was George’s intention to keep out of the pantomime this season, but there will be a shortage of comedians, so he is going into one of Tom Arnold’s shows. Tom left the choice to George, and he has selected Liverpool because he says the manner in which the people of that city have stood up to recent events makes him want to be among them and joke with them.

I always enjoy the work of Noni, who is a typical French clown. He comes of an old circus family, and in his youth his mother wanted him to be a straight comedy actor; his father wanted him to be a musician; and he himself wanted to be a strong man in the circus.

In the end he was allowed to have his own way, with the result he became all three, for he could play a comedy part in a straight play, and he could even put on a strong man act, while you know what a good musician he is.

An indefatigable worker on behalf of the Forces is Jonny Hawkridge, stage manager at the Alhambra. He is stage managing from Monday to Saturday at the Alhambra, and on Sundays he presents his own show “The Highlights of Variety” at various camps and hospitals throughout the North.