George Hoy

There are many books and articles covering the Formby story but this page will concentrate on the much lesser known George Hoy. This was the name George decided to bill himself as, when he first decided to take to the stage after his father's death in 1921. George at this time would have been around 16 or 17 years old and had spent most of his life as a apprentice-jockey.

Much is written about George never having ridden a winner but he must have been a reasonable jockey as he did ride 42 horses into second place.

The reason why George took the name of Hoy when he first started his stage career was because
Hoy was his mother's maiden name and it was also GF's second christian name.

In the Alan Randal/Ray Seaton book "George Formby - An Autobiography" the authors state that, "When they were satisfied he was ready, a try-out performance was arranged at Harrison’s Picture House, in Earlstown, between Wigan and Warrington. Accepting Harry Lauder’s advice not to follow a famous name, he was introduced as George Hoy, taking his mother’s maiden name, by which he was also christened. The reason for this, as he explained in later years, was that he did not want to trade on his father’s fame and reputation. Actually, this was a contradiction, for he was performing his father’s act and basing his entire repertoire on his father’s songs. If not trading on his reputation, he was relying on what had gone into building it. And why not? Even Charlie Chaplin, as a 16-year-old, had imitated Formby Snr, who twirled a cane in his song, ‘One of the Boys’."

George's first performances on stage were hardly the shape of things to come!

"There was little or no resemblance between the raw performer who shuffled nervously on stage with the downcast eyes for his first debut in Earlstown and the relaxed performer of later years. His eyes were lowered and almost apologetically he began his act, scarcely audible beyond the first few rows. Someone in the audience called, ‘Go on, George, you’re a chip off the old block!’

It seems that but for his father's high reputation George would have really struggled but there were some theatre managers who did take a chance on him purely because of their regard for George Formby Senior.
J. D. Clarke, manager of the Palace Theatre, Birkenhead decided initially to give George a week's work, but then he rewarded him with a contract to appear in his shows over the next five years. Apparently it was the custom in those days for a theatre to book a artist for one week, five and even ten years in advance.

"Before he topped the bill at the Palace, Burley, fifteen months later, George Jnr had long ‘rest’ periods, when he could not get any work. The consensus was ‘All right, but not as good as his father."

In effect, George was really a pale imitation of his more famous father, dressing in his dad's clothes
and making up in his father's image. Listening to father's records and then to George's first efforts,
you would find it hard to tell the difference.

It was only when George picked up a ukulele and then had the good fortune to meet a lady called Beryl, that his future and his fortune really changed.