George’s leading ladies
Star of I DIDN'T DO IT, 1945 by Eleanor Dugan Pretty Marjorie Browne had been a popular singer-dancer for 18 years when she appeared in I Didn't Do It, but, as was usual for George's later co-stars, she was denied a single song or dance. However, she does go down in history as the only Formby leading lady who got to play George's uke! Just a few butter-fingered chords, of course. "Oh, I could never learn how to do that," she says, "You have to use two fingers at the same time." Which is the perfect cue for George to retrieve his uke and sing, "She's Got Two of Everything." Marjorie plays "Betty Dickson," a pretty resident of a theatrical boarding house where stage struck George takes up residence. Her particular performing skill is never specified, and her part is so small that her lines could easily have been assigned to any of the male actors. Only a brief sequence of thumb-twirling embarrassment by George hints that romance might be in the (very distant) future. "Marshie," as Marjorie's family called her, was a Lancashire lass. She was born Florence Marjorie Brown in Manchester on March 13, 1910, daughter of Charles Evelyn Brown and his wife, Aida Lowther Heyes, a singer and music teacher from a theatrical family. (As was common in those youth-fixated days, Marjorie's birth year was moved up to 1913 in later publicity profiles.) She was educated at Lowther College, Rhuddlan, Wales, and Auteuil, Paris. As a teenager, she appeared in several pantomimes for Tom Arnold at the Manchester Palace, either as Principal Boy or Girl. Reportedly, she was also an extra in the 1926 silent film Nell Gwynne, which starred Dorothy Gish. Her first professional London stage appearance was as one of C.B. Cochran's famous and highly decorative Young Ladies in One Darn Thing After Another in 1927. During the run, her uncle made a bet with a colleague that if he asked at the stage door for the most beautiful young lady in the company, he would be taken directly to Marjorie. He won the bet. Next was This Year of Grace in 1928. In Wake Up and Dream the following year, both Marjorie and another Formby leading lady, Polly Ward, understudied the star Jessie Matthews. Because Jessie was a fragile creature, Marjorie got to play her role for extended periods of time in London and toured with the show in 1930. In 1931, she toured as the Countess Stasi in The Gipsy Princess, and her credits during the early thirties include Jill in Mother Goose at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham, 1932, and the Princess in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Drury Lane, 1934. In 1934, she played Maud Dane in Sporting Love at the Gaiety Theatre, London. She toured during 1936 as Angela in Tulip Time and in December of that year played the Princess in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow. The West End saw her again in 1937 playing the ingénue lead, Frankie Fayne, in Rodgers and Hart's On Your Toes at the Coliseum, and Lady Mary Drew in Crazy Days at the Shaftesbury. That same year she was in the film Lassie from Lancashire, directed by John Paddy Carstairs. With the onset of World War II, Marjorie was busier than ever. She made another film in 1940, Laugh It Off, with Tommy Trinder. In July of that year, she opened in the lead of a Chu Chin Chow revival at the Palace Theatre, repeating the role again in a revival of the revival in July 1941. Christmases found her playing Principal Boy or Girl in pantomime at the Alhambra, Glasgow where she was a firm favourite or in Liverpool, Leeds, or Birmingham. Still, Marjorie found time for romance. In 1941, she married [Charles] Trevor Reeve, an ambitious young barrister five years her junior. He had been commissioned in the 10th Royal Hussars the year before and continued to serve throughout the war, becoming a Major. It was a union destined to last until death did them part, and they were described as "deeply devoted." Reeve even took dancing lessons so he could hold his own with his wife on the dance floor. With Reeve away in the Hussars, Marjorie continued to perform. In 1942, she played the title role in Rose Marie at the Stoll Theatre and toured with the show during 1942 and 1943. Her later tours included Loo Loo Martin in Hit the Deck (1944) and Greta in Good Night, Vienna (1946). Between these two final stage appearances, she played George Formby's romantic interest in I Didn't Do It. When her husband returned to the legal profession after the war, Marjorie left show business and became the dedicated wife of a rising barrister. Reeve was knighted in 1973, making his wife Lady Reeve. He subsequently served as Judge of the High Court of Justice, Family Division, from 1973 to 1988. Marjorie Browne died October 21, 1990, aged 80. Her beloved husband followed her three years later. In a reminiscence, Marjorie's younger cousin, Joy Launor Heyes, described her as "by name and nature a true lady of the 'old school' of the theatre. Elegant, beautiful, charming, and witty to the end, Marjorie, Lady Reeve, will be greatly missed." STAGE ROLES 1927 - One Darn Thing After Another 1928-29 - This Year of Grace 1929-30 - Wake Up and Dream 1931 - The Gipsy Princess 1932 - Mother Goose (Birmingham) 1934 - Sporting Love 1934 - Jack and the Beanstalk 1936 - Jack and the Beanstalk (Glasgow) 1936 - Tulip Time (tour) 1937 - On Your Toes 1937 - Crazy Days 1940 & 1941 - Chu-Chin-Chow (revivals) 1941-43 - Rose Marie (revival) 1944 - Hit the Deck (tour) 1946 - Good Night, Vienna (tour) FILMS: 1926 - Nell Gwynne 1938 - Lassie from Lancashire 1940 - Laugh It Off 1945 - I Didn't Do It
Marjorie Browne
George’s leading ladies
Star of I DIDN'T DO IT, 1945 by Eleanor Dugan Pretty Marjorie Browne had been a popular singer-dancer for 18 years when she appeared in I Didn't Do It, but, as was usual for George's later co-stars, she was denied a single song or dance. However, she does go down in history as the only Formby leading lady who got to play George's uke! Just a few butter-fingered chords, of course. "Oh, I could never learn how to do that," she says, "You have to use two fingers at the same time." Which is the perfect cue for George to retrieve his uke and sing, "She's Got Two of Everything." Marjorie plays "Betty Dickson," a pretty resident of a theatrical boarding house where stage struck George takes up residence. Her particular performing skill is never specified, and her part is so small that her lines could easily have been assigned to any of the male actors. Only a brief sequence of thumb-twirling embarrassment by George hints that romance might be in the (very distant) future. "Marshie," as Marjorie's family called her, was a Lancashire lass. She was born Florence Marjorie Brown in Manchester on March 13, 1910, daughter of Charles Evelyn Brown and his wife, Aida Lowther Heyes, a singer and music teacher from a theatrical family. (As was common in those youth-fixated days, Marjorie's birth year was moved up to 1913 in later publicity profiles.) She was educated at Lowther College, Rhuddlan, Wales, and Auteuil, Paris. As a teenager, she appeared in several pantomimes for Tom Arnold at the Manchester Palace, either as Principal Boy or Girl. Reportedly, she was also an extra in the 1926 silent film Nell Gwynne, which starred Dorothy Gish. Her first professional London stage appearance was as one of C.B. Cochran's famous and highly decorative Young Ladies in One Darn Thing After Another in 1927. During the run, her uncle made a bet with a colleague that if he asked at the stage door for the most beautiful young lady in the company, he would be taken directly to Marjorie. He won the bet. Next was This Year of Grace in 1928. In Wake Up and Dream the following year, both Marjorie and another Formby leading lady, Polly Ward, understudied the star Jessie Matthews. Because Jessie was a fragile creature, Marjorie got to play her role for extended periods of time in London and toured with the show in 1930. In 1931, she toured as the Countess Stasi in The Gipsy Princess, and her credits during the early thirties include Jill in Mother Goose at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham, 1932, and the Princess in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Drury Lane, 1934. In 1934, she played Maud Dane in Sporting Love at the Gaiety Theatre, London. She toured during 1936 as Angela in Tulip Time and in December of that year played the Princess in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow. The West End saw her again in 1937 playing the ingénue lead, Frankie Fayne, in Rodgers and Hart's On Your Toes at the Coliseum, and Lady Mary Drew in Crazy Days at the Shaftesbury. That same year she was in the film Lassie from Lancashire, directed by John Paddy Carstairs. With the onset of World War II, Marjorie was busier than ever. She made another film in 1940, Laugh It Off, with Tommy Trinder. In July of that year, she opened in the lead of a Chu Chin Chow revival at the Palace Theatre, repeating the role again in a revival of the revival in July 1941. Christmases found her playing Principal Boy or Girl in pantomime at the Alhambra, Glasgow where she was a firm favourite or in Liverpool, Leeds, or Birmingham. Still, Marjorie found time for romance. In 1941, she married [Charles] Trevor Reeve, an ambitious young barrister five years her junior. He had been commissioned in the 10th Royal Hussars the year before and continued to serve throughout the war, becoming a Major. It was a union destined to last until death did them part, and they were described as "deeply devoted." Reeve even took dancing lessons so he could hold his own with his wife on the dance floor. With Reeve away in the Hussars, Marjorie continued to perform. In 1942, she played the title role in Rose Marie at the Stoll Theatre and toured with the show during 1942 and 1943. Her later tours included Loo Loo Martin in Hit the Deck (1944) and Greta in Good Night, Vienna (1946). Between these two final stage appearances, she played George Formby's romantic interest in I Didn't Do It. When her husband returned to the legal profession after the war, Marjorie left show business and became the dedicated wife of a rising barrister. Reeve was knighted in 1973, making his wife Lady Reeve. He subsequently served as Judge of the High Court of Justice, Family Division, from 1973 to 1988. Marjorie Browne died October 21, 1990, aged 80. Her beloved husband followed her three years later. In a reminiscence, Marjorie's younger cousin, Joy Launor Heyes, described her as "by name and nature a true lady of the 'old school' of the theatre. Elegant, beautiful, charming, and witty to the end, Marjorie, Lady Reeve, will be greatly missed." STAGE ROLES 1927 - One Darn Thing After Another 1928-29 - This Year of Grace 1929-30 - Wake Up and Dream 1931 - The Gipsy Princess 1932 - Mother Goose (Birmingham) 1934 - Sporting Love 1934 - Jack and the Beanstalk 1936 - Jack and the Beanstalk (Glasgow) 1936 - Tulip Time (tour) 1937 - On Your Toes 1937 - Crazy Days 1940 & 1941 - Chu-Chin-Chow (revivals) 1941-43 - Rose Marie (revival) 1944 - Hit the Deck (tour) 1946 - Good Night, Vienna (tour) FILMS: 1926 - Nell Gwynne 1938 - Lassie from Lancashire 1940 - Laugh It Off 1945 - I Didn't Do It
Marjorie Browne