One hundred years ago today, one of the acknowledged greatest entertainers of vintage Music Hall theatre died. I refer of course to the great George Formby Senior as he is remembered today but of course in his life, he was George Formby. This wonderful character comedian died at the young age of forty-five succumbing to pulmonary tuberculosis at his home in Warrington after appearing in his last engagement at Newcastle Empire theatre.George Formby was as popular, perhaps even more so in his day, than his son. Famed music hall singer and actress, Marie Lloyd said she would only go to watch two acts in the West End, George Formby and Dan Leno.George Formby Senior is almost forgotten today but we remember him fondly in the GFS. You can read about the great man at this link. This page is just to note his passing one hundred years ago today, February 8th 1921.
George Formby Snr - Sailing
George Formby Snr - 1875 - 1921
The Times - 8 February 1921
Mr George Formby, the Lancashire comedian, died yesterday at Stockton Heath, near Warrington. His health had caused anxiety for some years, and he recently had to give up his part in the pantomime at Newcastle-on-Tyne. He had also broken down, while playing pantomimes during the Christmas seasons of 1919 and 1918. For a great part of his life he was troubled with a disease of the lungs. He fought it steadily and even made use of it in humorous items, but his condition had gradually grown worse and his death yesterday was not unexpected.Mr Formby was a music-hall comedian of the type that is rapidly disappearing. He described himself as “The Lad from Wigan” and it was in Lancashire and the North that he was especially popular. His droll Lancashire accent and his inimitable humour made him to the North of England what Sir Harry Lauder is to Scotland, but his humour was not so peculiarly local as to debar him from success in London and the South. He made his first appearance on stage in the provinces in 1899, and it was not long before he came to LondonHe appeared first at the London Pavilion, where he became an idol of the town and never looked back.His humour was often crude and always simple, but it was true humour and invariably clean. He relied chiefly on the simple song with a tuneful chorus, intersected by wedges of “patter”. Many of his songs are still remembered by the people to whom he sang them, and some of the titles have become catchwords even to people outside that circle. There cannot be very many people who have not heard at some time in their lives either the words or the refrain of “John Willie - Come On”., “One of the Boys”, “I Was Standing at the Corner of the Street” or “Playing the Game in the West”.Mr Formby was especially proud of the honour paid to him by the King and Queen when they commanded him to appear before them at Knowsley when they were staying there as the guests of Lord Derby. His broad humour succeeded with unexpected ease, and their Majesties praised him very highly after the performance. He was delighted, but so exhausted by his performance that he was unable to attend the dinner that was afterwards held in his honour to commemorate the evening.