Scottish Music Hall & Variety Theatre Society

The glorious days of Scottish Music Hall and Variety Theatre

A Tribute to Jimmy Logan OBE.

Jimmy Logan (James Allan Short), actor-manager and comedian; born, 4 April 1928; died 13 April 2001.
 
Jimmy Logan, in a career that spanned over six decades, shared triumphs and setbacks, sorrow and laughter, as he followed, good trouper, in the theatrical footsteps of his vaudeville parents. His family, in the 1930s and 40's toured the little music-halls of Scotland and Northern Ireland. Reared almost in the proverbial backstage trunk, the boy Jim was one of five children billed with his parent Jack Short and May Dalziel as the Logan Family.

At seven he was cheekily selling programmes in a summer show which his father ran in Northern Ireland; at 12 he was in a wartime charity show with Sir Harry Lauder, the legendary Scot who became his idol. I well remember the long-gone little Metropole music-hall in Glasgow and forecasting a bright future for teenage Jim, then 19. Two years later he was jumping delightedly over the moon when he landed a contract for the feature film "Floodtide" (starring with Gordon Jackson).

Little did he know, in 1947, that his eventual triumph would be "Lauder - The Golden Years", a one man musical which he was to stage three decades later at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, before Princess Alexandra, and then take on tour to South Africa and Australia; the impresario honours were shared in that show, incidentally, with a youthful Cameron MacKintosh. Some 20 years later, for Millenium Year, Jimmy was to hone and polish his one-man play and make it, at the prestigious Pitlochry Festival Theatre in Perthshire, quite the best thing he had ever done.

NOT A DRY EYE

When Jimmy closed the first half with the scene in which Lauder; on stage in London, gets a telegram telling of his only son's death in World War 1; there was scarcely a dry eye out front, and standing ovations became the rule. During the run in summer and autumn of 2000, Jimmy kept a sad secret, sharing it only with his wife Angela and his producer Clive Perry. He was diagnosed
as having inoperable cancer and like the professional he was, decided to keep the news under wraps until the season ended and he started chemotherapy.

His long career, from 1948 to 200, covered the homespun Scottish variety scene of the 1940s through radio, TV, comedy films, he became part of the official Edinburgh Festival in 1993 when he produced and appeared in an all-Scottish entertaiment, mixing the modern with the traditional, and giving his contemporaries from the variety sector an opportunity to show their talent
in a prestigious arts junket previously denied them. A long-time champion of Scotland's light entertainment performers, he rightly claimed they got little if any support from the Scottish Arts Council. Time and time again he hammered that theme, citing the Council's alleged hostility to variety an an art.
 
A KIND HEART
 
Kind-hearted and ever ready to help charity, he cherished the welfare of fellow performers, he was past President of the Scottish Show-Business Benevolent Fund,a member of the Grand Order of Water Rats and was always on hand to speak a sincere eulogy at the funeral of a fellow-actor. He spoke so many of these orations that he once joked: "I wonder who's going to deliver mine?" An instance of his thoughtfulness was his annual drive on Christmas Eve to a nursing-home in Edinburgh where he collected a veteran musical clown to be an honoured guest at his own home on the west coast.

Jimmy was awarded an OBE in 1996 for services to Scottish Theatre, an occasion which reminded him that one of his earliest meetings with Royalty had been to entertain two young Princesses and their mother at a castle in Fife. In private life, sadness came with divorces from, in turn, Grace Pagan, daughter of a music-hall act; Gina Fratini, Dress designer; and Pamela Donald, a marriage in which DNA testing was publicly reavealed as proof that the twins he believed were his first children had been fathered by another man. Nobody could have suffered a harder knock.

Fortunately, marital happiness came finally in 1989 when he married Angela, a lady who was to prove a truly devoted wife and companion in the final years of his life and career. it was a full life, one that was -- to quote his hero Sir Harry Lauder - "Filled with joy and sorrow, too". A life of showbiz tours and travels, tinged with too much sadness amid the happiness of making other laugh.
 
THE PIPER'S FAREWELL
 
Twelve pipers played as the coffin, draped with the blue and white St. Andrews banner of Scotland carried Logan from the historic Glasgow Cathedral after a standing room-only service. The Royal commentator and actor Tom Flemming spoke a memorable tribute along with emotion-filled eulogies by his sister Heather, Billy Connolly, Anne Fields, nephew and actor Dominick Allan and music from Fiona Kennedy and Alasdair Gilles.

Here is a piece of verse that Jimmy Logan wrote himself and delivered at a funeral service in Glasgow a few years ago:

Remember me - by the laughter, not the tears
Remember me - for the joy and fun we shared
through all the happy years
Please think of me, if you will, with a smile
When we all shared jokes - and laughed
At things we did a wee bit daft
If you smile - and if you laugh
sing songs, share fun and joy,
then I will join you in the toast
And think if you want to think of me
Lift up your glass so I can share
Enjoy yourselves
And I'll be there.