Scottish Music Hall & Variety Theatre Society

The glorious days of Scottish Music Hall and Variety Theatre

They Played the Scottish Variety Theatre

 

Harry Lauder (1870 - 1950); Singer, comedian. Born in Portobello, he entered various talent contests and charity shows as a schoolboy. After seeing the great music hall comedian Dan Leno appear at the Glasgow Empire singing English songs, he thought he would try London singing Scottish songs.

Harry first appeared in London in 1900 within a few years he was touring America and was regarded internationally as the most successful artiste the variety stage had ever known. Harry became the first knight of the Music Hall in 1919 for his services to the theatre, and especially for his work entertaining the troops in the trenches during the First World War as a Wartime Entertainer.

 

Scottish Comedian Will Fyffe (1885 - 1947) Character actor and comedian. Born in Dundee and toured in "Penny-Geggies" - which were troupes of travelling players in Shakespearian productions and melodrama. During his long career he appeared in the 1922 Royal variety Performance, he was famous for the song "I Belong to Glasgow" and numerous character studies including "I'm ninety-four today".

Will was a natural pantomime performer and from 1941 was partnered by Harry Gordon for a notable series of 6 consecutive pantomimes at the Alhambra Theatre, Glasgow. Will bought a hotel in St Andrews and died suddenly there. His own room was two storeys above ground level. To this day we are unsure what happened, but Will's body was found below the balcony. He had been killed outright, it was a known fact that he had been suffering from some ear trouble for a number of years. It was possible that he had fallen due to his balance being affected. One thing was sure that after his death the Scottish variety theatre had lost a very talented and wonderful comedian.
 
Walter Carr was born on 26th December 1925, and from a very young age Walter was an active member in various groups in his home town of Prestwick. In 1947 he joined the repertory company the "Wilson Barrett Players" and from there Walter went on to become one of Scotland's best-known comedy and character actors.

His love for live theatre ensured that he would spend 55 years of his life as a leading member of the acting profession, becoming a top Dame in pantomime as well as a strong feed and foil to the star Glasgow comedian Lex McLean, where he featured in 24 half-hour Lex McLean programmes made by BBC Scotland from 1968 to 1972. Also during this time he appeared in the long running BBC Scotland comedy "The Vital Spark" playing Dougie the Mate. He also was a stalwart of the famous "Pitlochry Festival", and appeared in many seasons over the years. Walter died from Cancer on 30th May 1998.
 
 
 
Jack Milroy MBE, born in Glasgow. Made his name in the summer seasons at the Tivoli theatre, Aberdeen, as a solo comic in "Whirl of Laughter", from 1950 - 1952. During the run of this show he met and married Mary Lee singer with the famous Roy Fox Band. In 1953, they both starred on a 22 week Tivoli "Whirl" season and this success began a wonderful stage partnership which lasted over 40 years.

Jack also became a regular comedian at the Gaiety theatre Ayr with the famous Popplewell "Gaiety Whirl" and then became a firm favourte of the Glasgow audiences in his role as Glasgow wideboy "Francie" to Rikki Fulton's "Josie", in the comedy duo "Francie and Josie". The made their first appearance in 1960 and their double act has since become one of the most famous and celebrated of the Scottish variety theatre.  Jack Milroy died in February 2001.