George Formby OBE 1904-1961

A brief account of the interesting life of one of Britain's foremost entertainers.

George Formby was born George Hoy Booth on the 26th May 1904. He was the son of one of the top music hall entertainers of the day. George Formby Snr was very interested in horses and was keen for young George to train as a jockey. To this end he was sent to Ireland to a racing stables to learn the skills of that trade. George reached a good standard but never actually won a race. As he got older it became clear that his height would conspire against any great success in the sport. The pressure emanating fom his father to continue came to an abrupt and tragic end when George Formby Snr succumbed to a chronic illness and died on the 8th February 1921 at the age of 45.

George was persuaded by his mother to continue in his father's footsteps and so at the tender age of 17 George made his first ever public stage performance at the Hippodrome Theatre Earlestown, near Newton-le-Willows Lancashire. He was not, it has to be said, an instant success but he persevered and by 1923, when he met the girl who would have such an influence on his life Beryl Ingham, he was progressing well.

Beryl was a clog dancer from Accrington. They married soon afterwards and so began a partnership which would ultimately take them to the very highest level in the entertainment business. George soon found that when it came to contract negotiations, his wife was more than a match for any of the theatre managers that they were to encounter from now on. Similarly Beryl began to pay close attention to the details of George's stage appearance and the refinement of his technique.

George made his first recording in 1926 but had to wait until 1932 until he had his first big hit. This was "Chinese Laundry Blues and quickly sold 100,000 copies. The ensuing publicity attracted the attention of the fledgling film industry, in particular that of John E. Blakely of Mancunian Films. George and Beryl were recruited to play the starring roles in a film called "Boots Boots" released in 1934. Although made on a relatively low budget it made a good profit and was soon followed up with another similar production "Off The Dole".

To be continued.......

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