Tommy Cooper in World War 2

“I got the military cross. Mind you, I got the Navy a bit annoyed as well!” is just one of those classic one liners from the legendary Tommy Cooper,

He was one of my all time favourite comedians, and despite what people may think he actually was a talented magician. But there is so much more to the man.

He was born on the 19th of March 1921, at 19 Llwyn On Street, Trecenydd in Caerphilly, Wales . His father was a Welshman, , was as a recruiting sergeant for the British army, later coal miner . His mother, Gertrude, was English, coming from Crediton in Devon. The Coopers did not own the house but were merely lodging there. Apparently, in those pre-maternity hospital days, Tommy was born at home and the owner of the house acted as the midwife for the birth. To escape from the heavily polluted air of Caerphilly, Tommy’s dad accepted a new job and the family moved to Exeter, Devon, when Cooper was three.

In 1940 he was called up as a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards. He joined Montgomery’s Desert Rats in Egypt.

After a short while, his reconnaissance unit was sent to North Africa working in conjunction with armoured cars and tanks. He then lost his A1 rating after he received a gunshot wound to his left arm. This allowed him to audition, with great success, for the army concert party.

He became the Horse Guards boxing champion, he was so good that he was offered a contract to turn pro.​

While serving, he travelled to Egypt and began to develop his act incorporating the now iconic trademark fez.​
His famous red fez was introduced rather luckily during a NAAFI concert. The concert took place in a Y.M.C.A. in Cairo. Tommy was going to wear his pith helmet but he had somehow mislaid it. Quick as a flash he “borrowed” an Egyptian waiter’s hat instead. during the audition, his trick went wrong. But the panel were in hysterics and said that should be his act.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

His life ended tragically though. On April 15 1984 he died in front of a live television audience.

The comedian was performing on the London Weekend Television show called Live From Her Majesty’s. While on stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Westminster, London, he slumped down and subsequently collapsed.

Initially the host assumed it was part of the act and so did the audience. The audience erupted in laughter assuming it was all part of the joke. After his initial collapse, he slowly fell back onto the stage curtains.

However, the show’s director recognised something was very wrong, and switched to an unplanned break. Tommy was pulled from the curtains and efforts were attempted to revive him backstage. He was pronounced dead at arrival at Westminster Hospital.

But the show continued, and Les Dennis and Dustin Gee were two of the proceeding acts.

Although I did not go into the comedy of Tommy Cooper in this blog. I could not end it without one of his famous gags. “Spoon, Jar, Jar, Spoon”



sources

https://www.entertainmentdaily.co.uk/tv/did-tommy-cooper-die-on-stage-and-how-old-was-he/

https://www.tommy-cooper.com/horse-guards

Interview with Ferne Pearlstein- Director of “the Last Laugh”

 

This is the interview I did with Ferne Pearlstein , director,writer and producer of “the Last Laugh”

A documentary where world-famous comedians including Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, and Gilbert Gottfried pitch in with their own views on the boundaries of comedy.

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https://www.imdb.com/video/vi1303361817?ref_=tt_pv_vi_aiv_2

Cello with one string.

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Among all the horror stories from the Holocaust, every once in a while a positive story pops up. .

I actually got side tracked,I was researching the WWII years of Dutch entertainer, Rudi Carrell, when the name of Abraham Bueno de Mesquita came up. He was better known as  Bueno de Mesquita and he had worked together with Rudi Carrell in Germany in the 60s and 70s.

Most Dutch people of my age and older would have known  Bueno de Mesquita as a comedian and entertainer. He performed in many variety shows with Dutch artists like Rita Corita and the comedic duo the Mounties and the aforementioned Rudi Carrell.

What most people will not know is that Bueno de Mesquita’s talents more then likely saved his life.

During  World War II,  Bueno de Mesquita who was a Dutch Sephardi Jew had been  imprisoned in the Dossin Barracks in Mechelen, Belgium.Also known as SS-Sammellager Mecheln, which was a was a detention and deportation camp.

Mechelen

Bueno de Mesquita was scheduled to be deported to Auschwitz. But as fate would have it the camp commander was looking for musicians and artists . Bueno was selected because of  ability to even play a one string cello , that together  with his  comic  talents saved him from deportation and more then likely his life.

He went on to become a successful entertainer and was one of the first TV stars on Dutch television, already in 1952 he made his first appearance on TV.

In some of the sketches he would play a waiter very much based on the character Manuel from Fawlty Towers,and was played by Andrew Sachs. Bueno and Andrew did look like each other.

 

He wrote an autobiography titled Cello met één snaar (Cello with one string).

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Oliver Hardy

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When you think of a comedy duo the first pair that comes to mind is Laurel $ Hardy, they were and still are ,without a shadow of a doubt the most successful comedy double act of all time.

However these 2 were not always a duo, they both had long established careers before they teamed up together. On the 127th birthday of Oliver Hardy it is a good opportunity to look back at some of his work as a ‘solo’ act.

Ollie started in dozens of movies prior to his Laurel & Hardy year .His first movie was  a 1914  short movie called “Outwitting Dad”

In 1915-1916 he made films for the Vim Comedy Company in Jacksonville, for the Vim Comedy Company.He was billed as ‘Babe’ Hardy.

baba

In 1917, he moved to L.A. working as a freelancer for several Hollywood studios, and he made more than 40 films for Vitagraph between 1918 and 1923, mostly playing the “heavy” for Larry Semon.

Strangely enough he did team up for a movie with Stan Laurel before they became the legendary duo.. The movie was the 1921 short film “The Lucky Dog”

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During his time as part of Laurel & Hardy he did make a few movies without his comedic partner.

In 1949 he teamed up with another and even bigger Hollywood legend.No other then Marion Robert Morrison aka John Wayne was the acting partner of Oliver Hardy in the lighthearted Western

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A biopic about Oliver Hardy and Laurel Hardy is currently showing in cinema’s worldwide. Stan & Ollie a heart-warming story of what would become the pair’s triumphant farewell tour. Both men truly deserve the title Legend because they just don’t come any bigger that them.

Happy Birthday Mr Hardy

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

IMDb

 

Brats-Laurel and Hardy were so ahead of their time.

brats

I know I have written about Laurel and Hardy before but now with the biopic of their lives in cinemas across the world, I was reminded how brilliant they were.

Unlike their contemporaries like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy’s humor stayed fresh and still appeals to audiences nowadays.

Perhaps this is because they were so ahead of their time. Not only in cinematographic technical aspects but also in modern social settings. Nothing illustrates this more then the movie Brats.

The short movie is about 2 dads playing  checkers and snooker, minding their children, while the wife are out on the town.Just think about that for a minute,today that would not be a big deal, but in 1930 it most definitely was.

Even when you look at the special effects, Laurel and Hardy not only play the dads but also the boys they are minding. Using  over-sized props to give the impression of kids into everything from a bathtub to a wooden chest of drawers. Each room of the house was re-created on a  large scale to achieve the effect of both duos being in the same house.

The movie is only 23 minutes long but it has so many hilarious scenes. I must have seen it 100s of times but it never bores me.

Ending up with my favourite line from the movie” You can lead a horse to water but a pencil must be led”

 

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The WWII efforts of Laurel and Hardy

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I grew up watching Laurel and Hardy movies, and to this day I still watch them. Where the comedy of some of the other 1920/30s comedians dated, the comedy of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy stayed fresh.

What many people don’t know is that during WWII,Laurel and Hardy did contribute to the WWII efforts.

In 1942 the comic duo starred in a short film commissioned by the  U. S. Department of Agriculture and distributed by the U.S. Forest Service, featuring Laurel and Hardy, with narration read by MGM announcer and producer Pete Smith.

The film was called “The Tree in a Test tube”

The movie was made to raise awareness to  preserve and use domestic wood sparingly to help in the war efforts.

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They were a;so part of the Hollywood Victory caravan a two-week cross-country railroad journey in 1942 that brought together two dozen film stars to raise money for the Army and Navy Relief Society.

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The Hollywood Victory Caravan show was partially inspired by an all-star war bond show at Madison Square Garden on March 10, 1942 which was done for Navy Relief and organized by Walter Winchell. Plans were then made for a nationwide tour by Hollywood stars. The Santa Fe Railroad donated the use of a special train and this had up to fourteen railroad cars which had facilities for rehearsals on board with two portable dance floors, two pianos and ten musicians. Setting off from Los Angeles on April 26, 1942, it traveled to Washington DC where the stars went to a White House Tea Party at the invitation of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on April 30 before opening their musical revue extravaganza that night at 8:30 p.m. at Loew’s Capitol. The total “on stage” troupe for opening night consisted of 75 people.

Hollywood-Victory-Caravan

They may not have fired guns but with their own theater shows and movies they brought laughter in a very bleak era.

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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