January 2, 2017


Stanley Holloway (1890-1982) b. London, England.

Stanley Holloway

East London-born Stanley Holloway was a popular member of any entertainment for more than 50 years, as early as 1907, he could be found as a member of a pier-end concert-party troupe in one of England’s east coast resorts. He remained with them for several years until snapped up by fellow-comedian Leslie Henson to feature in his rather more prestigious concert-party. During the war he enlisted in the Connaught Rangers. Immediately after World War One, he made his debut in West End musical comedy.

Stardom came as a prominent member of the long-running show The Co-Optimists. The show began in 1921, ran until 1927, and was filmed two years later. A second series of The Co-Optimists began in 1929, and with it Holloway’s series of monologues and concert songs that became hits world-wide, selling thousands of records. Holloway made sporadic film appearances during the 1930s, in between playing in stage revues and pantomimes, but the most popular phase of his movie career came when he was cast in the film of George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara (1941). In 1944, Holloway became established as a favourite character star with the British masses, tackling the Germans in The Way Ahead (1944), as the friendly neighbour in This Happy Breed (1944) and as the conceited Great Vance in the Victorian musical Champagne Charlie (1944).

His next two films were also blockbuster hits: The Way to the Stars (1945) and Brief Encounter (1945). He was co-starred with another famous monologist, Cyril Fletcher, in Nicholas Nickleby (1947), and played the gravedigger in Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948), before beginning a profitable association with Ealing Studios that saw him as an integral part of such comedy classics as Passport to Pimlico (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953). Ealing gave him his own vehicle in 1953, the star-studded Meet Mr Lucifer (1953), with Holloway doubling as the devil and a pantomime demon king. But it was less successful and he returned to top character roles. Holloway remained an active entertainer well into his eighties.

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