Sunday, November 20, 2005

Stanley Holloway



Stanley Holloway (born Stanley Augustus Holloway) was born on the 1st October 1890 in London, England, UK and died on the 30th January 1982 in Littlehampton, England, UK.

"He tried to make a go of his first job as a clerk in a Billingsgate fish market, but the call of the theatre was loud and strong. Originally planning an operatic career, Holloway studied singing in Milan, but this came to an end when World War One began. Finishing up his service with the infantry, Holloway headed for the stage again, making his London premiere in 1919's Kissing Time. His first film was The Rotters (1921), and the first time the public outside the theatres heard his robust voice was on radio in 1923. Holloway toured the music hall-revue circuit with his comic monologues, usually centered around his self-invented characters "Sam Small" and "The Ramsbottoms."

Holloway's entree into talking pictures was with a 1930 film version of his stage success, The Co-Optimist. The British film industry of the '30s was more concerned in turning out "quota quickies" so that Hollywood would send over an equal number of American films, but Holloway was able to survive in these cheap pictures, occasionally rising to the heights of such productions as Squibs (1935) and The Vicar of Bray (1937). In 1941, Holloway was cast in one of the prestige films of the season, George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara; this led to top-drawer film appearances throughout the war years, notably This Happy Breed (1944), The Way to the Stars (1945) and Brief Encounter (1947). Though he'd had minimal Shakespearian experience, Holloway was selected by Laurence Olivier to play the Gravedigger in Olivier's filmization of Hamlet (1947), a role he'd forever be associated with and one he'd gently parody in 1969's Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.

Gaining an American audience through repeated showings of his films on early-'50s TV, Holloway took New York by storm as Alfred P. Doolittle in the stage smash My Fair Lady - a role he'd repeat in the 1964 film version (after James Cagney had turned it down), and win an Oscar in the bargain.

Continuing his activities in all aspects of British show business -- including a 1960 one-man show, Laughs and Other Events -- Holloway decided he'd take a whack at American TV as the butler protagonist of the 1962 sitcom Our Man Higgins. It's difficult to ascertain the quality of this series, since it had the miserable luck of being scheduled opposite the ratings-grabbing Beverly Hillbillies.

Stanley Holloway perservered with stage, movie, and TV appearances into the '70s; in honor of one of his two My Fair Lady songs, he titled his 1981 autobiography Wiv a Little Bit of Luck."

Stanley Holloway - Any Old Iron?

Stanley Holloway - Wot Cher!

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4 comments:

spice-the-cat said...

I remember hearing 'Albert & The Lion' when I was a kid - and another one which I think was about a funeral - 'Brown Boots' - if I remember correctly.

Nice nostalgic memories - thanks for that.

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michael said...

Yes, "Brown Boots" is one of my favourites too of Stanley's monologues of which he did many. Another good one is "My Word You Do Look Queer".
Glad these brought back some happy memories.

Cocaine Jesus said...

'Any Old Iron' of course and 'Wiv a little bit of luck' but didn't he do 'Brown Boots' and the brilliant @Oh you do look Ill' (if that was the title?

michael said...

He is mostly remembered for his monologues which I think are rather dull and samey for the most part though I do like "Braaaan Boots" and "With Is 'ead Tucked Underneath 'is Arm" ( he walked the Bloody Tower)!