Family Fortunes / Relative Values
As I prepare to write this year’s Kenneth More Theatre pantomime (It’s “Jack & The Beanstalk”, by the way!) which will be directed by my Brother Vivyan (Ellacott) I found myself thinking about other family connections within the small world of pantomime.
Later in this article I’ll take a look at today’s panto stars and their family connections- so if panto history isn’t your bag, I suggest you scroll down to” Today”- but for now, let’s start at the beginnings of pantomime:
Thinking back over the Golden Years of Pantomime, it was often the case that Panto folk appeared on stage with their husbands, wives, sons and daughters, or brothers and sisters.
The working relationship between Father and Son dates back further than the 1820’s, with Joseph Grimaldi appearing in pantomimes with his Father, and throughout the Victorian age there were many similar examples. Fred Evans at Drury Lane was followed by Will Evans (his son) Both as Dames.
Will Evans / Dan Leno Jnr / Arthur Conquest / Nipper Lupino Lane & Harry Lupino
Where available - Click on Image to Enlarge
Dan Leno’s son followed in his Father’s footsteps, and whole generations of families played Drury Lane- The infamous Vokes Family, The Conquest Family (mostly animal impersonators) and the Lupino Family. In later years Richard (“Mr Pastry”) Hearne appeared with his Father in early pantomimes before becoming the star of the Palladium.
The Vokes Family
The Honri Family have appeared in generations of pantomimes- Husband Percy and his Wife, Daughter Mary and Percy’s Grandson.
The Cairoli Family have become a pantomime institution: Charlie and his Father, Jean, then Charlie and Brother Philip, and, of course his Son- Charlie Cairoli Junior.
Marie Lloyd / Daisy Wood
Marie Lloyd’s sister Daisy Wood followed her famous sibling into Pantomime , Lottie Collins the music hall star begat Jose Collins, the Musical Star, and pantomime Brothers included The Griffith Brothers, Joe and Dave O’Gorman and George & Bert Bernard.
Music Hall Comedian Dick Henderson was the father of Variety and pantomime’s Dickie Henderson, as, in previous times Fred Emney, Pantomime Comedian of Drury Lane gave way to his son Fred Emney, with his characteristic monocle in many cameo and leading roles, who became a star of Farce and film
In later years Mike and Bernie Winters were real life brothers, while Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warris were cousins. The Family connection encompassed married couples as well:
Married stars like Seymour Hicks and Ellaline Terris appeared together, and there were Panto pairings like Dorothy Ward & Shaun Glenville, Husband and wife as Mother and son- Lucan & McShane- Old Mother Riley and her Daughter Kitty, and George and Beryl Formby.George Jnr (The Ukelele playing one) was the son of the Music Hall star George Formby Snr.
The Speciality for “Cinderella” between the wars was often “The Dresden Palace”, an adagio act performed by The Ganjou Brothers and Juanita, while Wilson & Kepple were cousins, the “Betty” in their famous sand dance “Cleopatra’s Nightmare” was also the Daughter of the original “Betty”!
Gracie Fields did not appear in pantomime (as far as I know) but her Brother did- often billed as “Gracie’s Little Brother”, Tommy Fields starred in many pantomimes- incidentally Gracie and Tommy were born Stansfield, and Lisa Stansfield (Who appeared in Panto at the Davenport Theatre, Stockport) is related to them!
Welsh comedienne Gladys Morgan often appeared with her Husband, Frank Laurie and Daughter Joan Laurie, along with Joan’s husband Bert Holman in pantomime and variety.
Other famous family connections in the 1940’s include Bob and Alf Pearson, Nat Mills and Bobbie, and Albert and Les Ward.
Ted and Barbara Andrews appeared in many pantomimes, and introduced their daughter Julie- now Dame Julie Andrews- to the world of Pantoland at a very young age.
Alex Munro appeared in and presented many pantomimes, often with his daughter Janet Munro who was to become a premier British Film Star.
Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson appeared in pantomime, as did Teddy’s brother Bryan Johnson- both shared the distinction of appearing in the early days of the Eurovision Song Contest- Pearl and Teddy with “Sing Little Birdie Sing” and Bryan “Looking High, High, High!”
Callum Kennedy in Scotland presented a television programme “Callum’s Kids” that featured many of his children- including Fiona Kennedy. Their family in turn is related to Jimmy Logan and his family- a rich family panto tradition North of the border.
Throughout the War Renee Houston (of “The Houston Sisters”) appeared with her husband Donald Stewart in pantomime (see our article on War Time Panto) as did Cyril Fletcher and his wife, Betty Astell, with their daughter Jill Fletcher.
Billy Whittaker-the son of the famous ventriloquist Coram- appeared as Dame in many pantos with his wife Mimi Law, as did the Comedy balancing act of Ted and Hilda Durante and Len Howe and Audrey Maye- their son Michael also went into musicals and pantomimes.
Janet Brown (the impressionist) sometimes appeared with her “Carry-On” Husband Peter Butterworth in Pantomime. Their son Tyler now treads the boards.
Terry Cantor and his wife Adelle created the longest running pantomime ever at the City Varieties in Leeds, and Terry passed on his panto crown to son Kenny Cantor.
Emerson & Jayne - The Flying Carpet
The most enduring speciality of all “Emerson & Jayne-The Flying Carpet” was created and performed by husband and wife team Jack and Joy Skinner. No “Aladdin” was complete without this amazing routine.
Marty Wilde and Joyce Baker
In the 1960’s and early ‘70’s pop star Marty Wilde appeared in panto with his wife Joyce Baker. Their daughter Kim Wilde has encompassed both a pop career and a new career as a gardening expert on television. Alfred Marks, the great Panto Abanazar often appeared with wife Paddy O’Neil, and their son Gareth Marks followed in his Father’s footsteps.
The Barbours- famous for Stilt Walking in Pantomime (often as The Giant and Wife in “Jack & The Beanstalk”) were a family act, eventually performed by Peter Barbour and his daughter Sue. Meanwhile Paul and Peta Page presented pantomime puppets together, as did Alan and Brenda Stockwell- “The Pavlovs”. June and Paul Kidd (Mother & Son) were often to be found as “Daisy The Cow” in “Jack & The Beanstalk”.
Stan Stennet has appeared and produced countless pantomimes in his career, and has frequently appeared with son Ceri in many of them in his native Wales.
The stage magician and “pickpocket” Mark Raffles begat a whole family group- “Golden Brandy”- his children Wendy, Tim and Jacqui appeared in pantomimes together.
Brother and Sister Ria Jones and Ceri Dupree have both appeared in panto, although I don’t believe they have ever been in one together.
In recent years Husband and wife team Mollie Sugden and (the late) William Moore appeared in pantomime, as did Anna Karen and her husband Terry Duggan.-Terry has retired, and Anna appears each year as Fairy. Howell Evans and Patricia Kane appeared as Sisters while being husband and wife offstage, as did Jaqueline Clarke & Barry Gosney .Gordon and Bunny Jay- Brothers as Sisters- and The Lavelle Twins.
Les Dennis and Amanda Holden were Aladdin and his Princess, Kim Hartman and hubby John Nolan appeared in “Aladdin” as well, as have Brian Murphy and his wife Linda Regan (Her sister is Carole Drinkwater the actress, and her Dad was Peter Regan, Bandleader and Agent).
Paul Gyngell & Michael Gyngell (Brothers) both played Pantomime Princes, and Paul’s Wife Sue Hadleigh appeared onstage with her husband at Birmingham Hippodrome.
Even Political wives joined their husbands when The Hamiltons – Neil and Christine appeared in Panto a few years back!
Roy Hudd, the master of traditional pantomime has appeared with his wife, Debbie Flitcroft , and their son Max also appears each year. This year at Reddich Max will be directed by his Mum! Jimmy Cricket and his son Frankie Doodle appeared in pantomime together in “Aladdin”.
Joan Duffy and her daughter Ruth Carr appeared together- today Ruth appears and directs pantomimes herself.
The Webb Twins have appeared together, as have the twin daughters of Reginald Marsh- The Marsh Twins, as Prince and Dandini. The Cox and Miles Twins often appeared together- the twin brothers and sisters were, confusingly, also husbands and wives!
The following were suggested by Freddie Lees:-
Hope and Keen - were cousins. June and Paul Kidd were mother and son. Keefe and Annette were husband and wife. The Beverley Sisters played Dan, Dini and Prince Charming in the 50's in Liverpool with Ken Dodd and Bartlett & Ross. Also Bruce Forseyth and Penny Calvert (husband and wife at the time) played Dick Whittington and Queen of Cats. We are very grateful to Freddie for these additions.
Linda Lusardi / Sam Kane / Jeffrey Holland / Nick Wilton / Lynette McMorrough
Pantomime boasts many pairings today, keeping the tradition going. Linda Lusardi and Sam Kane (Husband and wife as Wicked Queen and Prince), Jeffrey Holland and Judy Buxton, appearing together- Nick Wilton and Lynette McMorrough- appearing in different pantos- perform in pantomime each year.
Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee
Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee appear each year, as does their son, Martin Daniels who has appeared in panto with his wife. Brian Blessed and his wife Hildegarde Neil have appeared together many times in panto and Christmas shows.
Bryan Burdon appears in panto each year- his Dad was the pantomime star Albert Burdon, who appeared in the great Lyceum Pantomimes in London in the 1930’s.
In Pantoland the Principal Girl roles, and later Wicked Queen and Fairy roles are dominated by one family- The Nolans! Five singing sisters all appearing in various pantomimes over the years- Anne, Denise, Maureen, Linda, Bernadette and Colleen. A product of singing parents, Tommy and Maureen Nolan, they have captured the family spirit of panto since the early 1970’s.
The second most prolific pantomime family today has to be The Harmon brothers- appearing in panto each and every year, but better known as The Patton Brothers and The Chuckle Brothers. They’ve even appeared all together in pantomimes!
This year the magical act “Safire” join the Chuckles on their panto tour- Safire are Jayne and Stuart Loughland- more family fortunes! The Pattons will be appearing in Bolton this season.
Mother and Daughters in Panto include Lorraine Hart and Tiffany Todd at Edmonton. Tiffany and her Sister Georgina are appearing at Norwich this season, so all three will be in Pantoland!
The Dynasty that is the Langfords sees Babette Langford providing, as ever, juveniles for pantomime from her schools, daughter Bonnie appearing in Pantomime (Sometimes with her Husband Paul) and, of course her nieces Summer & Scarlett Strallen are both leading ladies in the west End at the moment, as well as Summer appearing in the Barbican's Dick Whittington during the 2006/7 season! It can't also be forgotten that Scarlett's godfather is Christopher Biggins.
Letitia Dean and her Brother Stephen have appeared as Snow White & her Prince, The Krankies- Iain and Jeanette appear each year, often as Mother and Son, or Captain and Mate while becoming husband and wife off stage.
Rod Hull and Toby Hull with Emu
Emu has had two “keepers” in pantoland- Rod Hull, of course, and now Rod’s son, Toby Hull. The same went for “Sooty”- with both Father Harry Corbett and his son Mathew looking after the yellow bear.
Peter Duncan who directs and stars in panto is himself the product of a theatrical family. His parents ran theatres, tours and along with his Dad Alan Gale, Peter appeared in these family shows.
Clive Webb and Danny Adams
Clive Webb and Danny Adams are thrilling the crowds in Newcastle- this year in their real persona of Father and Son (Mr.Twankey and Aladdin) while The Simmons Brothers (Keith and Alan) appeared in countless pantomimes until Alan retired, and now “Simmons and Simmons” has Keith and his son Ben as the perfect panto double act!
Barney Harwood- presenter of Radio 4’s “Go For It” appears in pantomime this year at Tunbridge Wells- meanwhile his Dad, Barnaby will be in Lichfield.
One of the newest stars in Pantoland in 2007, although not exactly the youngest, Hollywood Legend Mickey Rooney will be performing alongside his wife Jan Rooney in Sunderland for First Family.
I’d welcome any additions to this Family Tribute, past and present, and indeed any corrections- please mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org
This page was last updated 17th August 2007