Dorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville

A Pantomime Partnership

We would like to gratefully acknowledge the help and kind assistance of David Hartshorne for information and photographs of Dorothy Ward, and Patrick and Dorothy Drayton-Byrne for information on Shaun Glenville.

For almost fifty years the world of pantomime became home to a married couple who appeared as Mother and son in theatres throughout the United Kingdom. Dorothy Ward and her husband Shaun Glenville played the roles of Principal Boy and Dame throughout their long careers. Dorothy would provide the glamour and style, while Shaun would provide the comedy elements in pantomimes from 1910 until the mid 1950’s.

Married couples constantly touring and appearing together were not new, but they continued a stage partnership that pre dates Arthur Lucan and Kitty McShane (Husband and wife playing Mother and Daughter) and in recent times “The Krankies”, Jeanette and Ian, often playing Mother and son in today’s pantoland.

Their story begins with appearances in provincial pantomimes, and in between musical comedies, revues and operettas, appearances in Music Hall and variety, travelling to New York to appear on Broadway and returning to star in London’s West End both in musicals and in Pantomime.

A full listing of Shaun & Dorothy’s pantomimes is included in this article.

SHAUN GLENVILLE (1884-1968)

Born in Little Denmark Street, Dublin, Ireland 16th May,1884. as John Browne. His mother was the manager of the Mechanics Theatre (now the Abbey Theatre,) Dublin. She was Mary -nee Lynch from County Meath. His father was Henry BrowneDorothy and Peter (accountant). In later years Shaun took the Glenville name from Glenville House in County Wicklow.

Shaun’s first appearance on stage was aged two weeks at Theatre Royal, Birmingham in “Arrah-Na-Pogue” by Dion Boucicault. By 1906 he appears on the Variety Stage making his London debut in a sketch at the  Holborn Empire in 1907. The family had strong theatrical connections, and included the actor  Val Glenville. Shaun’s nephew was Wynard Browne playwright of “The Holly & The Ivy”.

As Shaun Glenville-Luck he toured America with “The Six Brothers Luck”, and later worked with Fred Karno’s company, and later with the Shubert Organisation in New York in the late 1920’s. By 1909 he was working in pantomimes throughout the country, and married Dorothy Ward. Their stage partnership was to continue right through until the 1950’s.

On 28th October 1913 Dorothy gave birth to their son, Peter. Christened Peter Patrick Brabazon Browne, he was born at their Hampstead London home. Dorothy’s mother Eliza was there to help out. Peter Glenville as he became known was to become a highly respected actor and director in both film and theatre, eventually living in New York.

Among Peter’s successes he was nominated for an academy award for “Beckett” with Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole. He began his acting career with the Manchester Repertory Theatre in 1934.Appeared as an actor frequently in the West End, and was director for the Old Vic Company. One of his first roles in London was playing opposite Vivienne Leigh in Shaw’s “The Doctor’s Delirium”. He continued to direct in New York, and  also directed the films “The Comedians” “Summer and Smoke”, “Hotel Paradiso” and “Term Of Trial” amongst others. Further details about Peter Glenville and the Peter Glenville Foundation can be found on their website.

Away from the annual pantomimes, Shaun pursued a career in Music Hall and Variety. He introduced several popular Irish songs into the repertoire, and made famous his sketches “Something In The Irish After All” and “He’s A Credit To Old Ireland Now”. He also appeared in many musical productions in the West End and on tour, often in the same production as Dorothy. These Musicals include:

1913 “The Gay Lothario”

1914 “After The Girl” at the Gaiety Theatre London and “The Light Blues”

1916 “Razzle Dazzle” at Drury Lane

1918  A tour of  “Happy Go Lucky” with Dorothy

1921 to New York: Shuman Theatre “ Quality Street” & “Whirl Of New York” At The Winter Gardens. In London. (Both with Dorothy.)
1922 Empire London “Jenny”
1926 “Apache” with Dorothy:  tour & London Palladium Season
1927 Palladium “Apache”
1927 October - 'The Blue Train' Grand Theatre Hull (with Dorothy)
1929 Performances in America.
1930 “De La Folie Pure”
1932 “La Poupee”at Daly’s Theatre London.
1933 “Friviolity”
1934 November - 'Private Road' Theatre Royal Newcastle
1936 “No No Nanette” London Hippodrome
1938  “Venus In Silk” and “Maritza”
1944 July - 'Roses of Piccadilly' Palace Theatre of Varieties
1951 August - Review 'Do You Remember' Newcastle Empire Theatre with George Robey and Buster Keaton

 

Throughout his career Shaun was a hard working, and it has to be mentioned, hard drinking man. Among the collection of stories about his life, Roy Hudd has collected several in his book “Roy Hudd’s Book of Music-Hall, Variety and Showbiz Anecdotes”. The following extract tells of a time when Shaun, Dorothy and Albert Burdon were in pantomime at Newcastle.

 

“ after a few jars in the theatre bar they decided that the night was young and they would continue their merry spree back in Albert’s digs.

 

They duly made their way to Leazes terrace where Albert, and most of the other pros had their lodgings. All the houses had keys on string just inside the letter box, and so the jolly pair quietly entered and sat themselves down in the front room. Shaun opened a cupboard and discovered a great assortment of booze while Albert found the glasses. The evening continued.

 

“I must say, these are very nice digs”, said Shaun.

“Why Aye Man”, nodded Albert. “I always stay here, ‘cos the woman’s a wonderful cook and has very good rooms”

“They are lovely”, agreed Shaun. “Look at that picture, for a start. What a beautiful painting!”

 

“You’re right” said Albert, squinting at the picture. “It is beautiful, and do you know – I’ve never noticed it before”

“And look at that furniture, Albert” enthused Shaun. “Not many digs have furniture like that”

 

“True, True”, said Albert, trying to focus on the sideboard. “here- Just a minute- Shaun, drink up quick and let’s get out of here. We’re in the wrong house!”

 

 

Roy Hudd mentions an incident told to him by John Moffatt involving a pantomime in which Binnie Hale was appearing with Shaun Glenville as Dame

“One lunchtime Shaun arrived at the theatre twenty-five minutes late for the matinee- he had over imbibed. The totally professional Binnie collared Shaun and said “Really Shaun, it’s too bad. You come in here twenty-five minutes late, stumbling around in a drunken stupor, smelling like a brewery, slurring your words with your flies undone – and I’ve got to call you Mother!”

 

Another anecdote Roy Hudd relates involves Dorothy Ward’s new car, a Rolls Royce- a story told by Alf Pearson:

“Shaun rang his friend Robb Wilton. “The car’s a beauty” said Shaun. “How do you fancy a spin in the country?”  Robb liked the sound of this idea, and the two of them set out for a drive. They passed several pubs, and didn’t pass several more, until eventually they decided it would be safer to spend the night at an hotel. Early the next morning Robb awoke to the sound of breaking glass. He looked out of the window, and there was Shaun taking a sledgehammer to the headlights of the Rolls. “What are you doing?” shouted Robb. “My Boy”, said Shaun, thinking of his wife’s reaction to his night away from home, “We’re having the accident now!”

 

Despite stories that told of Shaun’s occasional “memory lapses” during pantomime- generally after a “heavy Lunch”, which includes him as Dame Trott being prompted by the cow in the words of his opening song he had already performed fifty times, Shaun continued to give his all as a premier “Dame” in well over forty pantomimes throughout his career. From Glasgow to Drury Lane he and his glamorous wife performed year after year, up until he reached his late 60’s and beyond.

DOROTHY WARD (1890-1987)

Dorothy Ward was born in Birmingham on 26th April, 1890. (in some cases she gives her birthdate  as anything between 1891 and 1895). The daughter of Edwin Ward and Eliza (nee Millichamp) she was educated at Cheltenham.

Her first pantomime appearance was in her home town in 1905. She was engaged to play the part of Zenobia in “Bluebeard” at the Alexandra Theatre.

 

“When she found a friend of her Father was putting on a pantomime at the Alexandra Theatre, she went to him and said “I’m Ted Ward’s daughter. Will you give me a job?”

She sang. He engaged her at thirty shillings a week – without singing being required of her. Fate was working for Dorothy, and her precious song which was “How’d you like to spoon with me?”, because they wanted someone to fill in a few moments while the scenery was being changed, and she got her chance.

The next day the Birmingham papers declared “Birmingham girl’s success” and she found herself with an offer from Robert Courteneidge. Things moved rapidly then, and at the age of Fifteen she was a Principal Boy”

(extract from “Daly’s” by D.Forbes Winslow. 1944)

Courteneidge asked Dorothy to appear in “The Dairymaids”, a musical comedy at the Apollo Theatre. The production opened on 14th April 1906 with Ward as “Betty”. The Dairymaids: (Apollo.14th April 1906) Cast: Phyllis Broughton, Phyllis Dare, Gracie Leigh, Walter Passmore, Dan Rolyat, Florence Smithson, Dorothy Ward.

The following Christmas she appeared as Dandini in “Cinderella” at Edinburgh, and understudied Prince Charming who obligingly fell ill. Dorothy Ward played her first Principal Boy.

In 1907 She plays Etoff in “Tom Jones” in London, and in 1908 she plays the Hicks Theatre London in “Waltz Dream” followed by “Havana” at the Gaiety Theatre, and “The Gay Gordons”.

“Dorothy said one of the happiest times of her life was when she was with George Edwardes at the Gaiety Theatre, understudying at the age of sixteen several parts in “Havana”. She got her chance to play the lead. Edwardes gave her her first big chance in London as the Princess in “A Waltz Dream”. After the first performance he presented her with a quaint ring: it consisted of two large diamonds, set one on each side of a shamrock leaf in emeralds- similar to the one he gave to Lily Elsie when she made her first big hit in “The Merry Widow”.

(Daly’s. 1944)

The Pantomime “Little Jack Horner” at Newcastle in 1910 saw Dorothy as “Jack” and the Dame played by a young Irish comedian called Shaun Glenville. By the last night of the run they announced from the stage that the hero and his mother were to be married. From then on their careers were entwined, both in pantomime and frequently in Musical Comedy for the next forty five years. Their son Peter was born in 1913.

Ward and Glenville continued to appear in F.W. Wyndham’s pantomimes for the next few years with a break in 1914. That year saw Dorothy’s next major break in “The Cinema Star” at the , Shaftesbury Theatre, London, in which she played the part of Louise. The production toured the provinces before opening in London on 4th June . In the cast were Fay Compton, Cicely Courtneidge, Lauri De Freece, Jack Hulbert, Ambrose Manning, Dorothy Ward, and Harry Welchman.

Reviews of The Cinema Star - Click image to enlarge

Dorothy and Shaun continued in pantomime, but now they were working for the Wylie-Tate” organisation, headed by Julian Wylie and James Tate. They were to work under this banner for nearly twenty years. In 1916  Dorothy appeared in “We’re All In It” at the London Hippodrome, touring through the following year, and joined up with Shaun in 1918 in  “Happy Go Lucky”

We’re All In It: (Empire. 13th July 1916) Cast: George Graves, Lupino Lane, Blanche Tomlin, Dorothy Ward.

Reviews of Quality Street - Click image to enlarge

By 1921 the couple set sail for America- they were both appearing in  “ Quality Street” at the Shubert Theatre, New York, returning to star in “The World Of New York” at the Winter Gardens, London, followed by Pantomime in Glasgow. – the first of six productions of “Mother Goose” in succession. With one exception:

Reviews of The World of New York - Click image to enlarge

Dorothy & Shaun were booked to play the Alhambra Glasgow in “Mother Goose” that year. At the last minute Dorothy replaced Clarice Mayne at the Hippodrome, London playing opposite George Robey in “Jack and The Beanstalk”. Clarice Mayne was married to James Tate- of “Wylie-Tate” the producers. He died shortly before the pantomime opened, and would explain the change to the cast. Since Robey played Dame, it might be possible to assume Glenville carried out his contract with Manchester for that season without Dorothy. 

In 1926 they both opened in the Theatre Royal Newcastle with “The Apache”, which toured, and opened in the London Palladium the following year on the 15th February 1927 with the cast including Carl Brisson, Adrienne Brune, Shaun Glenville, Dorothy Ward. This musical was produced by Julian Wylie of “Wylie Tate”. This was followed by  “The Blue Train” in which they both appeared on tour.

Dorothy and Shaun were by now amongst the most feted and celebrated couple in the theatre. They worked hard, and accumulated a great deal of money. In his book “Roy Hudd’s Music Hall, variety and showbiz anecdotes” Roy tells how, when Dorothy was working for Emile Little  she was playing Colin, the Miller’s son in “Puss in Boots”:

“At the dress rehearsal she made her first entrance in her “poor boy” costume but wearing a positive fistful of diamond rings. She was very proud of how well she’d done, and wanted everyone else to know it too. At the end of the run-through, Emile Littler said, “Dorothy, darling, you’re supposed to be the poor miller’s son. I think we should dispense with the diamond rings”.

Dorothy said nothing, but on the opening night she came on with her hands behind her back and said, “here I am, Colin the poor miller’s son”. She then waved her bejewelled hands at the audience and added, “and look what the Good Fairy keeps giving me!”

Swathed in furs, bejewelled and stepping out of her Rolls Royce Dorothy was a long way from her roots in Birmingham. Beaton took her photograph on several occasions (examples of which are at the National Portrait Gallery) and she was among the brightest stars of the West End. However her appeal in pantomime was in the provinces- She and Shaun were regulars in Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow and Manchester as much as they were in the West End.

In 1931 Dorothy opened in “Belle Of New York” at Daly’s Theatre, a revival. It opened on April 2nd. In this she played the part of Cora Angelique, followed on July 29th with a revival of “Floradora”, in which she played Lady Holywood, the part originally played by Ada Reeve. This was followed by “A Country Girl”, with Dorothy as Nan and “The  “Duchess Of Dantzig”. The season concluded with “La Poupee” in which Shaun Glenville played in 1932. The couple recorded many hit songs during this period, and made countless recordings.

Throughout the thirties  She and Shaun continued in Pantomime and variety. At the outbreak of the second World War Dorothy was among the first entertainers to join up with E.N.S.A to tour France, entertaining the troops.. She became known as “Mademoiselle from the Maginot Line” after her hit number of the same name.

 

Towards the end of the war Dorothy appeared at the Victoria Palace in “Meet Me In Victoria”, and Shaun appeared in “The Time Of Your Life” at the Lyric, Hammersmith. By 1950 Dorothy was sixty years old. Shaun was Sixty-Six.

 

In the 1950’s, and still going strong as Premier Principal boy, Dorothy possibly had a few doubts as to her longevity in fishnets and  tunics. In an interview in 1954 while appearing as Dick Whittington at the Kingston Empire she was reticent to mention dates and birth dates:

 

“I want audiences to enjoy the pantomime” she said “Not to wonder if I’ve got my own teeth!”

Dorothy had created the benchmark of the modern Principal boy. She entered the profession at a time when the Edwardian “Fuller-Figured” ladies held sway in their corsets and heavy swagged costumes. She created the prototype for the rarely seen Principal Boy today. One of her innovations was the refusal to have a  theatrical tailor create her costumes, as was the custom. She insisted on a dressmaker. Her costumes were more feminine in style, and the heavy fabrics and cumbersome drapes were dispensed with. The addition of delicate high heeled court shoes and tailor made soft boots added to this glamorous transformation. Dorothy claimed she based her portrayal of “a boy” on Ada Reeve, whom she first saw in “Jack and The Beanstalk” in Birmingham.

I can still see now the way she used her hands…when she did the selling of the cow”

Dorothy’s mastery of pathos in that scene became legendary. In fact this tear-jerking scene was taken, out of context and placed into the Royal Command Performance with Dorothy ensuring there was not a dry eye in the house.

In 1957 at the age of sixty seven Dorothy Ward made her last appearance in pantomime. She had played Principal Boy almost continuously since 1906 and took her last bow as “Dick Whittington” at the Old Pavilion Theatre Liverpool. In her era it was unthinkable that a male performer should play the role, and with a few exceptions over the years she was proved correct. The next decade was to see the shift from ladies playing the part to gentlemen- and today in pantomime the appearance of a glamorous lady as Jack, or Colin or Prince Charming are few and far between. In the Observer interview a few years before her retirement Dorothy told of her pleasures in life- her family, friends and her memories:

“I’ve always enjoyed my life, always worked hard, and I’ve always been blessed with good health”.  Her pleasures are a daily walk in Regent’s Park, going to the Theatre, and gossiping in her baker street flat with, among other frequent visitors “The best of all Aladdin’s- Ella Retford”. With Clarice Mayne and Norah Delany, Miss Retford and Miss Ward used to be known as “The Big Four”. And there, under a gallery of photographs, these two discuss the days when Boys were Boys, the perils of climbing beanstalks, and of flying to Gooseland, and the cost of golden armour” (Observer, Sunday January 10th 1954)

 

 Dorothy Ward & Shaun Glenville

Pantomime Appearances

Royal Court Theatre, 1912

1905

Dorothy Ward

Bluebeard

Alexandra, Birmingham

1906

Dorothy Ward

Cinderella

Prod - Robert Courtneidge

Kings Theatre, Edinburgh

1907

Dorothy Ward

Humpty Dumpty

Unknown

1908

Dorothy Ward

Unknown

Palace, Belfast

 

Shaun Glenville

Unknown

Tyne, Newcastle

1909

Dorothy Ward

Babes in the Wood

We are very grateful to Tony Smith for this information.

Prince of Wales, Birmingham

 

Shaun Glenville

Humpty Dumpty

Prod - F.W.Wyndham

Theatre Royal, Edinburgh

1910

Ward & Glenville

Jack Horner

Prod - F.W.Wyndham

Royal, Newcastle

1911

Ward & Glenville

Jack Horner

Prod - F.W.Wyndham

Royal, Glasgow

1912

Ward & Glenville

Tommy Tucker

Prod - F.W.Wyndham

Royal Court, Liverpool

1913

Ward & Glenville

Humpty Dumpty

Prod - John Hart

Royal, Manchester

1914

Ward & Glenville

Humpty Dumpty

Dorothy was Humpty Dumpty but Shaun was not dame, he played Master of Ceremonies.

Princes Theatre, Bristol

1915

Ward & Glenville

Old King Cole

Grand, Leeds

1916

Ward & Glenville

Boy Blue

Royal, Birmingham

1917

Ward & Glenville

Babes in the Wood

Prod - Wylie-Tate

 

Palace, Manchester

1918

Ward & Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk

Prod - Wylie-Tate

Alhambra, Glasgow

1919

Ward & Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk

Prod - Wylie-Tate

 

Olympia, Liverpool

 

1920

Ward & Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk

Prod - Wylie-Tate

Palace, Manchester

1921

Dorothy Ward

Jack and the Beanstalk

Prod - Wylie-Tate

Hippodrome, London

We are very grateful to Johnny Dallas for these items

 

Shaun Glenville

Mother Goose

Prod - Wylie-Tate

 

Even though Dorothy was featured on the front page in Mother Goose, she actually replaced Clarice Mayne in London.

Alhambra, Glasgow

1922

Ward & Glenville

Mother Goose

Prod - Wylie-Tate

Palace, Manchester

1923

Ward & Glenville

Mother Goose

Prod - Wylie-Tate

Olympia, Liverpool

1924

Ward & Glenville

Mother Goose

Prod - Wylie-Tate

Hippodrome, London

1925

Ward & Glenville

Mother Goose

Prod - Wylie-Tate

Theatre Royal, Newcastle

1926

Ward & Glenville

The Apache

Prod - Wylie-Tate

On Tour - playing the Christmas Season at the Newcastle Hippodrome

1927

Ward & Glenville

Mother Goose

Prod - Wylie-Tate

Hippodrome, Sheffield

1928

Ward & Glenville

Glenville played Buttons

Cinderella

Prod - Wylie-Tate

Empire, Liverpool

1929

Ward & Glenville

 

Click on image to enlarge

Robinson Crusoe

Prod - Wylie-Tate

 

Palace, Manchester

 

1930

Ward & Glenville

Robinson Crusoe

Prod - Wylie-Tate

Empire, Liverpool

1931

Ward & Glenville

Queen of Hearts

Prod - Wylie-Tate

 

Grand, Leeds

1932

Ward & Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk

Prod - Wylie-Tate

Kings, Edinburgh

1933

Ward & Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk

Prod - Wylie-Tate

Theatre Royal, Newcastle

1934

Ward & Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk

 

Alexandra, Birmingham

 

1935

Dorothy Ward

Dick Whittington

Prod - Wylie-Tate

Theatre Royal, Newcastle

 

Shaun Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

1936

Dorothy Ward

Jack and the Beanstalk

Alhambra Theatre, Glasgow

We are very grateful to Christopher Frost for this information

 

Shaun Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk

Prince Littler

Theatre Royal, Glasgow

1937

Dorothy Ward

Oh Letty

On Tour

 

Shaun Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk

Streatham Hill

1938

Dorothy Ward

Mother Goose

Empire, Newcastle

 

Shaun Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk

Golders Green

1939

Ward & Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk

Prod - Derek Salburg

 

Alexandra, Birmingham

1940

Ward & Glenville

Unknown

 

1941

Ward & Glenville

Puss in Boots

Wimbledon

1942

Ward & Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack Taylor & John D. Robertsons

Garrick Theatre, Southport

 

1943

Ward & Glenville

Unknown

 

1944

Ward & Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk

Empire, Sheffield

1945 - 1946

 

Unknown

 

1947

Ward & Glenville

Jack and the Beanstalk Empire, Leeds

1948

Ward & Glenville

Mother Goose

Empire, Kingston

1949

Ward & Glenville

 

Jack and the Beanstalk

We are very grateful to Sally Cahill for this information.

 

The Chiswick Empire

1950

Dorothy Ward

 

Babes in the Wood

We are very grateful to David Hartshorne for this information.

 

Empire, Newcastle

1951

 

Unknown

 

1952

Dorothy Ward

Puss in Boots Theatre Royal, Nottingham

1953

Ward & Glenville

Dick Whittington

Empire, Kingston

1954 - 1956

 

Unknown

 

1957

Dorothy Ward

just prior to her 70th Birthday

Dick Whittington

We are very grateful to

Johnny Dallas for this items

Pavilion, Liverpool

Mother Goose, Kingston Empire - 1948/49

 

Mother Goose, Theatre Royal Newcastle - 1925/6

The Obituaries

Shaun Glenville: Obituary

Mr Shaun Glenville the Irish actor, a famous pantomime dame has died in his London home. He was 84.

His theatrical life was so closely linked with that of his talented wife, Miss Dorothy Ward, that it is sometimes difficult to remember the good work they did in their early career. But it will be for their work in pantomime that they will be best remembered. To hundreds and thousands of playgoers Miss Ward will always be first and foremost a Principal Boy and Mr Glenville the dame who provided the comedy.

Born in Ireland on May 16th 1884 of a mother who was the manager of the Abbey Theatre Dublin, he made his first appearance when a baby in arms of two weeks in Dion Boucicault’s drama “Arrah-na-Pogue” at the Theatre Royal Birmingham, and 68 years later he played Mr Ablett in “Trelawny Of The Wells” at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith.

Between those times he had played a wide variety of parts both in this country and in the United States. He first appeared in London in 1907 in a sketch at the Holborn Empire. He was in the revue “Razzle Dazzle” at Drury Lane in 1916 and he went to New York in 1921 for a successful production of “Quality Street” in which he played Sergeant O’Toole, with Miss Ward as Phoebe. He was with her again at the Winter Garden in London in “The Whirl of New York” in 1921.

When he could find time to tear himself away from pantomime Glenville was a welcome entertainer on the Music Halls, and two of his Irish sketches “Something in the Irish after all” and “He’s a credit to old Ireland now” were immensely popular.

He leaves a son, Mr Peter Glenville, the actor and director.

Dorothy Ward- Obituary

Daily Telegraph. 1/4/87

Dorothy Ward who has died aged 96 was one of the greatest Principal Boys in the history of that peculiar British institution, The Pantomime.

Even after her retirement in 1957, Miss Ward’s name remained synonymous with “Panto”: its doublets and hose, sheer silk stockings, chorus numbers and the inevitable duets between “Boy” and “Girl”.

But she was equally at home in variety, musical comedy, revue and the occasional operetta. With her striking red-orange coloured hair, expansive smile and exquisitely shaped legs, Miss Ward would make superb “star” entrances. Audiences rejoiced at her instructions to stand up and sing.

Legion of Admirers

Among her legion of admirers were such celebrities as Lloyd George, The Duke of Westminster and Winston Churchill. The Crazy Gang paid tribute to “The lovely Dorothy Ward” in their celebrated number “Principal Boys”.

During the 1939-45 war, she toured for E.N.S.A and was known to the adoring soldiery as “Mademoiselle From The Maginot Line” (the title of one of her best known numbers).

Born and brought up in Birmingham, Dorothy Ward made her first appearance at the age of 15 as Zenobia in “Bluebeard”” at the Alexandra Theatre Birmingham. The following year she made her debut in the West End as Betty in “The Dairymaids” at the Apollo, and soon there was no stopping her.

Perhaps her most spectacular triumph was as Jack in “Jack and The Beanstalk” at the London Hippodrome in 1922. She took over from Clarice Mayne at short notice in a role that contained all the best ingredients of pantomime: handsome hero, adventure, melodrama, heroine in distress and comic pathos.

The comic pathos was particularly to the fore as she was playing opposite the legendary George Robey as Dame Trott. In his autobiography, Robey recalled that Dorothy Ward “not only looked the part finely, but showed an infectious jollity and, where necessary, quite a pretty gift of emotional acting”.

Out of pantomime Miss Ward’s best known musical performance was when she played opposite Carl Brisson in “The Apache” at the London Palladium in 1925. (sic 1927)

In her heyday as a “headliner” between the wars Dorothy Ward was constantly touring in variety both in Britain and abroad. She would crown the end of each performance by bringing on a troupe of diminutive, prettily dressed young children, known as “Dorothy Ward’s Tiny Tots”. The “Tiny Tots” would aid and abet the star as the chorus in song and dance numbers, enjoying enormous success.

Dorothy Ward made recordings of such popular numbers as “Take me back to dear old blighty”, “The Sheik of Araby”, “A Shanty in Old Shanty Town”, “Let The Rest Of The World Go By” and several others with her husband, Shaun Glenville.

She and Glenville would often act in pantomime together as “boy” and “Dame” respectively. Their son, Peter Glenville became a distinguished stage and film director.

When Miss Ward made her last stage appearance, shortly before her 70th birthday, it was only fitting that the farewell should have been at a provincial theatre (the Old Pavilion, Liverpool) in the role of a pantomime Principal Boy.

from The Stage - 16th April 1987

 

from The Stage - 30th April 1987

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Dorothy Ward talks about pantomime

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SEE ALSO

Behind the scenes in a pantomime
By Dorothy Ward
 
and
 

Dorothy Ward

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