Harry Welchman (24 February 1886 – 3 January 1966) was an English star of musical theatre. He made several appearances in non-musical plays, but was remembered as, in the words of The Times , "perhaps the most popular musical comedy hero on the London stage in the years between the wars."
Welchman was primarily a stage performer, but he made nineteen films between 1915 and 1954, some of them musical and others straight drama.
Welchman was born at Barnstaple, Devon, the son of an Army colonel.He was educated at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, where he was a sporting boy, playing, as he said, "all the games", including hockey at county level. On leaving school at the age of eighteen he joined a touring musical comedy company led by Ada Reeve. When he was twenty he was spotted while playing in Christmas pantomime by the impresario Robert Courtneidge, under whose management he became a well known juvenile lead in such West End hit shows as Tom Jones (1907) The Arcadians (1909) and Princess Caprice (1912). In 1915 he made his first film, in the title role of Mr. Lyndon at Liberty .
During the latter part of the First World War Welchman served in the Royal Artillery.After demobilisation he returned to the West End under the management of C B Cochran, appearing with Alice Delysia in Afgar (1919). In 1921 he went to Daly's Theatre where he had two substantial successes, Sybil, and The Lady of the Rose, which, as The Times put it, "contained a famous duet in which Welchman tried without success to storm the affections of the heroine, played by Miss Phyllis Dare."
In 1925 Welchman made his Broadway debut as Rudolph Rassendyll in Princess Flavia .In the same year he appeared in London under his own management at the Adelphi Theatre in Love's Prisoner (1925). The piece, judged by The Times to be an unsuccessful mixture of Gilbert and Sullivan, melodrama and musical comedy, had a brief run. He had a greater success in a string of West End operetta-style musical hits, playing leading man roles. These included the Red Shadow in The Desert Song (1927), which ran at Drury Lane for more than 400 performances; in The New Moon (1929) at the same theatre; in Victoria and Her Hussar (1931); and as François Villon in a revival of The Vagabond King (1937). He toured as Captain Hook in Peter Pan , in which The Manchester Guardian found him less villainous than his predecessors in the role, but "melodious" with "a certain dash and attractiveness".
In the 1930s and 40s Welchman appeared in more than a dozen feature films, some musical and others straight drama. Among the former were A Southern Maid (1933) and Lisbon Story (1946); the latter include The Gentle Sex and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943).
In 1947 Welchman moved to Penzance, where he bought a farm and spent more and more of his time, though never formally retiring from the stage.In 1959, when he was seventy-three, he played Lord Mortlake in John Osborne's The World of Paul Slickey ; he and Marie Löhr, who played his wife, were singled out for praise as highlights of an otherwise dull evening.
Welchman was twice married. His first marriage, to Joan Challoner, was dissolved. His second wife was the actress Sylvia Forde, with whom he had a daughter.He died in Penzance at the age of seventy-nine.
Dame Edith Mary Evans, was an English actress. She was best known for her work on the stage, but also appeared in films at the beginning and towards the end of her career. Between 1964 and 1968, she was nominated for three Academy Awards.
Frederick Lonsdale was a British playwright known for his librettos to several successful musicals early in the 20th century, including King of Cadonia (1908), The Balkan Princess (1910), Betty (1915), The Maid of the Mountains (1917), Monsieur Beaucaire (1919) and Madame Pompadour (1923). He also wrote comedy plays, including The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1925) and On Approval (1927) and the murder melodrama But for the Grace of God (1946). Some of his plays and musicals were made into films, and he also wrote a few screenplays.
Dame Esmerelda Cicely Courtneidge, was an Australian-born British actress, comedian and singer. The daughter of the producer and playwright Robert Courtneidge, she was appearing in his productions in the West End by the age of 16, and was quickly promoted from minor to major roles in his Edwardian musical comedies.
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Percy Greenbank was an English lyricist, best known for his contribution of lyrics to a number of successful Edwardian musical comedies in the early years of the 20th century. His older brother, lyricist Harry Greenbank, had a brilliant career in the 1890s that was cut short by his death at the age of 33. Percy picked up where his brother had left off, writing lyrics for some of the most popular musicals from 1900 through World War I and even afterwards.
Daly's Theatre was a theatre in the City of Westminster. It was located at 2 Cranbourn Street, just off Leicester Square. It opened on 27 June 1893, and was demolished in 1937.
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Robert Courtneidge was a British theatrical manager-producer and playwright. He is best remembered as the co-author of the light opera Tom Jones (1907) and the producer of The Arcadians (1909). He was the father of the actress Cicely Courtneidge, who played in many of his early 20th century productions.
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