Lupino Lane

Last updated

Lupino Lane
Lupino Lane - Jan 1922 EH.jpg
Lane in 1922
Henry William George Lupino

(1892-06-16)16 June 1892
Hackney, London, England
Died10 November 1959(1959-11-10) (aged 67)
London, England
  • Actor
  • theatre manager
  • director
  • producer
Years active1896–1940
(m. 1917)
Family Lupino

Henry William George Lupino (16 June 1892 – 10 November 1959) professionally Lupino Lane, was an English actor and theatre manager, and a member of the famous Lupino family, which eventually included his cousin, the screenwriter/director/actress Ida Lupino. Lane started out as a child performer, known as 'Little Nipper', and went on to appear in a wide range of theatrical, music hall and film performances. Increasingly celebrated for his silent comedy short subjects, he is best known in the United Kingdom for playing Bill Snibson in the play and film Me and My Girl , which popularized the song and dance routine "The Lambeth Walk". [1]


Early life and career

Lane was born in Hackney, London, son of Harry Charles Lupino (1867–1925), part of the Hook family who adopted the surname 'Lupino.' He adopted the surname Lane from his great-aunt Sarah Lane (1822–1899, née Borrow), the director of the Britannia Theatre, Hoxton. [1] Lane married actress Violet Blythe on 10 February 1917, and their son was the actor Lauri Lupino Lane (1921–86).[ citation needed ] Lane's brother was the actor Wallace Lupino, and his nephew, Wallace's son, was another actor, Richard Lupino. [2]

Lane made his first stage appearance at the age of four in a benefit in Birmingham for Vesta Tilley. He made his London début in 1903 as Nipper Lane at the London Pavilion. [1] He worked steadily as a performer thereafter. In 1915, he appeared at the Empire Theatre and played comic roles in theatre and film on both sides of the Atlantic from then on. In 1921, he dived through sixty three stage traps in six minutes while performing in a 1921 pantomime production of Aladdin at the Hippodrome. [1] [3] Lane and his wife Violet Blythe were both in the Broadway production of the musical Afgar , at the Central Theatre, in 1920–21, and he appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1924 at the New Amsterdam Theatre, from June 1924 to March 1925, and subsequently played Ko-Ko in The Mikado on Broadway in 1925, receiving good reviews. [1]

Lane's silent film career started in 1915 in a series of British short films, including the experimental Mr Butterbuns series. [4] As a comedy actor, he appeared in 40 Hollywood films made in the 1920s. [1] After several shorts and features for Fox in 1922–23, Lane appeared as Rudolph in D. W. Griffith's 1924 feature Isn't Life Wonderful?. He signed with Educational Pictures for a series of short comedies that featured his acrobatic flips and falls.[ citation needed ] Roscoe Arbuckle was one of his directors, but Lane was soon directing the films himself under the pseudonym "Henry W. George" (his given names). These comedies displayed Lane's agility and versatility: in one film he played 27 characters (Only Me, 1929). [5] Lane's brother Wallace Lupino, who usually co-starred in Lane's comedies, also starred in his own comedies, of which only three are known to survive. (Archivist Ben Model discovered one of them and posted it on YouTube.)

Lupino Lane made the transition to talking pictures, starring in a few sound shorts for Educational and making a guest appearance in the Warner Bros. feature The Show of Shows . He also played a major role in the 1929 musical film The Love Parade , but within two years he left Hollywood for his native England. [6] [4]


In the 1930s, Lane directed and acted in mostly British feature films.[ citation needed ] With Sir Oswald Stoll, Lane co-produced Twenty to One , written by L. Arthur Rose and Frank Eyton with music by Billy Mayerl, on the West End. Lane made his first appearance as Bill Snibson in this production, in which Snibson, a tout, was a big hit. The production ran for a year starting from November 1935 and went on a long British tour after that. [1]

Me and My Girl , the follow-up show, written by Rose and Douglas Furber with music by Noel Gay, was an even bigger hit. Snibson inherits a country estate and invites his mates from Lambeth to stay with him. It featured a hit song and dance routine from Lane called "The Lambeth Walk", which became popular throughout Europe in the late 1930s. Lane directed and produced the show as well as starring in it for 1,550 performances between 1937 and 1940. [7] It was the first British musical comedy to be televised and was made into a film in 1939. [1] The film was known as The Lambeth Walk [8] due to the popularity of the dance. [7]

Later career and death

The success of Me and My Girl made Lane a rich man. Lane continued to act on stage and on television in England for the rest of his life.[ citation needed ] In 1946, after it sustained damage during World War II, he purchased the shell of the Gaiety Theatre in London to rescue it from dereliction, intending to produce comedies. He failed to win the financial backing to refurbish it and sold it in 1950. The theatre was demolished in 1956.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in March 1956 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at London's BBC Television Theatre.[ citation needed ] He also appeared as the castaway on Desert Island Discs in 1957. [9]

Lane died on 10 November 1959, in London, at age 67 [1] and is buried at Streatham Park Cemetery. His wife, Violet Blythe, died 17 March 1983, aged 93.

To mark the 50th anniversary of his death, the Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America restored his memorial at Streatham Park Cemetery and held a memorial service at St Paul's, Covent Garden, with a reception at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. [10]

A commemorative blue plaque was erected to Lupino Lane on 15 June 2014 at his former home 32 Maida Vale, Paddington, by The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America. [11]

Partial filmography

DVD release

On 26 December 2012, Alpha Video released Lupino Lane Silent Comedy Collection, Volume 1 on Region 0 DVD-R. [12]
On 28 January 2014, they released Lupino Lane Silent Comedy Collection, Volume 2. [13]
On 15 November 2022, D&D Productions released Lupino Lane: Silent Comedian on DVD & Blu-ray. [14]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stanley Holloway</span> British actor, singer and comedian (1890–1982)

Stanley Augustus Holloway was an English actor, comedian, singer and monologist. He was famous for his comic and character roles on stage and screen, especially that of Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady. He was also renowned for his comic monologues and songs, which he performed and recorded throughout most of his 70-year career.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Noel Gay</span> British composer (1898-1954)

Noel Gay was born Reginald Moxon Armitage. He also used the name Stanley Hill professionally. He was a successful British composer of popular music of the 1930s and 1940s whose output comprised 45 songs as well as the music for 28 films and 26 London shows. Sheridan Morley has commented that he was "the closest Britain ever came to a local Irving Berlin". He is best known for the musical, Me and My Girl.

<i>Me and My Girl</i> Musical premiered in 1937

Me and My Girl is a musical with music by Noel Gay and its original book and lyrics by Douglas Furber and L. Arthur Rose. The story, set in the late 1930s, tells of an unapologetically unrefined Cockney gentleman named Bill Snibson, who learns that he is the 14th heir to the Earl of Hareford. The action is set in Hampshire, and in Mayfair and Lambeth in London.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daisy Dormer</span> English music hall singer

Daisy Dormer was a British music hall performer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roland Young</span> English-born actor (1887–1953)

Roland Young was an English-born actor. He began his acting career on the London stage, but later found success in America and received an Academy Award nomination for his role in the film Topper (1937).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bobby Howes</span> Actor (1895–1972)

Charles Robert William "Bobby" Howes was a British entertainer who was a leading musical comedy performer in London's West End theatres in the 1930s and 1940s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Educational Pictures</span> American film company

Educational Pictures, also known as Educational Film Exchanges, Inc. or Educational Films Corporation of America, was an American film production and film distribution company founded in 1916 by Earle Hammons (1882–1962). Educational primarily distributed short subjects; it is best known for its series of comedies starring Buster Keaton (1934–37) and the earliest screen appearances of Shirley Temple (1932–34). The company ceased production in 1938, and finally closed in 1940 when its film library was sold at auction.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Victoria Palace Theatre</span> West End theatre in London, England

The Victoria Palace Theatre is a West End theatre in Victoria Street, in the City of Westminster, opposite Victoria Station. The structure is categorised as a Grade II* listed building.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stanley Lupino</span> English actor (1893–1942)

Stanley Richard Lupino Hook, known professionally as Stanley Lupino, was an English actor, dancer, singer, librettist, director and short story writer. During the 1930s, Lupino appeared in a successful series of musical comedy films, often based on his already popular stage shows.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Arliss</span> English actor, author, playwright, and filmmaker

George Arliss was an English actor, author, playwright, and filmmaker who found success in the United States. He was the first British actor to win an Academy Award – which he won for his performance as Victorian-era British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli in Disraeli (1929) – as well as the earliest-born actor of any category to win the honour. He specialized in successful biopics, such as Disraeli, Voltaire (1933), and Cardinal Richelieu (1935), as well as light comedies, which included The Millionaire (1931) and A Successful Calamity (1932).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Britannia Theatre</span>

The Britannia Theatre (1841–1900) was located at 115/117 High Street, Hoxton, London. The theatre was badly damaged by a fire in 1900, forcing the sale of the lease. The site was reused as a Gaumont cinema from 1913 to 1940, before being demolished to make room for a more modern cinema which was never built. Housing has now been built on the site, which is marked by a London Borough of Hackney historic plaque.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sidney Bracey</span> American actor

Sidney Bracey was an Australian-born American actor. After a stage career in Australia, on Broadway and in Britain, he performed in more than 320 films between 1909 and 1942.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Huntley Wright</span> English actor

Huntley Wright was an English stage and film actor, comedian, dancer and singer, best known for creating roles in many important Edwardian musical comedies.

The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America and the Theatre and Film Guild of Great Britain and America is a registered theatre charity and non-profit making theatre organisation based in London. The Guild's patrons include Brian Croucher, Anita Dobson, Sheila Ferguson, Jessica Martin, Lorraine Chase, Gillian Gregory, Mark Lester, and Shani Wallis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Graves (actor)</span> English comic actor (1876–1949)

George Windsor Graves was an English comic actor. Although he could neither sing nor dance, he became a leading comedian in musical comedies, adapting the French and Viennese opéra-bouffe style of light comic relief into a broader comedy popular with English audiences of the period. His comic portrayals did much to ensure the West End success of Véronique (1904) The Little Michus, and The Merry Widow (1907).

Twenty to One was a British musical comedy first performed in 1935. The musical was a farce set around the world of horseracing. Bill Snibson, a bookmaker, joins an anti-gambling organisation in a fit of guilt. It ran for other four hundred performances at the Coliseum Theatre in the West End. Combined with provincial tours it ran for over a thousand shows. It was written by Louis Arthur Rose. The music was composed by Billy Mayerl.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tom Leamore</span> British singer-songwriter

Thomas Leamore was an English music hall and variety comic performer, dancer and singer.

Frederick Pope Stamper, usually credited as F. Pope Stamper or F. Pope-Stamper, less often as Pope Stamper, was an English stage and film actor who appeared mostly in Edwardian musical comedy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Reginald Crompton</span> British actor and singer

Reginald Crompton was a British solicitor, stage actor and silent film screenwriter. A bass-baritone, he created several minor roles in the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Walter Groves</span> British actor (1856–1906)

Walter Groves (1856–1906) was a British actor, comedian, music hall artist, and writer of the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Oxford Dictionary of Biography "Lupino Lane"
  2. "Richard Lupino, 75, TV and Stage Actor, Is Dead". The New York Times. 10 March 2005.
  3. Daily Graphic, 8 January 1921
  4. 1 2 "Lupino Lane - Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos". AllMovie.
  5. Donati, William (2013). Ida Lupino: A Biography. University Press of Kentucky. p. 36. ISBN   978-0-8131-4352-1.
  6. "The Love Parade (1929) - Ernst Lubitsch - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related". AllMovie.
  7. 1 2 Jeffrey Richards editor The Unknown 1930s: An Alternative History of the British Cinema, 1929–1939 I. B. Tauris, 1991, p. 109
  8. "The Lambeth Walk (1940) - Albert de Courville - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related". AllMovie.
  9. "BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs, Lupino Lane". BBC.
  10. The Stage newspaper, 5 November 2009
  11. "Music Hall Guild". Music Hall Guild. 25 September 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  12. "Alpha Video – Lupino Lane Silent Comedy Collection, Volume 1" . Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  13. "Alpha Video – Lupino Lane Silent Comedy Collection, Volume 2" . Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  14. "D&D Productions Video – Lupino Lane: Silent Comedian" . Retrieved 15 November 2022.


See also