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Dame Gracie Fields (1898–1979) by James Jarché © reserved; collection Science & Society Picture Library / Kodak Collection; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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Fields, Dame Gracie [real name Grace Stansfield] (1898–1979), music-hall entertainer and film actress, was born at 9 Molesworth Street, Rochdale, Lancashire, on 9 January 1898, the eldest of the four children (three daughters and one son) of Fred Stansfield (1874–1956), engineer, and his wife, ...

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George Formby (1904–1961) by A. J. Tanner, 1953 © Science & Society Picture Library; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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Formby, George [real name George Hoy Booth] (1904–1961), music-hall entertainer and actor, was born at 3 Westminster Street, Wigan, Lancashire, on 26 May 1904, the eldest of the seven surviving children (four girls and three boys) of James Lawler Booth (1875–1922), music-hall entertainer, and his wife, ...

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Frankie Howerd (1917–1992) by Vincent Gillett © Vincent Gillet Photography; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Howerd, Frankie [real name Francis Alick Howard] (1917–1992), comedian, was born in York on 6 March 1917, the elder son and eldest of three children of Francis Alfred William Howard, soldier and tutor in the army education corps, and his wife, Edith Florence, ...

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Wilton, Robb [real name Robert Smith] (1881–1957), comedian, was born on 28 August 1881 at 34 Tillotson Street, Everton, Liverpool, the son of Joseph Smith, compositor, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Poland, actress. He was soundly educated locally and was prepared for the engineering trade, but in 1899 he made his stage début at the ...