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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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Randle, Frank [real name Arthur Hughes; known as Arthur McEvoy] (1901–1957), music-hall comedian and film actor, was born in 50 Wigan Road, Aspull, Wigan, Lancashire, on 30 January 1901, the illegitimate son of Rhoda Hughes, a domestic servant; his father is unrecorded. He was baptized ...

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Smith [née Johnson], Cornelia Estelle [Connie] (1875–1970), music-hall entertainer and actress, was born on 29 April 1875 in South Carolina, USA, the daughter of Matthew and Letta Johnson. While she was still young the family moved to Brooklyn, New York. In 1894 she left ...

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Harry Tate (1872–1940) by Houston Rogers V&A Images, The Victoria and Albert Museum

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Tate, Harry [real name Ronald McDonald Hutchison] (1872–1940), music-hall artist and comedian, was born at 47 Osborne Terrace, Clapham Road, Kennington, London, on 4 July 1872, the son of Robert Henry Hutchison, a mercantile clerk, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Delauney. At the age of eighteen he was a stockbroker's clerk. He reputedly took his stage surname from the company of sugar-refiners for whom he had once worked, and first appeared under it at the ...

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Thomas Edward Trinder (1909–1989) by Baron, 1951 Getty Images – Baron

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Trinder, Thomas Edward [Tommy] (1909–1989), comedian, was born on 24 March 1909 in Streatham, London, the eldest in the family of two sons and one daughter of Thomas Henry Trinder (1886-1969), tram conductor and baker, and his wife, Jennie Harriett [Jean] Mills (1886-1954)...

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See Waters, (Florence) Elsie

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(Florence) Elsie Waters (1893–1990) by unknown photographer [Waters sisters [left to right]: and Doris Ethel Waters (1899-1978)] © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Waters, (Florence) Elsie (1893–1990), comedian, was born on 19 August 1893 at 1 Rounton Road, Bromley by Bow, Poplar, London, the elder daughter of Edward William Waters, an undertaker's furnisher, and his wife, Maud Mary Best. Her younger sister, Doris Ethel Waters (...

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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 ...