Remembering George Formby

03/06/2012
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(Gibson) On this day in 1961, George Harrison's favorite ukulele player, George Formby died. Gibson takes a look back: On this day in 1961, Britain lost a hero. Singer, comedian and ukulele player George Formby passed away. He was a national treasure with 150,000 attending his funeral.

The comedian from the north of England was Britain's top box office star in the '30s and '40s, making 19 movies. When he signed a contact with Columbia in 1941 he became the fifth highest-paid movie actor in the world ahead of superstars like Errol Flynn and Bing Crosby.

While Britain was at war, Formby kept spirits up and did his duty entertaining the troops. He flew to Africa to visit Field Marshal Montgomery and entertain the Eighth Army where he played to more than 10,000 British soldiers.

His wife Beryl worked in his variety act before becoming his manager, taking him around the world. In 1942, she arranged for George to play shows in South Africa. When he embraced a black girl who presented him and Beryl with chocolates, he was roundly cheered by the black audience, a move that brought an irate phone call form the National Party Leader, Daniel Francois Malan, who had the Formbys unceremoniously deported for disobeying the pre-apartheid color code. Beryl gave as good as she got, however, telling Malan, "Why don't you piss off you horrible little man?" more on this story

Gibson.com is an official news provider for the antiMusic.com.
Copyright Gibson.com - Excerpted here with permission.

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