George Formby (26th May 1904 to 6th March 1961)

 

Though he could not even read music and was difficult to talk to (he was known to be a bit thick) there was no-one like him. His biggest hits were When I’m Cleaning Windows, Leaning On A Lamppost and With My Little Ukulele In My Hand. His dad was a music hall artist who used a routine as a singing, accident-prone tramp. He didn’t want young George to follow him into show business and persuaded his son to be a professional jockey. However George’s path changed when he was 16 and his father died. He was a poor jockey and thought he’d use his father’s act on stage. Due to chronic nerves he incorporated a ukulele in his act and things stepped up a gear.

 

At this time he met Beryl Ingram, a beautiful blonde who was also working on the Lancashire music hall circuit (she was a clog dancer.) George fell for her and they married (she wasn’t sexual and was so repulsed by the idea of having children that she underwent a hysterectomy shortly after their wedding.) As George’s career progressed Beryl governed every hour of her husband’s day and career - every engagement he fulfilled and every pound he earned. Though George was seemingly smiling and happy-go-lucky his was profoundly miserable. For nearly forty years this woman ran his life like a tyrant. Her ruthlessness, savage tongue and sheer willpower put him in a constant state of terror. He wasn’t allowed to befriend co-stars or go to the pub with his friends. She allowed him five shillings (25p) a week pocket money even when he had a £500,000 film contract with Columbia pictures. To be fair to her George probably wouldn’t have gone far without her firepower - she was monstrous but exceptionally clever. She was suffocating brute, though. She was monstrous but exceptionally clever.

 

When Beryl contracted cancer she had to use crutches. For the first time George felt slightly free of her clutches. He started a relationship with a schoolteacher Pat Howson (20 years his junior.) Within eight weeks of Beryl dying he announced his engagement to Pat. Happiness was cut shortly, though. Only two days before the wedding on 6th March 1961 he died of heart failure. He was only 56 when he died in St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Hospital, Preston.

 

After George’s death his executors held a three day auction of all his belongings (including his underpants). This was held under a canvass erected in the back garden. Over 1,000 items were sold including his Bentley, musical instruments and even his dog. The house itself was also auctioned and fetched £9,000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not far from George’s grave is the soldiers section…you’ve just got to salute…

 

Just about to get back in the car. Goodbye George!

 

The funeral service was held here in Liverpool…