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​Albert Whelan and the Mysterious Telegram

One of our regular visitors to the Community History Department,  Mrs. Isabel Butler, brought in an interesting item the other day. It was a telegram which her Grandmother Mrs. Isabel Barnes received when she ran a bed and breakfast at 39 Park Avenue during the war…

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As you can see from the above, a Mrs. Albert Whelan was requesting the best bedroom and sitting room available for the week beginning Sunday 4th August 1940.  On further investigation, our staff found that Albert Whelan was none other than that famous Australian entertainer.  He played the Grand Theatre in Jubilee Street and amazingly during the search through our collection of Theatre Posters, we have come across the original poster for that very week.

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Albert was top of the bill that week along some other weird and wonderful acts including;
Olgo—the Miracle Mind (1901-1979) otherwise known as The Mental marvel a.k.a. Professor Olgo.
Stan Pell and Stan Little​—A north England music hall act who appeared in George Formby's second film "Off the Dole" where Pell plays a parson and Little played a 7 year old boy when he was actually 24.  They did a sketch about a Tonic-Sol-Fa and an eccentric dance.  Stan Little (1919-2000) was actually born Robert Stanley Thompson in Newcastle and also appeared in the "Adventures of Tom Sawyer" TV series in 1960.  The Glass Cage" with future Bond girl Honour Blackman and "Home sweet Home" with Frank Randle.
Will Norman—"Juggling with Laughs"
Pricilla Wise—the famous Lady Tenor
Three Krystos
Paul Roach and Vick Burns—In Alpine Acquaintance

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Albert Whelan was one of the most famous Australians who graced the stage of the British Music Hall.  He was born in Melbourne on the 5th May 1875 and first made a name for himself after moving to Western Australia, entertaining the miners working the goldfields.  After emigrating to England at the turn of the century, he started out as a scarecrow dancer at the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square but his versatile talents which involved singing and piano playing led him on to have a successful and lasting career which lasted well into his eighties.

He is recognised as inventing the signature tune and always arrived and exited the stage whistling Robert Vollstedt's Waltz from "Die Lustige Bruder" (The Jolly Brothers).  He was always immaculately dressed in bow tie and tails and danced, sang, played the piano and was an excellent mimic.
He also appeared with Billy Bennett in an act called "Almost a Gentleman" with "Alexander and Moses" on the Radio in the 1930's.
Below is an example of the comedy Duo…

Alexander: "How's your brother getting along?"
Moses: "He's been arrested for drinking eau-de-cologne"
Alexander: "For drinking eau-de-cologne?  What's the Charge?"
Moses: "He was charged with fragrancy…

And there's more…

Alexander: "Did you participate in the Yuletide frolics?"
Moses: "Yes, we played `kiss me, Duckie, kiss me`."
Alexander: "How do you play this affectionate pastime?"
Moses: "They blindfold a girl and if she catches a man he has to kiss her under the mistletoe or give her a shilling"
Alexander: "Well, how did that work out?"
Moses: "My wife finished with 35 shillings and a railway timetable"
Alexander: "Wouldn't the boys kiss her under the mistletoe?"
Moses: "They Wouldn't kiss her under anaesthetic…

He was an artist who could sing a good comic song, and a serious ballad, play the violin, the piano dance and give impersonations ranging from a popular comedian to the latest craze in Hollywood film stars and accepted as one of the greatest all-round entertainers of his time.

He died on the 19th February 1961, in London

With many thanks to Isabel Butler. ​​​

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