Dorothy Ward (1890–1987)

 


Dorothy Ward (Norris Collection)
Dorothy Ward (Bert Feldman)
(Bert Feldman sheet music cover)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birmingham-born comedienne, actress, and singer Dorothy Ward was one of the mainstays of British Music Hall and Variety for decades. She made her stage debut at the Alexandra Palace, Birmingham, at the age of 15, and appeared in many London shows before settling largely into a career in pantomime in the 1920s. Ward was married to Shaun Glenville, a Music Hall and pantomime star in his own right. The couple frequently performed together in “panto,” she as one of the best Principal Boys and he as a renowned Dame. Their son Peter Glenville (1913–96) became an actor, film director (for example, “The Comedians,” starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor), and producer of Broadway shows (including “Take Me Along,” for which Jackie Gleason won a Tony in 1960).

Music Hall historian W. Macqueen-Pope describes Dorothy Ward as

a handsome and striking woman, with auburn hair, wonderful carriage and fine figure....Tights become her, they are second nature to her and she understands pantomime and its topsy turviness. To see her as “Jack” in Jack and the Beanstalk defy the giant outside his castle, wearing shining armour and then join in mortal combat with him in his own kitchen, clad in trailing clouds of gauze and silk, is to witness true pantomime....[She] left the halls plenty of fine songs.1

Ward remained one of Britain’s most popular Variety stars through the 1930s. Her off-stage life had an element of notoriety about it, and she was linked romantically to, among others, the Scottish aviator Jim Mollison.2

For details about the lives and careers of Dorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville, as well as a collection of interesting photographs, see the website: http://www.its-behind-you.com/wardglenville.html.

Open Your Heart And Let The Sunshine InDorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville were good friends of Fred Godfrey’s, and both sang his songs. Ward is known to have recorded three Godfrey songs: Blue Eyes (Regal G-7170, 1915); I Love My Motherland (Regal G-7418, 1916); and, most famously of all, Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty (Regal G-7398, 1916), which she says Godfrey wrote for her in her living room.3

In addition, judging by sheet music covers, Ward seems to have performed several other Godfrey songs: Down Texas Way (1917); Open Your Heart And Let The Sunshine In (1920); Till You Come Back Again (1926); Arm In Arm Together (1931); and There Is Always A Silver Lining (1939).

 

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Notes

1  W. MacQueen-Pope, The Melodies Linger On: The Story of Music Hall (London:
    W.H. Allen, 1950), pp. 339–40. 
2  See David Luff, Mollison, the Flying Scotsman: The Life of Pioneer Aviator James Allan
    Mollison
(Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993).
3  Dorothy Ward, “Live, love and laugh.” Daily Sketch (London), 10 May 1932, p. 10.