THE LIFE OF STANLEY HOLLOWAY
greeted his fellow explorer in deepest Africa with the immortal words “Dr Livingstone, I presume?”
On leaving school Holloway worked as a clerk. Like many young men of his time he joined the London Rifle Brigade which was a volunteer army unit.
This led to him being commissioned in the First World War in the Connaught Rangers with whom he saw service in the Easter Rising in Ireland and on the Western Front.
Towards the end of the war he joined Leslie Henson, Jack Buchanan, Binnie Hale and other entertainers to perform for the troops.
His first professional engagement had been to sing in a seaside concert party before the First World War after which he commenced to train in Italy as an operatic singer.
However, after the War he reverted to variety, pantomime, musical comedy and revues, enjoying a broad based career on Broadway and the West End stage, in films and on radio and television.
In the 1920s Holloway and others who had performed in the Army formed the ‘Co-Optimists’ whose revues ran for six years in the West End.
He perfected the performance of such comic monologues as ‘Sam, Sam Pick oop thy Musket’, and Albert’s unhappy experience at the zoo with a lion.
Described as “the understated look-on-thebright-side” world of the cockney, his voice made him, as he had demonstrated in public to fellow diners, perfect for the character role of the cockney dustman Alfred P. Doolittle in ‘My Fair Lady’.
Holloway’s film career ranged from propaganda films in the Second World War to playing opposite two of Beaconsfield’s great actresses.
He starred in ‘Major Barbara’ (1941), a social satire in which he played a policeman opposite Wendy Hiller, and with Margaret Rutherford in the 1949 Ealing Studios comedy ‘Passport to Pimlico’ playing a Prime Minister.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Stanley Holloway holds his 79th birthday cake; top left in My Fair Lady and, above, in Passport to Pimlico
A QUICK CHAT: With Hugh Griffith in The Titfield Thunderbolt