Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Well-Dressed Music-Hall Star

Imagine having your leg amputated at 82! This happened to Albert Whelan, one of the most famous Australian music-hall entertainers. Yet he still made appearances and even did a stint on the BBC TV show, Life Begins at Eighty. One has to admire this kind of attitude!

Born in in Melbourne in 1875 as Albert Waxman, he made his start by singing for the miners in the goldfields in Western Australia. He changed his name and became part of the musical comedy team, Whelan & Wilson.

Whelan must have been extremely ambitious because he soon went to London. He made his debut as a dancer and singer at London's Empire Theatre in 1901. He was very versatile - he could play the piano and the violin, sing comic songs, and tell funny stories.

He toured the United States and appeared with Anna Pavlova at the Palace Theatre in 1912. I wonder what she thought of him! She might not have liked his singing, but she probably approved of his appearance. He always dressed immaculately for the stage. His outfit included an opera cloak, top hat and tails and white gloves.

Whelan was the first person to use a signature tune - The Jolly Brothers - which he whistled at the beginning and end of his performance.

Albert Whelan died in 1961.

Here he is singing with his son Gordon at the piano.

Albert Whelan Sings My Secret Passion

1 comment:

Hels said...

*nod* he was very handsomely dressed! And he could play both the piano and the violin... what a bloke.

Albert must have had a very long career, as well. From the gold fields to WW2 was pretty damn impressive.