Charles Robert William "Bobby" Howes (4 August 1895 – 27 April 1972) was a British entertainer who was a leading musical comedy performer in London's West End theatres in the 1930s and 1940s.[1][2]

Bobby Howes
Charles Robert William Howes

(1895-08-04)4 August 1895
Chelsea, London, England
Died27 April 1972(1972-04-27) (aged 76)
London, England
SpousePatricia Malone (1922–1948) 2 Children

Biography edit

Born in Chelsea[3][4] and raised in Battersea, Surrey, his parents were Robert William Howes and Rose Marie Butler. After leaving school, he started an apprenticeship as an electrical engineer, but in 1909 after auditioning at the Battersea Palace for female-impersonator Sable Fern, he made his professional debut the same day playing a boy scout.[5] He remained with Fern for over a year before joining The Six White Boys and then the Gotham Quartet.[5] His career was interrupted for the First World War where he soldiered on the Western Front. He suffered a German mustard gas attack but recovered and resumed his career when he got a part (along with Tommy Handley) in the Seasoned To Taste revue at The Metropolitan Theatre.[5] In 1923, he made his West End debut in The Little Revue at 9, followed by The Second Little Revue, both at The Little Theatre.[5]

After a succession of parts in several plays, he gained a career break-through with the role-reversal comedy Mr. Cinders, based on the Cinderella pantomime, also featuring Binnie Hale, with whom he appeared on many occasions subsequently.[5][6] He reprised his title role in Mr. Cinders in several different productions.

In the 1930s, he was with Van Phillips' Four Bright Sparks whose vocalists included Billy Milton. [7] Four Bright Sparks recorded at least 60 sides. He was a leading musical comedy performer on the West End in the 1930s and 1940s, appearing in productions including For the Love of Mike, Tell Her the Truth, Yes Madam?, and Please Teacher.[5][8] In 1945 he made his pantomime debut, playing Buttons in Cinderella at the Victoria Palace.[5]

He married Patricia Malone in March 1922.[9] Together they had two children - actress/singer Sally Ann Howes and musician Peter Howes, before divorcing in 1948.[10][11] He performed with his daughter in 1953 in the musical Paint Your Wagon.[5]

He continued onstage, including Broadway, and in films and television (notably in The Dickie Henderson Show) until he retired in the late 1960s.[5] One of his most acclaimed roles was as the eponymous lead in Finian's Rainbow when it was revived on Broadway in 1960.[12]

In April 1964, he was fined £10 after admitting a charge of indecent exposure.[13]

He died on 27 April 1972, aged 76, in London, England.[1][14]

Filmography edit

Television edit

  • Douglas Fairbanks Presents: "Point of View" – US airdate 14 May 1956 – episode 4.14[131] – Filmed at the British National Studios, Elstree, England
  • Curtains For Harry (1955) – as Harry Bates – single episode show
  • Out of This World (1950) – Proposed series that had only one episode, 15 November 1950, Wed 8.30 pm
  • Such Is Life (1950) – played 'the little man struggling with his conscience' in this themed sketch series. 5 episodes, 30 mins each, 24 Apr-19 June 1950 – fortnightly Mon around 9 pm
  • Paging You (1946) – episode No. 4

Theatre edit

Other live performances edit

Discography edit

  • Finian's Rainbow (1960)
  • Paint Your Wagon (1953)
  • She's My Lovely (1940s?)
  • Yes, Madam (1934) – with Binnie Hale
  • "I'm a One-man Girl" – with Binnie Hale, 78 from Mr. Cinders
  • The Blue Train (1927)
  • Rudolf Friml in London (1923–30) – Derek Oldham, Edith Day, Ethel Levey, Bobby Howes, Roy Royston, Dennis Kings, et al., from 78s.

Product endorsements edit

  • Ardath Cigarette Cards, No. 28 of 50. Issued by Ardath Tobacco Co. in England.
  • British Film Stars cigarette cards issued in England by W.A. & A.C. Churchman in 1934. He was card No. 14.

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Bobby Howes". Archived from the original on 11 June 2018. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  2. ^ McFarlane, Brian (2016). The Encyclopedia of British Film: Fourth edition. Manchester University Press. p. 1988. ISBN 978-1-5261-1196-8.
  3. ^ "Five Feet Comedian's Unique Acting Powers". Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette. 13 May 1933. Retrieved 10 November 2023 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  4. ^ "Who's Who". Picturegoer. 10 July 1937. Retrieved 10 November 2023 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Orchard, Peter. Bobby Howes - She's My Lovely (Media notes). The World Record Club Ltd.
  6. ^ "Production of Mr Cinders – Theatricalia".
  7. ^ Rayno, Don (2012). Paul Whiteman: Pioneer in American Music, 1930–1967. Scarecrow Press. p. 382. ISBN 978-0-8108-8322-2.
  8. ^ "Bobby Howes – Biography & History". AllMusic.
  9. ^ "Violent Violet". Picturegoer. 13 August 1938. Retrieved 10 November 2023 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  10. ^ "Sally Ann Howes". Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  11. ^ "Married Again". Manchester Evening News. 14 December 1950. Retrieved 10 November 2023 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  12. ^ League, The Broadway. "Bobby Howes – Broadway Cast & Staff – IBDB".
  13. ^ "Bobby Howes Fined". Sunday Mirror. 12 April 1964. Retrieved 10 November 2023 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  14. ^ "Bobby Howes". Birmingham Daily Post. 28 April 1972. Retrieved 10 November 2023 – via British Newspaper Archive.

External links edit