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Monday, 11 March 2013

Jessie Matthews born 11 March 1907

Jessie Matthews, OBE (March 11, 1907 - August 19, 1981) was a popular English actress, dancer, and singer of the 1930s, whose career continued into the post-war period.

Matthews was born March 11, 1907 in Soho London, in relative poverty, one of sixteen children of a fruit and vegetable seller. She debuted on stage December 29, 1919, in Bluebell in Fairyland, by Seymour Hicks, music by Charles
Taylor, at the Metropolitan Music Hall, Edgware Road, London, as a child dancer; she made her film debut in 1923 in the silent film The Beloved Vagabond.

Matthews was acclaimed in the UK as a dancer and as the first performer of numerous popular songs of the 1920s and 1930s, including "A Room with a View" and London Calling! by Noël Coward and "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love" by Cole Porter. After a string of hit stage musicals and films in the mid-1930s, Matthews developed a following in the USA, where she was dubbed "The Dancing Divinity". Her British studio was reluctant to let go of its biggest name, which
resulted in offers for her to work in Hollywood being repeatedly, and on her part reluctantly, rejected.

Matthews' fame reached its initial height with her lead role the 1932 stage production of Ever Green, a musical by Rodgers and Hart that was partly inspired by the life of music hall star Marie Lloyd, and her daughter's tribute act resurrection of her mothers' acclaimed Edwardian stage show as Marie Lloyd Junior. At its time Ever Green was the most expensive musical ever mounted on a London stage. The 1934 cinematic adaptation (Evergreen) featured the newly composed song Over My Shoulder which was to go on to become Matthews' personal theme song, later giving its title to her autobiography and to a 21st century musical stage show of her life.


                  Tinkle Tinkle Tinkle / Over My Shoulder. Recorded 4 May, 1935.

Her distinctive warbling voice and round cheeks made her a familiar and much-loved personality to British theatre and film audiences at the beginning of World War II, but her popularity waned in the 1940s after a string of only moderately successful films (then being directed by soon to be ex-husband Sonnie Hale). As fashions changed her carefully-cultivated accent was often parodied for being affectedly posh.

After a few false starts as a straight actress she played Tom Thumb's mother in the 1958 children's film, and during the 1960s found new fame when she took over the leading role of Mary Dale in the BBC's long-running radio serial, 'The Dales', formerly 'Mrs Dale's Diary'. (She later took the lead role in the play The Killing of Sister George - filmed
starring Beryl Reid - which has connections with the radio character she had played until the serial was axed.)

Live theatre and variety shows remained the mainstay of Matthews' work through the 1950s and 1960s, with successful tours of Australia and South Africa interspersed with periods of less glamorous but welcome work in British provincial theatre and pantomimes. She became a stalwart nostalgia feature of TV variety shows such as The Night Of A Thousand Stars and The Good Old Days.

Matthews was awarded a well-deserved OBE in 1970 and continued to make cabaret and occasional film and television appearances through the decade including one-off guest roles
in the popular BBC series Angels and an episode of the ITV mystery anthology Tales of the Unexpected.

She took her one-woman stage show to Los Angeles in 1979, and, at the age of 72, won the United States Drama Logue Award for the year's best performance in concert. She had suffered from periods of ill-health throughout her life and eventually died of cancer at the age of 74 in Britain. (info Wikipedia)

Spoilt for chice regarding video clips of Jessie, but I have chosen this one. The exotic dance number from the 1936 film "It's Love Again."

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