Gracie Fields (1898-1979)
“Born over a fish and chip shop owned by her grandmother in Molesworth Street, Rochdale, Lancashire, she made her first stage appearance as a child in 1905. Her professional debut in variety took place at the Rochdale Hippodrome theatre in 1910 and she soon gave up her job in the local cotton mill.
She made the first of ten appearances in Royal Variety Performances in 1928, gaining a devoted following with a mixture of self-deprecating jokes, comic songs and monologues, as well as cheerful “depression-era” songs all presented in a “no-airs-and-graces” northern, working class style. Fields had a great rapport with her audience, which helped her become one of Britain’s highest paid performers, playing to sold out theatres across the country.
Her most famous song, which became her theme, “Sally,” was worked into the title of her first film, Sally in Our Alley (1931), which was a major box office hit. She went on to make several films initially in Britain and later in the United States (for which she was paid a record fee of US$200,000 for four films). Regardless, she never enjoyed the process of performing without a live audience.
Ironically, the final few lines of the song “Sally” were written by her husband’s mistress, and Fields sang this song at nearly every performance she made from 1931 onwards.”
3 years ago
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