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George Formby on screen, stage, record and radio Formby in the early s, when still playing John Willie On 8 February Formby Sr succumbed to his bronchial condition and died, at the age of 45; he was buried in the Catholic section of Warrington Cemetery. While there, they visited the Victoria Palace Theatre —where Formby Sr had previously been so successful—and saw a performance by the Tyneside comedian Tommy Dixon.
As a result he experienced frequent periods of unemployment—up to three months at one point. She instructed him on how to use his hands, and how to work his audience. She also persuaded him to change his stage dress to black tie —although he appeared in a range of other costumes too—and to take lessons in how to play the ukulele properly.
One of the songs he recorded in July was "Chinese Laundry Blues", telling the story of Mr Wu, which became one of his standard songs, and part of a long-running series of songs about the character.
Although he expressed an interest in Formby, he did not like the associated demands from Beryl. She also met the representative of Warner Bros. Three weeks later Formby was approached by John E. Monty Banks directed, and Florence Desmond took the female lead. The writer Matthew Sweet describes the set as "a battleground" because of her actions, and Banks unsuccessfully requested that Dean bar Beryl from the studio.
Regarding the star of the film, the reviewer thought that "our Lancashire George is a grand lad; he can gag and clown, play the banjo and sing with authority The plots were geared to Formby trying to achieve success in a field unfamiliar to him in horse racing, the TT Races, as a spy or a policeman , and by winning the affections of a middle-class girl in the process. The songs are, in the words of the academic Brian McFarlane, "unpretentiously skilful in their balance between broad comedy and action, laced with Tensions arose in pre-production with Banks and some of the cast requesting to Dean that Beryl be banned from the set.
Tempers had also become strained between Formby and Desmond, who were not on speaking terms except to film scenes.
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The situation became so bad that Dean avoided visiting his studios for the month of filming. The BBC relented and started to broadcast the song. Beryl objected strongly, and Kimmins continued his directorial duties, while Ward was brought in for the female lead. Every year afterwards he would purchase either a new Rolls Royce or Bentley , buying 26 over the course of his life.
He and Beryl also set up their own charities, such as the OK Club for Kids, whose aim was to provide cigarettes for Yorkshire soldiers,  and the Jump Fund, to provide home-knitted balaclavas, scarves and socks to servicemen. The examining board rejected him as being unfit, because he had sinusitis and arthritic toes.
When the season came to an end the Formbys moved to London and, in May , performed for the royal family at Windsor Castle. King George VI presented Formby with a set of gold cuff links, and advised him to "wear them, not put them away". Formby set up his own company, Hillcrest Productions, to distribute the films, and had the final decision on the choice of director, scriptwriter and theme, while Columbia would have the choice of leading lady.
He returned to the mainland by way of the Isle of Man, where he entertained the troops guarding the internment camps. Although the film was poorly received by the critics, the public still attended in large numbers, and the film was profitable.
The society began a campaign against the entertainment industry, claiming all theatrical activity on a Sunday were unethical, and cited a law which made it illegal.
With 60 leading entertainers already avoiding Sunday working, Dean informed Formby that his stance would be crucial in avoiding a spread of the problem. Although Dean personally disliked the Formbys, he greatly admired the tireless work they did for the organisation.
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He said that the troops "were worrying quite a lot about you folks at home, but we soon put them right about that. We told them that after four and a half years, Britain was still the best country to live in".
A week later, on 1 February, the committee met and decided the songs were innocuous, although Formby was told that he would have to get further clearance if the lyrics were changed. The comments, which appeared in the forces magazine Union Jack, were then widely reported in the press in Britain. He and Beryl travelled over on a rough crossing to Arromanches giving a series of impromptu concerts to troops in improvised conditions, including on the backs of farm carts and army lorries, or in bomb-cratered fields.
During dinner with General Bernard Montgomery , whom he had met in North Africa, Formby was invited to visit the glider crews of 6th Airborne Division, who had been holding a series of bridges without relief for 56 days.
He did so on 17 August in a one-day visit to the front line bridges, where he gave nine shows, all standing beside a sandbag wall, ready to jump into a slit trench in case of problems; much of the time his audience were in foxholes. We do however know and so does Formby, that certain lines in the lyric must not be broadcast". The story concerns the rivalry between two pubs: The film was less successful at the box office than his previous works, as audience tastes had changed in the post-war world.
Fisher opines that because of his tireless war work, Formby had become too synonymous with the war, causing the public to turn away from him, much as they had from the wartime British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.
In early Beryl checked him into a psychiatric hospital under her maiden name, Ingham. He came out after five weeks, in time for a tour of Scandinavia in May. While there they refused to play racially-segregated venues. His smile, though fixed, is winning, and his songs He began suffering increasing health problems including a gastric ulcer, and was treated for breathing problems from his heavy smoking.
While subsequently appearing in Cinderella in Leeds, he collapsed in his dressing room. The attending doctor administered morphine , to which Formby briefly became addicted.
On the way to the theatre to inform Littler, Formby suffered a heart attack, although it took the doctors five days to diagnose the coronary and admit him to hospital. He was treated for both the attack, and his morphine addiction. That September he turned on the Blackpool Illuminations.
Even though my act was the star spot, I felt on this occasion that my being there was an anti-climax". He requested that the order be changed to have Formby close the show, but this was turned down. Although the show was initially scheduled to run for 13 weeks, it was cut short after six when Formby suffered again from dysentery and depression.
He again announced his retirement, but continued to work. For Christmas he appeared in his first London pantomime, playing Idle Jack in Dick Whittington and His Cat at the Palace Theatre, although he withdrew from the run in early February after suffering from laryngitis.
By the time it reached Brighton the play was playing to increasingly small audiences, and the run was cut short as a result. When the show closed Formby was disappointed, and vowed never to appear in another stage musical. The year was professionally quiet for him; in addition to Beside the Seaside, he also worked in one-off appearances in three television shows. During the summer season he appeared at the Windmill Theatre, Great Yarmouth , although he missed two weeks of performances when he was involved in a car crash on the August Bank Holiday.
He also had high blood pressure, was overweight and had heart problems. George Formby, was aired on 16 December. She went on to say "George Formby is really a music-hall star, and it needs the warmth and sociability of the theatre to bring out his full appeal".