Monday, August 17, 2009

LUPINO LANE: Fandango (1928)

Lupino Lane

From Wikipedia...

Henry William George Lupino or Lupino Lane (June 16, 1892 London – November 10, 1959 London) was a British-born actor and theatre manager from the Lupino family. Lane appeared in a wide range of theatrical and film performances but he is best known for playing Bill Snibson in the play and film Me and My Girl which popularised the Lambeth walk.

Theatrical family

He was born Henry William George Lupino into a theatrical family that often claimed that they could trace their roots back to an Italian immigrant in the 17th century. He adopted the surname Lane from his great-aunt Sarah Lane (1822-1899, née Borrow), the director of the Britannia Theatre, Hoxton. Lane married actress Violet Blythe on 10 February 1917, and their son was also an actor, Lauri Lupino Lane (1921–1986). His brother, Wallace Lupino (1898–1961) was an actor, as was Wallace's son, Richard.

Henry and Wallace Lupino's niece, Ida Lupino, the daughter of actors Stanley Lupino (1893–1942) and Connie Emerald (1892–1959), was the most famous member of this acting family.

Early career

Harry Lupino and Lupino Lane, in Jack and Jill, 1907-8 at The Prince's Theatre, Bristol

Lupino Lane made his first stage appearance at the age of four in a benefit in Birmingham for Vesta Tilley. His London début was made in 1903 as Nipper Lane at the London Pavilion.

He worked hard as a performer steadily making his way towards the top of the bill. In 1915, he appeared at the Empire Theatre and played comic roles in theatre and film on both sides of the Atlantic from then on. Lane and Blythe were both in the Broadway musical Afgar, at the Central Theatre, in 1921, and then Lane appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1924 at the New Amsterdam Theatre, from June 1924 to March 1925, and subsequently played Ko-Ko in The Mikado on Broadway in 1925 and received good reviews.

Lane appeared regularly in both British and US silent films. His film career started in 1915 in a series of British short films. As a comedy actor, he appeared in 40 Hollywood films made in the 1920s. He was known for his acrobatic ability and versatility playing 25 characters in one film.

British career in the 1930s

Lane returned to the United Kingdom in the 1920s. In the early 1920s, he appeared in a range of theatrical performances. He dived through seventy-four stage traps in three minutes while performing in a 1921 pantomime show of Aladdin at the Hippodrome in 6 minutes, he was being followed by a demon.

He made his first appearance as Bill Snibson in Twenty to One written by L. Arthur Rose and Frank Eyton with music by Billy Mayerl. Lane co-produced this play with Sir Oscar Stoll. The production in which Snibson was a tout was a big hit playing on the West End for a year starting from November 1935 and going on a long British tour after that.

Me and my Girl, the follow up written by Rose and Douglas Furber with music by Noel Gay, was an even bigger hit. Snibson inherited a country estate and invites his mates from Lambeth to stay with him. It featured a hit song and dance routine from Lane called the Lambeth Walk which became popular throughout Europe in the late 1930s. Lane directed and produced the show as well as starring in it for 1550 performances between 1937 and 1940. It was the first British musical comedy to be televised and was made into a film in 1939 . The film was known as Lambeth Walk due to the popularity of the dance.

Subsequent career

The success of Me and my Girl made Lane a rich man. In 1946, after damage sustained during World War II, he purchased the shell of the Gaiety Theatre in the Aldwych to rescue it from dereliction, and provide a permanent home for comedic performance. He failed to win the financial backing to refurbish it and sold it in 1950. The theatre was demolished in 1956.

Lupino Lane died on November 10, 1959 in London, England at age 67 . Violet Blyth died 17 March 1983, aged 93.

Lupino Lane is buried at Streatham Park Cemetery and his memorial was recently restored by The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America.


Peppo the Clown said...

... And he is the author of a marvelous book, "How to became a comedian" (1945), a book every clown should read and study.

John Achorn said...

Thanks Pat for sharing this short - I've had a small collection of his films for a while but have never seent his one; how cool of you to share him with your readers -- I think he's one of the great physical comics and derive a lot of Arlecchino stunts from his work.

Mike Naughton said...

Me and My Girl/Broadway
The Lambeth Walk

Look for the veteran character actress Jane Connell in this clip as the older matron.

John said...

You may hear a Brit refering to someone as "His Nibs". That expression derives from the name of the character Bill Snibson in "Me And My Girl"