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George Formby, When I'm Cleaning Windows



The world’s image of the friendly, banjo-playing ‘lad next door’, on the silver screen George Formby kept the spirit of music-hall slapstick and saucy seaside levity alive during the years of Depression and Wartime. A top British and Commonwealth box-office draw between years 1935 and 1945, England’s favourite screen comedian was born George Hoy Booth in a Wigan terrace house, on 26th May 1904. The eldest of a large family, George had the stage and a native performing instinct in his blood, for his father, George Formby Sr. (alias James Lawler Booth, 1975-1921) was a celebrated Edwardian musichall comedian who, after rising from dire poverty, had acquired national fame through musical-hall and recordings, before dying prematurely from tuberculosis. George was ‘discovered’ for the screen by Ealing producer (and former actor) Basil Dean (1888-1978). Dean, who later attributed George’s success to sheer force of personality, assessed his dramatic talents thus: “Fortunately he had a very shrewd idea of his own capabilities, and was always determined never to step outside them . . . That wide grin of his seemed to spread across the screen . . . George never acted gormless like some successful comedians. He was gormless, so far as the audience was concerned,and they took him to their hearts accordingly.

George Formby, When I'm Cleaning Windows