When war was declared in 1939, George Formby was at the height of his fame. He was Britain’s number-one film star of all genres that year after a string of hit films and songs during the thirties, including the his famous 1937 track “Leaning on a Lamp Post“. It’s interesting to note that another of George’s songs, ‘With My Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock’ released that same year, was banned by the BBC because of its suggestive lyrics. His songs such as ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’ were particularly popular during the Second World War.
It may surprise many people to learn that George was also the UK’s highest earner, thanks to his wife who tightly managed his career and had a somewhat fearsome reputation within show business. In 1934 George signed a contract to make a further 11 films with Associated Talking Pictures, earning him a then astronomical £100,000 per year.
Throughout World War 2, Formby remained a popular entertainment figure, entertaining troops with Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) in Europe and North Africa during World War II. It is estimated that George Formby performed for three million allied service personnel during the war. For his service he was awarded an OBE in 1946.
In 1940, when this Pathé news reel was made, George and his wife,Beryl, were the first to arrive to entertain the British troops. The film has a light-hearted feel but the situation soon became very serious when the British and French lines collapsed. George and his wife were the last entertainers out as the British troops pulled back and were evacuated from Dunkirk.
Wartime Slingsby Exhibition: April 26th
Come and find out about Slingsby’s wartime associations; from the Wars of the Roses, the Civil War, and preparations for war in the village from the Napoleonic wars up until the second world war, when the village was a centre for troop training and munitions storage, and welcomed evacuees.
For more details about the Wartime Slingsby Exhibition taking place on April 26th CLICK HERE