The following newspaper review of ‘The Greatest of all Burlesque Shows’ appeared in ‘The Era’ on 10th February 1926:
‘An item of much interest was provided for the Willesden patrons last week by the presence on the programme of Mr Arthur Hands, the eminent flautist from the Covent Garden Opera, etc.
Mr Hands’ impeccable techniques and clarity of tone were shown to great advantage in a series of well-selected morceaux, including the ever-popular “Softly Awakes My Heart” from Saint-Saens Opera, “Samson and Delilah,” and the audience were greatly appreciative of this novel and attractive musical turn.
Another prime favourite with the Willesden folk was sturdy Mr Sammy Shields, always up-to-date, put in some very apposite references to the local Queen’s Park Rangers football team which brought the house down, and at the end he was called specially before the curtains to answer vociferous demands for “Encore”.
Clever speciality items were provided by Messrs James and Fred Watson, electrical experts, and Les Stadium, a pair of athletes (lady and gentleman), who excited many thrills.
Mr Whit Cunliffe has an undoubted flair for finding good numbers, and also the further ability to do them full justice. Such songs as “So This is London” and “My Newspaper” are a credit to the Music Halls, just as Whit is one of our most able artists.
Another top-line attraction was the El Dorado Band, an energetic and talented combination presented by the Paris Productions Co. Ltd, and personally supervised by Mr Norman Parry.
Aiding and abetting the band in a jazz cabaret were Miss Queenie May and Mr Dan Polo, whilst the Martinis took the opportunity of presenting their elegant dancing act amid such suitable surroundings.
Others on the long and excellent programme were; Miss Betty Rowland, a powerful contralto, Miss Daisy James, the popular comedienne, with three good songs, and Mr Tom Stuart, whose clever burlesque impressions found a very appreciative response from the audience.’
QPR had drawn 1-1 at home to Brentford the previous week and I would love to have known exactly what Sammy Shields said about the Rangers that night?
Sammy was born outside Glasgow in 1878 and was well known for performing “The Football Enthusiast” around the country.
The Willesden Hippodrome was opened in 1907 and was actually located in Harlesden High Street.
When it was taken over by ABC in 1930, it then became a cinema and near the end of the decade it reverted back to being mainly a Music Hall.
It was virtually destroyed during the Blitz in 1940 and the building’s remains were finally demolished in 1957.
(My thanks to Colin Woodley for uncovering the newspaper article and also to Brian Russell for the use of his programme. The image of Sammy Shields was taken from a cigarette card in my collection)