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Gracie Fields

The strength of Gracie Fields' superb soprano voice transported the actress and singer from her humble start in a small Lancashire backstreet to her position many years later as a Dame of the British Empire. Born in 1898 above a shop in the town of Rochdale, her 60 years in music and movies survived the war years and a batch of related negative publicity, a battle against cancer of the cervix, and three husbands.

Fields, who was born Gracie Stansfield, started her career in traveling British troupes while earning extra money with factory work. Her acquaintance with Archie Pitt, a comedian, gave her fledgling career a boost when he began to promote her in earnest. The two first worked together in a revue called Yes, I Think So in 1915. More revues followed, and in 1923, Pitt wed the future star. Two years later, Fields and Pitt brought a highly successful revue to the Alhambra Theatre in London and went on the road with the production for almost a decade. Fields was officially a star at this point, and quite wealthy as well. In following years, her productions became standing-room-only events. She and Pitt eventually divorced.

The singer appeared in a total of 16 films, beginning with Sally in Our Alley in 1931. The song "Sally," which became her theme, was taken from the movie. Interestingly, over the following years, Fields came to despise the ditty. Before her movie career was through, she was pulling in more money per picture than any other actress of the day in the U.K. Movies, however, were not something she enjoyed doing, even though Hollywood beckoned in the form of a Twentieth Century Fox contract. By the end of the decade she was a popular recording star and had toured several continents.

Following her appearance in the movie Shipyard Sally in 1939, Fields was diagnosed with cancer of the cervix. Fans across the world showered her with their love and concern, packed into more than a quarter-million pieces of mail. Following surgery, she retreated to the Isle of Capri, accompanied by Monty Banks, a movie director she met on the set of Queen of Hearts, and Mary Davey, a woman who acted as Fields' companion. Still quite ill when World War II erupted, Fields nevertheless insisted on entertaining British troops that were stationed in France. The singer wed Banks, an Italian, in 1940. During wartime, Italians faced being branded enemy aliens, as well as the possibility of internment that accompanied such a label. Fields sidestepped the tricky quagmire threatening her new husband and marriage by accepting concerts in North America. The resulting publicity was furiously negative back home in the U.K., where she was perceived as fleeing her country in its time of need. Despite the roasting her country's newspapers gave her, Fields continued to raise money for England's war effort, and in the end, the total amounted to more than a half-million dollars. She went home to England and performed there twice during the early '40s. She also appeared many times on radio. A heart attack killed Banks aboard the Orient Express in 1950. Fields found her third husband in Boris Alperovici. She passed away in 1979, the victim of a heart attack. ~ Linda Seida
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: British Comedy - Diamond Jubilee Edition

1. Phoney Folk-Lore

2. Lolly Commercial

3. The Society Wedding Stakes

4. The Royal Box

5. My Boomerang Won't Come Back

6. Holiday Commercial

7. Stop Press

8. Drats

9. Football Results

11. Song Of The Australian Outlaw

12. Get It Right Corporal!

13. You Need Feet

14. Lovely Lunch

15. A Letter From Bill

16. Goodness Gracious Me

17. The Gnu Song

18. Green Grow My Nadgers Oh!

19. Ton Up Boy

20. Gossip Calypso

21. Mad Passionate Love

22. Impressions

23. Right Said Fred

24. I'm The Pest Of Budapest

27. We Can't Let You Broadcast That

28. Everything Is Fresh Today

29. Peaceful Street

30. Recumbent Posture

32. My Little Austin Seven

34. Tommy Trinder's Stage Show

35. Maudie The Racehorse

37. London Transport Board

40. Upp'ards

41. On The Day That Chelsea Went And Won The Cup

42. Max Miller In The Theatre

43. She Was Poor, But She Was Honest

44. The Stately Homes Of England

45. Clothes

46. Ten Pahnds Dahn

47. Max With The Forces

49. Mrs. Worthington

52. Don't Let's Be Beastly To The Germans

55. Where Does Poor Pa Go In The Blackout?

56. King Canute

57. Trains

59. It's That Man Again

62. At The Court Of Good Queen Bess

64. The Biggest Aspidistra In The World

65. Who Is That Man (Who Looks Like Charlie Chaplin?)

67. Keeping A Stiff Upper

68. The Green Tie On The Little Yellow Dog

70. Play Up And Pay The Dame

71. Band Wagon

72. What Does It Matter?

73. Percy The Prawn

74. Nell

75. The Food Demonstration

76. Is 'E An Aussie, Lizzie, Is 'E?

77. Pets

78. Mad Dogs And Englishmen

80. The Home Guard

81. The Proposal

x

Track List: Funny War Songs

3. Der Fuhrer's Face

4. Mad Dogs And Englishmen

5. La Di Da Di Da

6. Walter, Walter (Lead Me To The Altar)

7. I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream

8. My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes

9. I Took My Harp To A Party

10. The Sun Has Got His Hat On

11. Hey, Little Hen

12. Life Begins At Forty

13. You Can't Blame Me For That

14. Makin' Whoopee

15. Thirty Thirsty Throats

16. The Prune Song

17. Minnie The Moocher

18. I Want A Banana

19. Dry Bones

20. Your Feet's Too Big

21. Blitzkrieg Baby (You Can't Bomb Me)

24. Corns For My Country

x

Track List: Ha! Ha! 24 Great Comedy Songs

1. Inka Dinka Do

4. Triplets

6. I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much)

8. I'm My Own Grandpa

9. Woodman, Woodman Spare That Tree

10. Flat Foot Floogie

11. Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! That Cigarette

12. We're Gonna Hang Out The Washing On The Siegfried Line

13. When I'm Cleaning Windows

14. Mary From The Dairy

15. The Bee Song

16. Everything Is Fresh Today

17. The Laughing Policeman

18. The Lion And Albert

20. The Stately Homes Of England

21. The Biggest Aspidistra In The World

22. There's No One With Endurance Like The Man Who Sells Insurance

23. When You're Smiling

24. Somebody Stole My Gal

x

Track List: Over Twenty Fun Songs

1. The Laughing Policeman

2. I Should Say So

3. Under The Bed

5. Mad Dogs And Englishmen

7. Everything Is Fresh

8. The Battle Of Hastings

9. My Mother Doesn't Know I'm On The Stage

10. What Can You Buy A Nudist For His Birthday?

11. A Surrealist Alphabet

12. When I'm Cleaning Windows

13. Gardening - What To Do With Your Aspidistra

14. There Are Fairies At The Bottom Of Our Garden

15. The Woman Inprover

16. The Bee Song

17. Yorkshire Pudding

18. Themselves / The Dance Of The Cuckoos

19. There's No One With Endurance Like The Man Who Sells Insurance

20. Cocktails For Two

21. Joe Goes Up - I Come Down

22. The Thing

x

Track List: The History Boys (Soundtrack)

1. Wish Me Luck

2. Blue Monday

3. This Charming Man

5. Mustapha Dance

7. Never Stop

8. A Forest

9. Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag

13. Walk Out To Winter

14. 2000 Miles

x

Track List: The Songs Of Hoagy Carmichael: My Stardust Melody...

1. Stardust

2. Riverboat Shuffle

3. Washboard Blues

4. Rockin' Chair

5. Georgia On My Mind

6. Lazy River

7. Lazybones

9. Sing Me A Swing Song And Let Me Dance

10. Little Old Lady

11. The Nearness Of You

12. Small Fry

14. Two Sleepy People

16. Blue Orchids

17. Can't Get Indiana Off My Mind

18. Skylark

19. The Lamplighter's Serenade

21. Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief

22. Ole Buttermilk Sky

23. Ivy

24. My Resistance Is Low

25. In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening

x

Track List: You Have To Laugh, Don't You?

1. The Laughing Policeman

2. I Should Say So

3. Under The Bed

4. Trains

5. Mad Dogs And Englishmen

7. Everything Is Fresh Today

10. What Can You Give A Nudist On His Birthday?

11. A Surrealist Alphabet

12. When I'm Cleaning Windows

13. Gardening - What To Do With Your Aspidistra

14. There Are Fairies At The Bottom Of Our Garden

15. The Woman Improver

16. The Bee Song

17. Yorkshire Pudding

18. Themselves & Dance Of Cuckoos

20. Cocktails For Two

21. Joe Goes Up - I Come Down

22. The Thing

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