Dorothy Ward (1890–1987)
Music Hall historian W. Macqueen-Pope describes Dorothy Ward as
a handsome and striking woman, with auburn hair, wonderful carriage and fine figure....Tights become her, they are second nature to her and she understands pantomime and its topsy turviness. To see her as “Jack” in Jack and the Beanstalk defy the giant outside his castle, wearing shining armour and then join in mortal combat with him in his own kitchen, clad in trailing clouds of gauze and silk, is to witness true pantomime....[She] left the halls plenty of fine songs.1
Ward remained one of Britain’s most popular Variety stars through the 1930s. Her off-stage life had an element of notoriety about it, and she was linked romantically to, among others, the Scottish aviator Jim Mollison.2
For details about the lives and careers of Dorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville, as well as a collection of interesting photographs, see the website: http://www.its-behind-you.com/wardglenville.html.
Dorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville were good friends of Fred Godfrey’s, and both sang his songs — she was just seventeen when she performed his Meet Me Jenny When The Sun Goes Down in pantomime in Belfast in 1908. Ward is known to have recorded four Godfrey songs: Blue Eyes (Regal G-7170, 1915); Tommys Learning French (Regal G-7219, 1915); I Love My Motherland (Regal G-7418, 1916); and, most famously of all, Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty (Regal G-7398, 1916), which she said Godfrey wrote for her in her living room.3
In addition, from sheet music covers and other sources, Ward also performed Godfrey’s Its The Way They Have In The Navy (1914, pre-war); Im Coming Back To Old Kilkenny (1915); Take Me Back To Your Heart (1915); You Were The First One To Teach Me To Love (1916); Down Texas Way (1917); Open Your Heart And Let The Sunshine In (1920); Till You Come Back Again (1926); Arm In Arm Together (1931); and There Is Always A Silver Lining (1939) — a span of more than thirty years of featuring Godfrey’s songs in her act, surely a rarity in the entertainment world on either side of the Atlantic. .
In February 1916, The Era reported; “Miss Dorothy Ward continues to make an enormous success with the Star’s beautiful number, ‘You were the first one to teach me to love,’ by Fred Godfrey, Ronald F. Wakley, and Bennett Scott at the Grand, Leeds, where she plays principal boy in the very successful pantomime. Mr. Shaun Glenville, both as a sham musical director, and in other comedy business, does much to enhance the attractiveness of this big vocal hit.”4
1 W. MacQueen-Pope, The Melodies Linger On: The Story of Music
Hall (London: W.H. Allen, 1950), pp. 339–40.