Now I Have To Call Him Father
Charles Collins & Fred Godfrey — London: Francis, Day & Hunter; Melbourne: Stanley Mullen; Detroit, New York: Jerome Remick, 1908.
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Fred Godfrey related that he and a rival had just threepence between them when they decided to toss a coin to see who would sell a song to Vesta Victoria. Fred won. This was the song he offered her. It became one of her greatest hits, although she did not record it until 1911.
The plaintive chorus goes:
The song scored right away: “Barrasford’s Hippodrome was again packed last night, and another powerful bill awaited the visitors. Dainty, diverting Vesta Victoria is the chief attraction, and the audience listened to her droll ditties with unrestrained pleasure. Vesta gave a new song last night—‘Now I Have To Call Him Father.’ It fetched the house down” (Sheffield Evening Telegraph, 20 October 1908). Miss Victoria took the song, and her other hits, to the United States, where it also met with success, as the sheet music cover above attests and as the following round-up in The Era reports:
A year later, the song was still going strong at the London Pavilion:
Now I Have To Call Him Father was also sung in numerous pantomimes, including by Gwennie Harcourt in Aladdin, Opera House, Belfast (December 1909). And in 1911, the Hepworth Manufacturing Company released a 375-foot, six-minute comic film directed by Lewin Fitzhamon and based on the tale of the song (“Latest films,” The Stage, 23 February 1911, p. 9; and British Film Institute). Alas, according to Wikipedia, cash-strapped producer Cecil Hepworth destroyed the film in 1924 for its silver nitrate.
Yolande Noble (Columbia D-285, 1909; Columbia-Rena 1144, 1909; Pathé 8148, 1909?)
Ada Jones (Edison 10080, ca. 1909; Columbia Indestructible 976, ca. 1910) [2-min. black wax cylinders]
Kitty Curtis (Clarion 378, 1910; Clarion 759) [cylinders]
Vesta Victoria (HMV GC-3896, 1911); reissued on LP “Music Hall — Top Of The Bill” (EMI SHB-22, 1980); reissued on CD & cassette tape “Monologues & Comic Songs” (Evergreen Melodies C57 [disc], SY1 [tape], 2002/03 catalogue); reissued on 4-CD set “A Night At The Music Hall” (JSP, 2007)
———, in “Vesta Victoria — Old Time Medley” (Regal MR-414, 1931; Columbia DX-290, 1931); reissued on LP “The Greatest Music Hall Bill Ever Assembled” (Music For Pleasure MFP-1146, early 1960s)