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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Now I Have To Call Him Father

Listen to
Vesta Victoria’s 1911
recording for HMV


The American issue,
published by Jerome Remick.

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:

He used to come and court his little Mary Ann.
I used to think that he was my young man.
But Mother caught his eye and they got married on the sly.
Now I have to call him FATHER!

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:

Miss Vesta Victoria has returned to this country once more with a remarkable record of American successes....“Now I have to call him father” [has] been sung and chortled by the most sedate of audiences in the principal vaudeville theatres in New York, Boston, and other cities. The Yankee critics admit that British song-writers have the monopoly of numbers that are comically descriptive of domestic trials and “home life,” and, incidentally, they tell us it is only artists like Vesta Victoria who can extract the real fun of such ditties. (“Variety Gossip,” The Era, 27 February 1909, p. 22)

A year later, the song was still going strong at the London Pavilion:

The domestic comedy of the mean street has been almost invariably a source of merriment at the halls....Miss Vesta Victoria...has a delightful aptitude for such songs, and the great ability with which she interprets them has been recognised quite as universally in the United States as in the United Kingdom....“Now I have to call him father,” the song that has captured two hemispheres, is the final triumph of the popular lady, who is cheered to the echo. (“London Pavilion,” The Era, 15 January 1910, p. 19)

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.



Florrie Forde (Zonophone 160, 1909; Regal T-160, 1909)

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)