Celebrity for the week ending
Saturday, 2 October 2009

Wee Georgie Wood (1895-1979),
English music hall comedian and sketch artist

Wee Georgie Wood
Wee Georgie Wood

(photo: Fielding, Leeds, circa 1920)

'ATTACKING THE STAGE MORALS
'Prominent London Comedian Says Immorality Is Appalling and Draws Several Hot Replies'
'By CHAS. McCANN
'(United Press Staff Correspondent.)
'London, July 23 [1923]. - ''Don't let your women go on the stage. It's immorality is appalling.''
'''It is almost impossible for a girl to be what she ought to be if she goes on the stage. Unless she has money, a man, or a manager to help her through, it is a terrible difficulty for her to get anywhere at all with her career.''
'That is an actor's view of the British stage, even by ''Wee Georgie'' Wood, a famous comedian, at a Rotary Club dinner at Manchester, when he was made a member of the club.
'London actors, actresses, and managers say, it is not true.
'The accusation struck them like a blow in the face. Wood is one of them -a veteran and a leader - but he is the least-liked man on the stage just now.
'Cochran Says It's Libel.
'''I never heard such a gross libel in my life,'' said Charles B. Cochran, England's greatest producer.
'''Perhaps no man has had more experience of stage life than I have, and I can say definitely that there are only two things which will get a girl ahead on the stage - talent and hard work.
'''A girl may go wrong and a man may, through influence, get a girl on the stage; but she won't stay there long in a good show without both talent and hard work. The audience are the judges, and no amount of booming or boosting will keep a girl in a big post unless she has talent.
''''Wee Georgie' Wood's statement is absolute rot, and wicked rot at that.''
'''It is talent, and nothing else that counts on the stage today'' said Miss Barbara Gott, leading lady in Lilac Time at the Lyric.
'''I had neither influence nor money behind me, and have climed [sic] from small parts to leads, and I know scores of actresses on both the variety and legitimate stage who have done as I have done.
'''There are temptations on the stage in all walks of life, but to say that this is the rule rather than the exception is a wicked libel.''
'Playing and Being.
'Another of Wood's statements in his speech was:
'''It is almost impossible for an actor night after night to play at love without feeling it. If you play with emotion it will play with you.''
'He referred to the chorus girl, ''on $15 or less a week - a life in which bullying by a stage manager plays quite a prominent part.''
'''Don't tell me this isn't true,'' he added; ''I have seen too much of it.''
'It's a fact that a chorus girl gets around $15 a week in a London chorus. In the provinces she may get $7.50, and out of it she is supposed to keep herself in food and clothing and to pay for lodgings.
'Some girls do it. A few support themselves entirely on it. Others, a good many, manage to buy food and pay for lodgings and car-fare and depend on their families for clothes. A few have money of their own. Then there are the others.
'There is no secret about the salaries. Anyone who goes around town knows girls who receive them, and support themselves or fail to support themselves on the money.
'Those who keep themselves straight are taken out to dinner occasionally; not very often, on the road. They live in London mostly; when they are on tour they live together, three or four of them in dingy rooms, and cook most of their own food.'
(The Oelwein Daily Register, Oelwein, Ohio, Monday, 23 July 1923, p. 2c)

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© John Culme, 2009