George Formby, OBE (26 May 1904 – 6 March 1961), was a British actor, singer-songwriter and comedian. He sang light, comical songs, usually playing the ukulele or banjolele. He was a major star of stage and screen in the 1930s and '40s, when Formby became the UK's highest-paid entertainer. His songs such as "When I'm Cleaning Windows" were particularly popular during the Second World War (1939–45).
When he and his wife travelled throughout the war, creating improvised lyrics to songs to fit the situation, they delighted their audiences. It was estimated that they played before three million Allied servicemen and women.
His 1937 song, "With My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock", was banned by the BBC because of its suggestive lyrics. Formby's cheerful, innocent demeanour and nasal, high-pitched Lancashire accent neutralised the shock value of the lyrics; a more aggressive comedian such as Max Miller would have delivered the same lyrics with a bawdy leer.
His best-known catchphrase was probably "It's turned out nice again!". In 1960, his last recorded song "Happy Go Lucky Me" / "Banjo Boy", peaked at number 40 in the UK Singles Chart. Since his death in 1961, a remix version of "When I'm Cleaning Windows" by 2 In A Tent charted in the early 1990s.
George Formby, born in Wigan, Lancashire, UK, began his career as a music hall artist in 1921. He enjoyed success on stage, in song, and later on film until his death in 1961 at the age of 57. He was the top British box office draw in the 30's and early 40's.
He is perhaps best known for upbeat songs, featuring his trademark Lancashire accent, syncopated banjolele playing and laden with sly innuendo, such as Chinese Laundry Blues and When I'm Cleaning Windows.
His films were typically slapstick comedy, playing on his music hall persona, and reached their greatest heights of popularity during the war years. Films such as Let George Do It (titled "To Heil With Hitler" in America), which features Formby punching Adolf Hitler in the face during a speech, were usually highly patriotic and designed to lift the spirits of the worn out population.
He passed away following a heart attack in March, 1961. His domineering long-term manager and wife Beryl, who had controlled his career since they married in 1924, had died 4 months earlier. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.