Star of stage and television, singer and musician Alistair McHarg died aged 79 on April 17 in Adelaide, Australia.
He was born in Ayr, Scotland on August 10, 1925, the youngest in a family of eight sons. Their father Sam was the local Salvation Army bandmaster, and as a result of this connection all of the boys learned to play musical instruments. Alistair’s was the piano but it was his magnificent bass-baritone voice that won him an engagement at his native town’s Gaiety Theatre for a week in December 1944, on a variety bill with Duncan’s Collies, the Tom Katz Sax Six, Jean Kennedy, the Five Acromites and Baby Beams, pickpocket magician Vic Perry, Fred Retter, and Billy Merric.
He was later booked for the fabulous Victory Gaiety Whirl summer show of 1945 with legendary comedian Dave Willis.ÊHowever, Alistair was called up for military service on June 9 and his singing career continued while entertaining troops.
American film director Wesley Ruggles later cast him in London Town in 1948, Britain’s first big Technicolor movie, which starred the comedian Sid Field and also boasted Tessie O’Shea, Kay Kendall and Petula Clark.ÊMcHarg had six songs in the film, several in duet with Beryl Davis, but most were cut in the final version.
McHarg pursued a highly successful career on the variety stage and in pantomime with performers including Scottish comedy star Alec Finlay, and made gramophone records.ÊHis theatre work included solo appearances at many of Britain’s top venues, including seasons with the Crazy Gang at the Victoria Palace in London. On television he formed Kenspeckle with his act of songs at the piano. He toured Korea in the early fifties entertaining during the war in that country.
Popular with the public and fellow professionals alike, he survived the sweeping changes that were engulfing the world of light entertainment.ÊTrips to Australia eventually led to a home there and McHarg worked as a cruise director and tour organiser before retiring.ÊHis last years were spent in contentment at a retirement complex.