Johnny Burslem’s first professional engagement was as a dancer at the Windmill Theatre, London, at the aged of 17, before his career was interrupted by army service in the Second World War.
Despite seeing action in the D-Day landings and elsewhere, he used his spare time to put on productions for his comrades, and returned to showbusiness after demob.
Following the war, Johnny danced for two years at the London Coliseum in Annie Get Your Gun, which is where he met his soon-to-be-wife, June. Later, he and two other performers from the show formed a mime/comedy/dance act, Jo, Jac and Joni. They performed internationally and appeared at the Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium.
Continued success took the act to South America with the Lido show from Paris. One of Burslem’s troupe fell in love with the leading lady from the Lido and left the act, so June stepped into the role. The group performed in London and New York, on the Ed Sullivan Show, in Las Vegas and Reno, and then at the Canadian National Exhibition with Bob Hope.
They created a dancing school, and Johnny regularly choreographed and appeared in pantomime and on television shows, including Only Fools and Horses, Hi-de-hi! and Lovejoy.
David Lee remarked: “Johnny was supremely professional, a gentleman and always enormous fun.”
Johnny will be especially missed by June, as well as the hundreds of people he taught and worked with over the years.
Whether he was working alongside Judy Garland, Nat King Cole, Danny Kaye, or teaching a pupil a time step in a tap class, Johnny gave it his all.
Born on May 11, 1923, Johnny Burslem died on March 18, aged 87.