During the 1940s and 1950s, Joyce Golding was one of Britain’s most successful variety acts. She sang and told jokes, but specialised in impersonating a wide range of stars, even including the great Austrian tenor Richard Tauber. Her bill matter was ‘Creating an Impression’.
As a teenager she amused her friends so much, they suggested that she applied to work for ENSA, the group set up to entertain troops in the Second World War. She was accepted and was sent across Western Europe.
One favourite routine was her recitation of Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade in the guise of
a drunk, a spiv and many other characters. She also delivered a lecture about the evils of alcohol, while falling prey to a bottle of gin.
After the war, she was signed up by agent Joe Collins, and was cast alongside Jimmy Edwards, Jon Pertwee and Freddie Frinton in Trouble in the Air (1948), a comedy film about a plot to cheat a befuddled country squire.
The following year, Golding married Freddie Squires, the brother of singer Dorothy Squires, but the marriage ended six years later with Freddie’s death from kidney disease while still in his 30s. The day after his death, determined that the show must go on, she appeared on TV with Vera Lynn.
Golding was one of the few women who played the pantomime dame. When she appeared in Robin Hood at the Finsbury Park Empire in 1956-57, The Times reported that she brought both gusto and pathos to the role of Dame Trot.
At about this time, she formed a double act with actor and singer Tony Stuart, but with the world of old-time variety crumbling around her, she decided to retire in 1962. However, she and Stuart then opened a bar in Brighton and staged regular variety shows during their six years there.
Born in Battersea, London, on July 28, 1922, Joyce Golding died in Hove on December 24. She was 90.