Jack Buchanan (1891 - 1957)

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Birthplace: Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, UK
Death: Died in London, England, United Kingdom
Managed by: Michael Rhodes
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About Jack Buchanan

<The Times, October 21, 1957>

< MR. JACK BUCHANAN>

<LAST OF THE 'KNUTS'>

Jack Buchanan, who died in a London hospital yesterday, belonged to the gay tradition of dude comedians. He went on the stage before the First World War and continued as actor, manager and film producer almost up to the end. But he will be remembered most affectionately for the seemingly lazy but almost accomplished grace with which he sang, danced, flirted and joked his way through musical shows between the wars. The tall figure, the elegant gestures, the friendly drawling voice, the general air of having a good time, cheered up the most languid house from stalls to gallery.

He projected across the footlights a pleasant world (the latest kind of publicity spoils it with the label "glamorous") in which all the girls are pretty, well-dressed, and out for fun, cocktails are always to be had by ringing for Jeeves and overdrafts raise a hearty laugh. One of his shows was called "Top Hat and Tails" and that would have done for almost all the others. His singing may have been nothing in particular. As a dancer he never reached the acrobatic perfection of an Astaire. He did not let himself go into fooling in the manner of a Hulbert. But his style of comedy was all his own; he took everything, from tunes to wisecracks, in an easy stride. He knew how to make the most of looks, charm, and manner. His secret was that he could take an audience into his confidence and persuade them, by exquisitely good manners in acting, that they too would have felt at home in the elegant Edwardian society, as depicted on the light-comedy stage in which he had his roots. Jack Buchanan was the last of the "Knuts."

Born at Helensburgh, near Glasgow, he made his first appearance on the regular stage at the Apollo in 1912. Between 1914 and 1918 he began to show his individuality in pieces that old soldiers have not forgotten - "Tonight's the Night", "Bubbly" and "Tails Up". After "A to Z" in 1921 he went into management with "Battling Butler" and then in 1924 he played at Times Square Theatre, New York, in Andre Charlot's Revue. Back in England he toured with "Boodle" and then, alternating between this country and America, scored a series of successes. The Charlot connexion continued. As producer or actor and sometimes both he was always to be heard of. There was "Sunny", "That's A Good Girl", "Wake Up and Dream", "Stand Up and Sing" (of which he was part author with Douglas Furber), "This'll Make You Whistle", "The Last of Mrs. Cheyney", "Canaries Sometimes Sing", "Don't Listen Ladies", "Castle in the Air", and "As Long as They're Happy" - titles that prove at once his consistency and his versatility. They span the period between the late twenties and the early fifties and trace his development into a skilful actor in light comedy. In 1940 he made his first pantomime appearance and gave a new look, which went down very well, to Buttons.

Though never robust he threw himself into filming as actor - or director -wending his jaunty way through "Monte Carlo", "Good Night, Vienna" (how hauntingly he sang George Posford's songs), "Yes, Mr. Brown", "Come Out of the Pantry", "The Middle Watch", "When Knights Were Bold", "The Band Wagon" (with Fred Astaire), and the bilingual "Major Thompson". He controlled the Garrick Theatre, directed the King's Theatre, Hammersmith, appeared on television both in Great Britain and in the United States, and in many broadcasts both before the Second World War and after.

He married in 1949 Susan Bassett, of New York.

END

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Jack Buchanan's Timeline

1891
April 2, 1891
Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, UK
1915
1915
Age 23
1920
1920
Age 28
1947
1947
Age 55
1957
October 20, 1957
Age 66
London, England, United Kingdom