About Joy Nicholls
<The Times, June 29, 1992>
<Joy Nichols, comedienne and actress, died in New York on June 23 aged 66. She was born on February 17, 1926.
JOY Nichols was one of the nation's favourite show business personalities of the early postwar years. She was an excellent comedienne with a fine singing voice who achieved almost instant fame co-starring with Jimmy Edwards and Dick Bentley in the long-running radio series 'Take It From Here', and her bouncy, sparkling, wholesome sense of fun was irresistible.
Indeed, the very wholesomeness of her personality, coupled with good looks, enabled the writers Frank Muir and Denis Norden to slip into the script the occasional joke that in those stiff-backed BBC days was considered risque.
Her comic tinming was equal to that of her fellow comedians and the sense of cameraderie the trio achieved, even when the script had them arguing, was warming to the millions who tuned in each week.
Her radio fame, which in the late Forties and Fifties was the equivalent of television stardom today, led to her being offered the lead in the London West End production of 'The Pyjama Game' in 1955. The show ran for eighteen months and her exuberant singing of 'Hey There', and 'I'm Not At All In Love' were regular show-stoppers.
The Australian-born actress, who first became a radio star there aged seven, was married in 1949, at the height of her radio fame in Britain, to the American singer Wally Peterson. They had three children but were divorced after 28 years.
Soon after he success in 'The Pyjama Game' she decided to consolidate her career success in America, but it did not work, at least not immediately. American Equity, the actors' union, made her wait for a year before letting her work there, but even then the parts did not come quickly. After three years of living frugally and playing small roles, she landed one of the leads in the Broadway production of the musical, 'Fiorello'. She was 33 and looked destined for stardom, but it never quite happened.
After ten years in America, she returned to London. In 1969 she was to open at the Palace Theatre in London in the key role of Madame Defarge in the musical 'Two Cities', but she walked out during rehearsals amid rumours that she had fallen out with the star, Edward Woodward. It was to be six years before she reappeared, picked for what was a minor role in yet another musical, 'Great Expectations', with Sir John Mills and Moira Lister.
After being spotted in the Oxford Street Mothercare selling baby clothes for twenty pounds a week, she made no apologies, saying that she needed the money. At one stage she returned to Australia, launching a stage show in Sydney and for a while having her own radio show, but both soon ended, never to be revived.
On her return to Britain she took an half-page advertisement in 'The Stage' announcing that she was open to offers of theatrical work, but there were none. One of her last show business assignments was in 1979, when she appeared in two episodes of the television series 'My Son, My Son'.
She is survived by twins, Richard and Victoria, and an older daughter, Roberta.