About Hetty King
<The Times, September 29, 1972>
<A Great Music Hall Artist>
Hetty King, one of the truly great artists of the music hall in its golden Edwardian era, has died at the age of 89. She belonged to the age of Harry Tate, Dan Leno, Albert Chevalier, George Robey, Harry Lauder, Eugene Stratton, and Marie Lloyd - unfortgettable names among which hers took an honourable place.
Her home was the Tivoli in the Strand, and her line was that of male impersonator. To the connoisseurs of the music hall there have been only two great male impersonators, one of whom was Vesta Tilley, the other Hetty King. Vesta Tilley, slim, dark and petite, was the more delicate and the more subdued in her approach. Hetty King, larger of build, broader in style and more brash in presentation, was almost her equal, although never her superior. Both presented the "toff", and Hetty King specialized in the guardsman, the swell and the drunk. They never appeared together on the same bill because of the similarity between their two acts, but one never imitated the other.
This was the era when 20 or more top stars would appear on the Tivoli bill, seldom earning more than £10 a week there but also appearing at the same time at several other halls as well. To maintain a position of pre-eminence when so many were so good was in itself a hallmark of her quality. The type of act she presented, the art of which she was a master - a half-and-half combination of highly trained professional expertise with a warm, flamboyant and vigorousy personality - and even the songs she sang satisfied an incurable nostalgia for the good old days.
She had the power, in her later years, of convincing those of us born into a less colourful age not only that the old days had been good but that we too really belonged to them. Her career continued almost to the day before yesterday, through summer seasons at holiday resorts, occasional appearances in London and sporadic descents to television studios; she needed no new songs, new tricks or gimmicks. She was, in these later years, simply herself, offering us the illusion that we too belonged to a more spacious, simpler and essentially happier age.