G.H. Elliott - Lily of Laguna / Little Dolly Daydream (1930)





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Published on Jun 16, 2012

G. H. Elliott (1882--1962) was a British music hall singer and dancer. He was born George Henry Elliott in Rochdale, Lancashire in 1882. Known as the "Chocolate Coloured Coon", he came on stage with a painted black face but dressed entirely in white. He had a white top hat, a white tail-coat which came down well below the knees, white gloves, white tie or cravat, white trousers, white shoes and a white cane.

He and his family emigrated to the United States when he was four. There he played juvenile parts on stage including the title role in Little Lord Fauntleroy. He was a member of the Primrose West Minstrels at the age of nine where he first blacked up.

The family returned to England in 1901 where he continued to perform on the music hall stage. After a number of years treading the boards he rose to top of the bill. He was influenced by Eugene Stratton who also used to black up and he sang some of Stratton's songs particularly Lily of Laguna which he sang in tribute to his hero. Among the songs particularly associated with him are Idaho, I Used To Sigh For The Silvery Moon and Sue, Sue, Sue.

He appeared in one film only Music Hall (1934) although it is a repeated misconception that a blackface singer who performed his (formerly Eugene Stratton's) song "Lily of Laguna" in Those Were the Days (1934 film) was him. He made several appearances in television variety shows and was the subject of This is Your Life on British television in 1957.

He appeared in three Royal Variety Performances, in 1925, 1948 and 1958. He made over 100 records, his first on a wax cylinder and his last in 1960.

He was married twice, first to Emily Hayes who died in 1940 and then to Florence May Street, known as June. She had been an acrobat in acts as various as the Martinez Troupe/Duo and Sereno (Harry Sereno) and June.

G. H. Elliott retired to Rottingdean, Brighton where he lived in a cottage he named "Silvery Moon" after his song "I Used to Sigh for the Silvery Moon". He is buried in the churchyard of St Margaret's Church, Rottingdean and his gravestone shows a stage with curtains drawn back. It bears the words: "The last curtain call for G H Elliott The Chocolate Coloured Coon who passed peacefully away 19 November 1962. Dearly loved R.I.P."

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