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Eleanor Drew (25 April 1922- 31 March 2014) was an English actress and singer. A Londoner, Eleanor Drew was born Nellie Darlison. She learned her craft in amateur concert parties during the war, and took singing lessons. She auditioned for Emile Littler and in 1945 was cast in a touring edition of The Quaker Girl. In 1947 she made her West End debut in the chorus of the original cast of Oklahoma! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and was later promoted to an important supporting role, staying with the production for over two years. She toured with The Dancing Years, and in 1949 married the actor Basil Henson.

A repertory season at Swansea was followed by another at Bristol Old Vic where she played many roles and specialised in those that required a good soprano. She was in Two Gentlemen of Verona (for which the Old Vic's resident musical director Julian Slade wrote the incidental music) and was then cast in the company's summer show of 1954, scheduled to run for a handful of performances - Salad Days.

The huge success of Salad Days at Bristol took it to the Vaudeville Theatre where it ran for over five years. Drew bore the brunt of the show's score - her leading man, John Warner, had little to sing of his own - with two exquisite songs, 'I Sit In The Sun' and 'The Time Of My Life'. There was also a magically touching duet 'We Said We Wouldn't Look Back' and a hand in most of the other 'straight' numbers. As the original cast recording verifies, Drew was one of the show's main glories.

When she left Salad Days (her place taken by Virginia Vernon) she played Naomi Tighe in School, an adaptation of T. W. Robertson's play, at Birmingham repertory Theatre in 1957. When the production transferred to the Princes Theatre in March 1958, Jack Hylton billed her (below the title) as the show's star, but it seemed a nominal gesture. School's composer, Christopher Whelen, remembers that 'the London production was hideous', but Drew attracted good notices or singing 'The Letter Song'. There was another solo, 'Handsome Stranger' and a duet with Michael Blakemore 'I Hang On Your Lips'. Some of the numbers from School were seen on TV, but the score was not recorded. The show had feeble reviews and shut up shop after 22 performances.

Drew's two other London musicals didn't do too well. In 1959 she took the supporting role of Beline in the fascinating flop The Love Doctor 'suggested by the medical comedies of Moliere', written by the creators of such hits as Kismet and Song of Norway, Robert Wright and George Forrest. Despite its apparently brilliant cast (it included Ian Carmichael, Joan Heal, Douglas Byng, Peter Gilmore, Richard Wordsworth, Patricia Routledge and Anna Sharkey) The Love Doctor, seen at the Piccadilly Theatre in October 1959, closed after 16 showings.

For her final musical, it was back to Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds as the leading lady, Priscilla Vernon, in their Hooray For Daisy! at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith for Christmas 1960. The opportunities offered by the score could not have been exploited better by any other musical actress of the time. She made Priscilla a flesh and blood character, from her fine introductory number 'I Feel As If I'd Never Been Away' through the social delicacies of 'Madam Will You Dine?' (a duet with Robin Hunter) and the regret of 'I'm Sorry'.

Theatre credits[edit]

  • 1954 - Salad Days by Julian Slade & Dorothy Reynolds at the Bristol Old Vic and at the Vaudeville Theatre, London. Played Jane. Introduced "We Said We Wouldn't Look Back", "I Sit In The Sun", "Oh! Look At Me", "The Time Of My Life" and "The Saucer Song".
  • 1960 - Hooray for Daisy by Julian Slade & Dorothy Reynolds, at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. Played Priscilla. Introduced "I Feel Like I've Never Been Away", "See You On The Moon", "Wine Is A Thing", "He's Got Absolutely Nothing", "It Won't Be The Same", "Madam, Will You Dine?", "I'm Sorry" and "Let's Do A Duet".


Elsie Randolph[edit]

Elsie Randolph was an English actress, singer and dancer. Born 9 December 1904, London, England, died 15 October 1982, London, England, UK.

Chic brunette British singer and comedienne who partnered successfully with urbane Jack Buchanan on 20s stage and 30s screen in airy musical romances.

She and Buchanan transferred a number of their singing and dancing stage hits to film including "That's a Good Girl" and "This'll Make You Whistle."

Although Elsie Randolph often played zany, quirky and sometimes unattractive heroines, she could also be a traditional glamorous star. Her stage partnership with Jack Buchanan lasted over twenty years. She was the comic foil to Jack’s casual elegance, able to handle comic parts, as well as sing, dance and look attractive when required.

The public wanted to see them united in private life, but Elsie always maintained that Jack was more like a father to her and that she could go to him for advice about anything.

Theatre credits[edit]

Film credits[edit]