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Join Manx National Heritage For an Evening With Florrie Forde 6 February 2006

    On Friday 17 February Manx National Heritage hosts a special event at the Manx Museum providing a rare opportunity to enjoy the delights of legendary music hall star Florrie Forde both on the big screen and ‘live’, courtesy of a tribute in appropriate attire by Val Kissack. Florrie Forde

    The annual film night is to be given over to a screening of the 1930s film Say it With Flowers which features an impressive turn by Florrie. It will be followed by musical renditions of some of her well known songs and the chance for the audience to have a sing along.

    Florrie Forde was the star attraction on the Isle of Man, topping the bill for many summer seasons when she was booked by the Palace and Derby Castle Company to entertain holiday makers and locals alike in the Derby Castle ballroom. The Company’s ‘engagements book’ dating from 1905 records Florrie being booked regularly from 1905 until 1914. After World War One, she was back, appearing every year between 1919 and 1939.

    During her summer stays on the Island Florrie would live at her Niarbyl bungalow, a fact drawn out in the new Niarbyl Café and Visitor Centre. Despite her busy schedule Florrie found time to support Island based initiatives, for example agreeing to become the Honorary Vice President of the Pulrose Branch of the British Legion in November 1937.

    Born Florence Mary Flannagan in Australia in 1876, she took her step-father’s name Forde and it was as Florrie Forde that she came to England at the age of 21, having worked from the age of 16 in the music halls and theatres of Sydney. In 1940 she died shortly after a performance singing to troops in Aberdeen, Scotland. Her repertoire included songs made popular during World War One such as Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag and It’s A Long Way To Tipperary. Others were Down At The Old Bull and Bush and, for Island residents, the more special Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?

    Wendy Thirkettle, Archivist for Manx National Heritage, said:

    I am delighted that Val Kissack, accompanied by Wendy McDowell, has agreed to perform at the film show and hope that this contribution will be a fitting climax to the evening. Florrie Forde did leave many sound recordings of her music. Film recordings are rare however making this screening of Say it With Flowers all the more welcome. I find Florrie’s performance mesmerising and I can see how her stage presence would captivate thousands. I hope many will enjoy the evening’s programme’.

    The 1934 black and white film Say it With Flowers features several variety acts in a storyline about two poor flower sellers who are helped when a group of entertainers stage a benefit for them. Directed by John Baxter, it lasts 71 minutes. Doors open at the Manx Museum at 7.00 pm for a 7.30 pm start. Admission is free.

    6th February 2006

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