Our Music Hall Days
Leah Ottolangui (Stage Name – Lily Pacey)
Born – 1889, Whitechapel, London, United Kingdom
Died – 17 May 1944
Vocation – Stage Dancer
Father – Aaron Ottolangui (Born London 1861-1936)
Mother – Mary Sharp/Schaap (Born New York 1860- Died London 1934)
Married – Sammy Taubin or Tobin (stage names: Jack Pacey, Eddy Bayes)
Family legend suggests that Leah’s mother, Mary Sharp might have been or aspired to be an actress.
This may have been from where the young Leah, or Lily as she was called by family and friends, obtained her love of the stage, for at an early age, whilst growing up around the “Buildings” of Bethnal Green, London, she began to dance, and in the years before the First World War, she was part of a popular dance troupe which even toured India.
Back in Blighty, Lily played the popular variety theatres, the “music-halls”, in a small dance team known as “The Five Bombays”. This is a receipt from one of those theatres for the group’s weekly salary of £22.10.00 ($22.50) being about £4.25 each – quite a wage in early 1918.
It was during this period that Lily met and later married a self-taught steps dancer by the name of Sammy Taubin, born in Manchester, Lancashire on 17th June 1890. Looking at the 1915 marriage register for Leah Ottolangui on it appears in one entry that she married Samuel Tubin, whilst there is also a different record of the same marriage to a Solly Tobin. Mr. Tobin’s stage name was “Mr. Jack Pacey” – as Jack and Lily Pacey the couple toured the length and breadth of Britain until the birth of their children. Lily eventually retired from the stage to raise their two children whilst her husband continued to perform as “Eddy Bayes”, and even performed a cabaret act at my parents’ wedding in March 1936.
At the height of his career, Eddy Bayes sustained a knee injury which put an end to his dancing. He continued to perform as a comedian, his theme song was “A Chinese Melody” a comedy song combining phrases in Mandarin, German, French and Yiddish in which he accompanied himself on a Chinese gong.
All of the above, for me existed only in my father’s memories, until many years later my cousins in USA inherited a box of old photographs when their mother, my father’s younger sister passed away. Unfortunately, many of the old photographs bore no clue as to the identity of the subjects but we did find the stage photograph of Leah and the Eddy Bayes publicity postcard
My father last saw Eddy Bayes in person at the Bury Hippodrome (near Manchester) early in 1945. Eddy Bayes’ last public appearances were on the Radio Luxembourg’s English Service (a European commercial radio station very popular in England until the advent of the pirate radio stations of the 1960’s) where he was known as the “Gong Man” in quiz shows.
Some years later we were contacted by Leah’s grandchildren in Canada. They were able to corroborate my father’s reminiscences and even came up with this slightly more recent photographs of their grandparents
My father had also remembered that Lily & Jack Pacey had a son named Sammy, and a daughter named Anita, but at first I couldn’t find any record of either of them. Then one of my Australian Ottolangui heritage collaborators thought that the daughter’s name had been Florence. A search of birth registers found Florence A. Tubin, born October 1919 to Mother Langley, so that is definitely her. A further search shows that Florence A. Tubin married Canadian serviceman Donald Fairweather in the Westminster registry office in December 1941….so no further confirmation required.
This is their wedding photograph
Anita and her baby son sailed from England to Canada on SS Aquitania in August 1944 settling in Montreal to await her husband’s return from war service.
Lily & Sammy’s son, Sam Tobin born 1916 became an organist for the BBC and followed his parents into the entertainment scene, often playing at popular venues and privte functions.
Samuel Tubin/Jack Pacey/Eddy Bayes played the music halls and variety theatres and that lead him the life of an itinerant troubadour. In the 1939 Population Register I found him in digs at 104, St Andrews House in the centre of York, where almost all but of one the many other residents are described as professional entertainers, music hall, concert and variety artists.
I also found this poster from September 1941 for RADIO FUNFARE at the Palace Theatre, Halifax, Yorkshire, where Eddy Bayes is on the bill doing 2 shows a day, but unfortunately the image is not clear enough to read the subtitles.
Topping the bill were “The Two Leslies”, Leslie Sarony and Leslie Holmes a top wartime act who had a hit with this WW1 song
Leah Ottolangui Tubin died on 17th May 2019 leaving to Samuel Tubin, Variety Artist, the sum of 551 pounds, 10 shillings and tuppence, which in today’s money would be around 24,000 pounds.
Samuel Tubin a.k.a. Jack Pacey a.k.a. Eddy Bayes died aged 73 in Bromley, Kent in April 1963.
Photographs in this post have been enhanced and colourized using the My Heritage photo enhancer and colourizer