Entertainment – Jimmy Logan OBE

Jimmy Logan OBE – An Entertainment Legend

World famous Helensburgh resident, Jimmy Logan OBE was born James Short in Dennistoun, Glasgow, on the 4th April 1928. Raised almost in the proverbial backstage trunk, the boy Jimmy was one of five children. Logan was part of a family of entertainers beginning with his parents who were the music hall act Short and Dalziel, whilst his Aunt ,from whom he took his stage surname, was Ella Logan, star of Broadway musicals.

At seven he was cheekily selling programmes in a summer show which his father ran in Northern Ireland; at 12 he was in a wartime charity show with Sir Harry Lauder, the legendary Scot who became his idol. Educated at Gourock High School, Inverclyde, Logan left at age 14 for the theatre.

His family, in the 1930s and 1940s toured the small music halls of Scotland and Northern Ireland. By 1944 he was in pantomime when he played the cat in Dick Whittington. His connection with pantomime would continue throughout his life.
A comic, dancer and singer, Jimmy established himself in the forefront of Scottish showbusiness, particularly with The Five Past Eight Show at the Alhambra Theatre, Glasgow.

In 1959/60 Jimmy Logan hosted a Saturday evening series on network BBC TV but critical reaction was not as favourable as might have been hoped and no second series followed.

With his parents and siblings the Logan family played the Glasgow Metropole from the late 1940s. The original Metropole theatre was located in Glasgow’s Saltmarket, but a devastating fire resulted in its destruction. Logan purchased the Empress theatre (located not far from St George’s Cross) for £80,000 in 1964. He refurbished it at great personal cost, opening it as the ‘New Metropole’. One of the first events to be staged there was the first Scottish production of the rock musical Hair. Further development was blocked by the planning authorities and spiralling costs almost ruined him. The theatre subsequently closed in 1972, and was eventually demolished.

His first acting role was in the film Floodtide (1949) which also featured Gordon Jackson, a drama set on Clydeside. He also performed in Carry on Abroad (1972) and Carry On Girls (1973), two of the long running Carry on series of films. His London stage debut came in The Mating Game (1973).

His adaptation of Oor Wullie, the Sunday Post comic strip character, for the Dundee stage was a failure, but his show Lauder (1976), a one-man musical based on the life of his hero, famed Scottish entertainer Sir Harry Lauder, proved a success. Logan’s large collection of Lauder memorabilia now rests in the Scottish Theatre Archive at the University of Glasgow.

Jimmy Logan was awarded an honorary doctorate by Glasgow Caledonian University (1994), honoured with an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to Scottish theatre (1996) and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) (1998).
Jimmy Logan’s last two performances were at Pitlochry Festival Theatre and the Glasgow Pavilion Theatre respectively. At the Pitlochry show he shared the stage only with friend and musician, Gordon Cree which contrasted to his final performance at the Glasgow Pavilion, in which almost everyone in Scottish show business appeared to pay tribute and give support to the veteran performer.

Jimmy served as the first honorary president of Helensburgh Heritage Trust, until his death from throat cancer, on 13th April 2001 aged 73. His wife Angela, who had created the Jimmy Logan Memorial Cancer Trust, after his death, lost her own private 15 month battle with cancer on July 26th 2010 aged 65 years.

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