A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

The Sunday Video: Jimmy Clitheroe and Frank Randle

This week’s Sunday Video is a clip from the 1940′s film ‘School for Randle’ courtesy of Madcap Northern UK comedy. The film, from which this somewhat unremarkable piece of archive footage originates, stars British comedians Frank Randle and Jimmy Clitheroe; the former, a brilliantly subversive figure, yet incessant drunk, the latter, a diminutive (4 feet 3 inches) Vaudeville star who throughout his life specialized in playing a cheeky schoolboy. I was moved to re-publish this video that features a genuinely young Clitheroe after having had the pleasure of hearing a first hand account of one of the early instances that this pair worked together and after failing to find the footage I was looking for. Had I found the clip which described the story recounted to me it would have gone something like this: Frank Randle plays the part of a ventriloquist, using Clitheroe as his dummy. At the end of the set, Clitheroe jumps off of Randle’s knee and runs off stage much to the horror of the audience who at the time – having a limited grasp of entertainment’s potential – fled for the door, passed out and/or vomited from the shock. From these arguably ‘successful’ exploits the two continued to work together for many years. Clitheroe, who never married or left home died of an overdose of sleeping pills on the day of his mother’s funeral in 1973. No more happily, Randle, having suffering the decline of music halls and the consequences of a life of alcohol abuse was made bankrupt by the tax authorities in 1955 and died in Blackpool of gastroenteritis in 1957. A court case attesting to Randle’s flagrant disregard for this liver can be summarized by the comments of a traffic court judge, who, after listening to Randle protest his innocence on the grounds that the other vehicle ‘swerved unexpectedly in front of him’ pointed out that the ‘other vehicle’ was in fact a tram!

Jimmy Clitheroe and Frank Randle courtesy of hotun.

This post was contributed by Thomas Hollingworth.

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The Sunday Video: Jimmy Clitheroe and Frank Randle