Born over a fish and chip shop owned by her grandmother in Molesworth Street, Rochdale, Lancashire, she made her first stage appearance as a child in 1905. Her two sisters, Edith and Betty, and brother, Tommy, all went on to appear on stage, but Gracie was the most successful. Her professional debut in variety took place at the Rochdale Hippodrome theatre in 1910 and she soon gave up her job in the local cotton mill.
She met comedian Archie Pitt and they began working together. Pitt would come to serve as her manager and the two married in 1923. Their first revue in 1915 was called Yes I think so and the two continued to tour Britain together until 1922 in the revue Mr Tower of London.
Her most famous song, which became her theme, “Sally,” was worked into the title of her first cinema film, Sally in Our Alley (1931), which was a major box office hit. She went on to make several films initially in Britain and later in the United States (for which she was paid a record fee of US$200,000 for four films), despite never performing without a live audience.
Ironically, the final few lines of the song ‘Sally’ were written by her husband’s mistress, and Gracie sang this song at nearly every performance she made from 1931 onwards.
Edited by lotiat on 31 Jan 2008, 22:53
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