Elsie Randolph

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British dancer, comedienne, and singer, along with partner Jack Buchanan.
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b. Elsie Florence Killick, 9 December 1904, London, England, d. 15 October 1982, London, England. A dancer, comedienne, and singer, Randolph first met Jack Buchanan, with whom her name is always indelibly associated, at the Queen’s Hall Roof Follies Cabaret in London. She had recently taken over from the show’s leading lady after appearing in the chorus of West End productions such as The Girl For A Boy (1919), The Naughty Princess (1920), My Nieces (1921), and His Girl (1922). Buchanan offered her the small dual roles of flapper and maid in his next musical, Battling Butler (1922). During the run, she also impressed when deputising temporarily for his co-star, Sylvia Leslie, and Buchanan promoted her to the second lead in Toni (1924), in which she joined him in the pleasing song and dance number, ‘Don’t Love Me’. It was the beginning of a musical comedy partnership, much-loved by West End and film audiences, which, on and off, spanned some 20 years. Initially, in Boodle (1925) and Sunny (1926), Randolph continued to play second lead, but by the time they combined for the casual yet elegant ‘Fancy Our Meeting’ in That’s A Good Girl (1928), she was firmly in the lead opposite Buchanan. Even so, it was not a conventional musical comedy arrangement, as one critic noted: ‘Because of her piquancy, she was more of a soubrette than a romantic lead. And she was a brilliant foil for Jack. She could tackle the broadest comedy - even burlesque.’ So, while Buchanan was invariably expected to woo and win the ingénue, he and Randolph continued to swap wisecracks, and combine in the most exquisite dance routines in highly successful 30s shows such as Stand Up And Sing (1931), Mr. Whittington (1934), and This’ll Make You Whistle (1936). Not so successful was their union in the revue, Top Hat And Tails, staged in the Imperial Theatre which Buchanan built in Brighton. As she apparently posed no threat to Buchanan’s status as ‘Britain’s most eligible bachelor’, the couple’s fans were often disappointed on the occasions when they worked apart. In Randolph’s case, this included appearances in musicals such as Madame Pompadour (1924), Peggy-Ann (1927), Follow Through (1929), The Co-Optimists (1930), Wonder Bar (1930), and Charlot’s Char-a-Bang (1935), as well as various stage comedies. In the year after she played the role of Vittoria in the 1942 revival of the World War I hit, The Maid Of The Mountains, Randolph and Buchanan were reunited for It’s Time To Dance (1943) which clocked up a creditable total of 259 London performances. The team also appeared together in four films, Yes, Mr. Brown, That’s A Good Girl, This’ll Make You Whistle, and Smash And Grab (a comedy), and performed, along with several more ‘old-timers’, in a nostalgic segment of the twenty-fifth Royal Variety Performance in 1954. Three years later Buchanan died, but Randolph continued to appear in provincial theatres for some years, and made a late comeback to films, two of which, Reach For The Sky (Czech) and Charleston (Italy), were non-British. Several of the delightful duets she sang with Buchanan, which included ‘Oceans Of Time’ and ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ (both from Mr. Whittington), ‘The One I’m Looking For’ (That’s A Good Girl), ‘There’s Always Tomorrow’ (Stand Up And Sing), and, of course, ‘Fancy Our Meeting’, have been released on record.