Charles Coborn

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Not to be confused with Charles Coburn.
Charles Coborn
1892 Charles Coborn.jpg
As The Man Who Broke the Bank in Monte Carlo
Born Colin Whitton McCallum
(1852-08-04)4 August 1852
Stepney, east London
Died 23 November 1945(1945-11-23) (aged 93)
Occupation music hall singer & comedian

Charles Coborn (4 August 1852 – 23 November 1945) was a British music hall singer and comedian born in Stepney, east London.

He was born Charles Whitton McCallum, and adopted his stage name from Coborn Road, near Mile End. In a long career, Coborn was known largely for two comic songs: Two Lovely Black Eyes (which he adapted in 1886 from an existing song, and premièred at the Paragon Theatre, in the Mile End Road[1]) and The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo by Fred Gilbert, in 1892. The song was bought for £10, but the rights were finally sold for £600.[1]

Coborn estimated that he had sung the latter song 250,000 times in the course of his career, and could sing it in 14 languages. Described as a 'literate man of high principles', he was never fully accepted by the music hall establishment, but continued to work until the end of his long life. Tracks that he recorded in his 80s can be found on Chairman's Choice - Music Hall Greats CD.

In other songs such as "Should husbands work?" he took up the music hall tradition of (normally conservative) social comment.

He appeared in the film Variety Jubilee (1943), at the age of 91, and continued to make occasional appearances, until his death in London in 1945.[2] He is buried with his wife in Brompton Cemetery, London.

His eldest son, Major Duncan McCallum, became MP for Argyll.

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b Charles Coborn biography (East London History) accessed 29 Oct 2007
  2. ^ Charles Coborn biography accessed 29 Oct 2007
  • British Music Hall - an illustrated history by Richard Anthony Baker, Sutton Publishing, UK, 2005 ISBN 0-7509-3685-1

External links[edit]