Binnie Hale

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Hale, c. 1920s

Beatrice "Binnie" Mary Hale-Monro (22 May 1899 – 10 January 1984) was an English actress, singer and dancer. She was one of the most successful musical theatre stars in London in the 1920s and 1930s, able to sing leading roles in operetta as well as musicals, and she was popular as a principal boy in pantomime. Her best-remembered roles were in the musicals No, No, Nanette (1925) and Mr. Cinders (1929), in which she sang "Spread a Little Happiness".

In the 1930s she also pursued a film career and later had a radio show together with her brother Sonnie Hale. She continued to act and sing on stage through the 1950s.

Life and career[edit]

Hale was born in Liverpool. Her father, Robert Hale, and younger brother, Sonnie Hale, were actors.[1][2]

Hale was one of the most successful stars in London in the 1920s and 1930s, known for her vivaciousness, and able to sing leading roles in operetta as well as musicals and revue.[3] She debuted in 1916 in three productions: the musical comedy Follow the Crowd, followed by the revue We’re All In It, both at the old Empire Theatre, and in the small role of Annette in the musical Houp La! at the newly opened St. Martin's Theatre. After this, she played in several revues and musical comedies, including 150 Pound Revue (1917), Charlotte in The Kiss Call (1919), Just Fancy and Jumble Sale (1920), Betty in My Nieces (1921), Helen in the London production of Katinka (1923), Puppets and The Odd Spot (both 1924).[2][3] In 1924, she married the English actor Jack Raine,[4][5] with whom she had appeared in The Dippers, by Ben Travers in 1922 and in The Odd Spot.[6] They had a daughter, Patricia, born in 1930.[7] The marriage ended in divorce about 1934.[citation needed]

She finally starred in the title role of a hit musical, No, No, Nanette, in 1925 at the Palace Theatre. She also played the title role in the London production of Sunny (1926). She began her film career in 1927 in the short film On with the Dance, with Leslie Henson and her brother. She was Jill in the long-running British musical Mr. Cinders (1929).[8] Her recording of the song "Spread a Little Happiness" from that musical is possibly her best remembered recording, and the rock musician Sting took the song to number 16 in the UK singles chart 54 years later in the BBC teleplay Brimstone and Treacle.[9] Mr. Cinders was the first of three shows in which she appeared with Bobby Howes. Next, she starred in the title role of Nippy (1930); in Bow Bells, together with her father (1932); and The Dubarry as Jeanne (1932 UK tour).[2]

From 1933 to 1937, Hale made five films. On stage during these years, she played Peggy in Give Me a Ring (1933), Sally in Yes, Madam? (1934, with Howes, who later starred in the film version), Anne in Rise and Shine (1936), and Cochran's Coronation revue Home and Beauty (1937). In 1937, she starred as Roszi in Magyar Melody.[3] In the 1940s, and through most of the 1950s, she played as the principal boy in pantomimes and appeared in and variety shows, musicals such as Up and Doing (1940) and Flying Colours (1941), and reviews such as One, Two, Three! (1947, with her brother Sonnie) and Four, Five, Six! (1948, with Howes). She was in Out of this World (1950, Frankie Howerd's debut), and The Punch Revue (1955). She and her brother also had a radio series, All Hale. In her last West End role, she played the Duchess and Queen of Hearts in Alice In Wonderland at the Winter Garden Theatre (1959).[2][3][8]

She died at the age of 84 in Hastings, East Sussex.[10]


  • On with the Dance (1927)
  • This Is the Life (1933) – Sarah Tuttle
  • Hyde Park Corner (1935) – Sophie
  • The Phantom Light (1935) – Alice Bright
  • Take a Chance (1937) – Wilhelmina ("Bill") Ryde
  • Love from a Stranger (1937) aka A Night of Terror (USA) – Kate Meadows
  • Magyar Melody (1939) (TV) – Roszi Belvary
  • One, Two, Three! (1948) (TV)

Selected stage roles[edit]


Hale made many other recordings between 1925 and 1941, the majority of which were for the Columbia label in London.[14]


  1. ^ "Binnie Hale". BFI. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Binnie Hale – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d Green, Stanley. "Hale, Binnie", Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre, Da Capo Press (2009), p. 169 ISBN 078674684X
  4. ^ "Miss Binnie Hale: Quiet Marriage of Popular Revue Actress", The Observer, 2 March 1924, p. 15
  5. ^ "Jack Raine – About This Person", The New York Times, accessed 6 February 2015
  6. ^ Wearing, J. P. The London Stage 1920–1929: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel, Rowman & Littlefield (2014), pp. 179 and 313 ISBN 0810893029
  7. ^ Noble, Peter (ed.) "Raine, Patricia", British Film and Television Yearbook, Vol. 4, British and American Film Press (1952)
  8. ^ a b Kenrick, John. "Who's Who in Musicals: Hale–Harris",, 2007, accessed 6 February 2015
  9. ^ " – Lyrics: Spread a Little Happiness". Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  10. ^ "Binnie Hale Dies", The Glasgow Herald, 11 January 1984, p. 3
  11. ^ Vaudeville Postcards (4)
  12. ^ Vaudeville Postcards (3)
  13. ^ The Punch Review, The Guide to Musical Theatre
  14. ^ Rust, Brian, with Rex Bunnett, London Musical Shows on Record 1897–1976, General Gramophone Plublications Ltd, Harrow, Middlesex, 1977, pp. 462–64

External links[edit]