Dave Willis (comedian)

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Painting of comedian Dave Willis by Henry Raeburn Dobson, 1940 National Galleries of Scotland

Dave Willis (Nom de Guerre of David Williams) (1895– 1 January 1973) was a Scottish comedian and actor.[1][2] He was a major music hall star in the 1930s and the 1940s in Glasgow, who came to prominence in pantomime. The actor Jerry Desmonde acted as a stooge to him.[3] He made two films for Welwyn Studios co-starring with Patricia Kirkwood in the late 1930s. The 'Scottish Theatre Archive' describes how a "genial, slightly bemused style of comedy characterised his 'little' man style of comedy". One of his best known songs was "In my wee gas mask" about an ARP warden ("the nicest looking warden in the A.R.P").[2]


He was born in Glasgow, the son of a butcher.[4]

He had appeared in "Half-Past Eight" show at Theatre Royal.[5] In 1943 it ran for 32 weeks, the longest a show had run in Glasgow and a record that he still held at the time of his death.[4]

He retired from the stage in 1950.[4] A decade later he was back on stage.[6] He died at his home in Peebles on 1 January 1973.[4]

His son Denny Willis was also a music hall performer and incorporated a number of his father's routines into his act.[2]




  1. ^ "David Williams (1895–1973), Comedian (Nom de Guerre Dave Willis)". artuk.org. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "University of Glasgow". gla.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 24 September 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  3. ^ Donnelley, p. 208
  4. ^ a b c d "Dave Willis dies at 78". The Glasgow Herald. 2 January 1973. p. 9. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Dave Willis Capers". The Glasgow Herald. 12 August 1949. p. 7. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Dave Willis carries off the honours". The Glasgow Herald. 21 February 1961. p. 9. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Dave Willis". BFI. Archived from the original on 19 January 2009.


  • Donnelley, Paul. Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press, 2000.

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