|Born||Florence Mary Flannagan
16 August 1875
Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Died||18 April 1940
|Spouse(s)||1893 Walter Emanuel Bew
1905 Laurence Barnett (died 1934)
Florrie Forde (16 August 1875 – 18 April 1940), born Flora May Augusta Flannagan, was an Australian popular singer and vaudevillian entertainer. She was one of the most popular stars of the early 20th century music hall.
Early life and career
Forde was born in Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia in 1875. She was the sixth of the eight children of Lott Flannagan and Phoebe, who also had two children from a prior marriage. At the age of sixteen, she ran away from home to appear on the Sydney music hall stage, adopting the surname of her stepfather, Thomas Ford, adding an 'e'. At the age of 21, in 1897, she left for London, and on August Bank Holiday 1897, she made her first appearances in London at three music halls – the South London Palace, the Pavilion and the Oxford – in the course of one evening. She became an immediate star, making the first of her many sound recordings in 1903 and making 700 individual recordings by 1936.
Forde had a powerful stage presence, and specialised in songs that had powerful and memorable choruses in which the audience was encouraged to join. She was soon drawing top billing, singing songs such as "Down at the Old Bull and Bush" and "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?". She appeared in the very first Royal Variety Performance in 1912. During World War I, her most famous songs were some of the best known of the period, including "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag", "It's A Long Way To Tipperary" and "Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty".
On 2 January 1893 in Sydney, she married Walter Emanuel Bew, a 31-year-old police constable.  On 22 November 1905 at the register office, Paddington, London, as Flora Augusta Flanagan, spinster, she married Laurence Barnett (d.1934), an art dealer.
Florrie Forde formed her own travelling revue in the 1920s. It provided a platform for new rising stars, the most famous being the singing duo of Flanagan and Allen.
Death and legacy
She collapsed and died from a cerebral haemorrhage, after singing for troop in Aberdeen, Scotland on 18 April, 1940, she was 64. The Anglo-Irish poet Louis MacNeice left a tribute to her in a poem, 'Death of An Actress', recalling how:
With an elephantine shimmy and a sugared wink
She threw a trellis of Dorothy Perkins roses
Around an audience come from slum and suburb
And weary of the tea-leaves in the sink.
National Film and Sound Archive
- "Down At The Old Bull And Bush"
- "She's a Lassie from Lancashire"
- "Oh! Oh! Antonio!"
- "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?"
- "Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty"
- "Hold Your Hand Out, Naughty Boy"
- "A Bird in a Gilded Cage"
- "Daisy Bell"
- "I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside"
- "Now I Have to Call him Father"
- "Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag"
- "It's A Long Way To Tipperary"
- Jeff Brownrigg, 'Forde, Florrie (1875 - 1940)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, Melbourne University Press, 2005, pp 129-130
- Register of Births, Marriages & Deaths, Paddington, Dec Qtr 1905, Vol 1a, page 194
- Music Hall burials (Arthur Lloyd) accessed 29 Oct 2007
- National Film and Sound Archive: Sounds of Australia.