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Thomas Edward Trinder
24 March 1909
Streatham, London, England
|Died||10 July 1989 (aged 80)|
Chertsey, Surrey, England
Thomas Edward Trinder CBE (24 March 1909 – 10 July 1989), known as Tommy Trinder, was an English stage, screen and radio comedian of the pre- and post-war years whose catchphrase was 'You lucky people!'
Tommy Trinder was born at 54 Wellfield Road, Streatham, South London (a plaque from the Streatham Society marks the spot), on 24 March 1909, the son of Thomas Henry Trinder, a London tram driver from Shilton, Oxfordshire, and his wife Jennie Georgina Harriet Mills.
He left school early for a job as an errand boy, but by the age of 12, was on stage. He toured South Africa with a revue company in 1921 and appeared as a boy vocalist at Collins' Music Hall the following year. Minor successes in music hall, revues and working men's clubs followed. By 1926, aged 17, Trinder was the star of Archie Pitt's travelling variety comedy shows.
National recognition began to come in 1937 with the revues Tune In and In Town Tonight. By the time of the Second World War he was one of Britain's foremost entertainers (a position he would maintain until the 1960s) and his shows brought welcome relief during the darkest days of the war.
He also took straight acting parts in The Foreman Went to France, The Bells Go Down (a tribute to the work done by firemen in London during the Blitz); and Bitter Springs about a family fighting to make a new life in the Australian Outback.
He is believed to have originated "Trinder's Impossibility" – a "bar bet" where the mark is presented with a ten shilling note, partly torn through in two places at right angles to the long side and challenged to hold the two corners of the torn edge and tear it into three pieces. It cannot be done.
"He would begin his act with, 'The name's Trinder. That's T-R-I-N-D-E-R, pronounced Chumley.' This witticism was a gentle dig at the snobs of society, who insisted on pronouncing ordinary names in a fancy way which was utterly un-phonetic."
He lived in an Art Deco-style apartment block – Du Cane Court, in Balham, south-west London – the largest such under one roof in Europe in the 1930s. He moved in with Violet Trinder (née Bailey; they had married in 1932) in 1939, and was still there in 1955. A neighbour described an impromptu encounter she had with him in which her silk scarf had covered her features. He said: "One should never hide a pretty face." His second marriage was to Gwyn (Toni) Lancelyn Green. He moved to a large private estate, Burwood Park in Hersham, Surrey, calling the house "Tiverly". He is buried in Burval Cemetery, which is close by to where he lived.
He was a lifelong devoted supporter of Fulham Football Club and was chairman of the club between 1959 and 1976.
He was a proud and active member of the exclusive entertainment fraternity, the Grand Order of Water Rats, serving two non-consecutive terms as its "King Rat" in 1963 and 1965, respectively. He was also President of the Lord's Taverners cricketing charity in 1956.
In 1979 he appeared in an edition of The Old Boy Network, doing his stand-up routine and presenting a condensed history of his life and career.
Using a wheelchair after a stroke in 1986, he made his final television appearance in I Like The Girls Who Do recalling his contemporary Max Miller.
A biography by Patrick Newley, You Lucky People! – The Tommy Trinder Story, was published in 2008 (Third Age Press).
- 1938 – Save a Little Sunshine
- 1938 – Almost a Honeymoon
- 1939 – She Couldn't Say No
- 1940 – Sailors Three (US: Three Cockeyed Sailors)
- 1940 – Laugh It Off
- 1942 – The Foreman Went to France
- 1943 – The Bells Go Down
- 1944 – Fiddlers Three
- 1944 – Champagne Charlie
- 1950 – Bitter Springs
- 1955 – You Lucky People
- 1959 – Make Mine a Million
- 1963 – The Damned (US: These are the Damned)
- 1964 – The Beauty Jungle (US: Contest Girl)
- 1969 – Under the Table You Must Go (documentary)
- 1974 – Barry McKenzie Holds His Own
3. Lew Grade Biography (1906–1998) – Jump Up. Film Reference. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
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