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Special Feature on London's Windmill Theatre

Laura Henderson and members of the Windmill Theatre cast pose for a photograph to celebrate the 6th anniversary performance on the 4th of February,1938 - From left to right, Doris Barry, Meggie Eaton, Laura Henderson, Edna Wood, and Mollie Hallewell - Courtesy Maurice Poole.

Above - Laura Henderson and members of the Windmill Theatre cast pose for a photograph to celebrate the 6th anniversary performance on the 4th of February,1938 - From left to right, Doris Barry, Meggie Eaton, Laura Henderson, Edna Wood, and Mollie Hallewell - Courtesy Maurice Poole.

Click here to see an Article on the Film "Murder at the Windmill."Click here to see an Article about London's Windmill Theatre with extracts from the Diary of a Windmill Girl by Pat RaphaelThe feature is centered around two articles in the Glasgow based 1949/50 publication 'Film and Art Reel' about London's Windmill Theatre with extracts from the Diary of a Windmill Girl by Pat Raphael, and an Article on the Film "Murder at the Windmill."Click the covers for the Main Articles.

But there is also a lot more to be seen here, including programmes pictures and newspaper articles so read on.

 

Click for information on the history of the Windmill Theatre. The Windmill Theatre Opened on the 15th of June 1931 with 'Inquest!' a play by Michael Barringer.

But the Windmill is far more famous for Mrs Henderson's creation of 'Revudeville' and her innovative use of the static nude tableau.

Staying open during most of the war years the Theatre also earned itself the now well known phrase.....

'We Never Closed.'

 

Click to see all the Windmill Reudeville Souvenir Programmes

Click to see all the Windmill Reudeville Souvenir Programmes.

Click for 'The Windmill Sails,' an Article about Mr. Van Damm and the Revudevillegirls, with images from Revudeville 32.Below - Click the covers for Five 1950s programmes from
The Windmill Theatre's Revudeville era

Programme for the Windmill Revudeville Era - Click to see the Entire Programme. Programme for the Windmill Revudeville Era - Click to see the Entire Programme. Programme for the Windmill Revudeville Era - Click to see the Entire Programme.

Programme for the Windmill Revudeville Era - Click to see the Entire Programme. Programme for the Windmill Revudeville Era - Click to see the Entire Programme.

 

Above Left - Click for 'The Windmill Sails,' an Article about Vivian Van Damm and the Revudeville girls, with images from Revudeville No. 32.

 

Programme for 'Inquest!' the first production at the newly opened Windmill Theatre in June 1931. Click for details. Very early Revudeville programme for the 9th of May 1932, just 3 months after Mrs. Laura Henderson introduced this new form of entertainment at the Windmill Theatre. - Click for details.

Above Left - Programme for 'Inquest!' the first production at the newly opened Windmill Theatre in June 1931. Click for details.

Above Right - Very early Revudeville programme for the 9th of May 1932, just 3 months after Mrs. Laura Henderson introduced this new form of entertainment at the Windmill Theatre. - Click for details.

 

Click for images and articlesLeft - Articles and Images from the Revudeville Souvenir Programme - 14th Edition - Nos. 151-157 Courtesy Robert Ludwig.

A selection of Wartime Revudeville Programmes.

Above - A selection of Wartime Revudeville Programmes.

 

Jill Millard Shapiro recalls some backstage moments as one of Vivian Van Damm's famous Windmill Girls in this exclusive article.

Jill Millard Shapiro recalls some backstage moments as one of Vivian Van Damm's famous Windmill Girls in this exclusive article.

 

“WE NEVER CLOSED”

Jill Millard Shapiro meets Margaret McGrath, The Windmill Theatre’s Blonde Bombshell of the Blitz in this exclusive article.

Jill Millard Shapiro meets Margaret McGrath
The Windmill Theatre’s Blonde Bombshell of the Blitz in this exclusive article.

 

BACKSTAGE: 1940


BACKSTAGE: 1940

'New rule for Windmill showgirls is lights-out at eleven. They work, sleep, eat in the Theatre.'

 

An article on the Windmill Theatre from the Speedway Gazette in 1948 - Click to read this article.

An article on the Windmill Theatre from the Speedway Gazette in 1948

 

“MR AND MRS REVUDEVILLE”  A Pictorial look at The Windmill Theatre's  JOHN LAW AND MARGARET COOPER  By Jill Millard Shapiro

MR AND MRS REVUDEVILLE
A Pictorial look at The Windmill Theatre's
JOHN LAW AND MARGARET COOPER
By Jill Millard Shapiro

 

The Windmill Girls' 2011 Reunuion

The Windmill Girls' 2011 Reunuion

 

The Windmill Girls - Click for more images.

Above - Photograph of some of the Windmill Girls - Click for many more images.

Publicity Photograph of the Windmill Girls in various poses from the Windmill Theatre Tableaux.

Above - Publicity Photograph of the Windmill Girls in various poses from the Windmill Theatre Tableaux. Click for many more images.

In 1940 Kenneth Bandy, who was the House Manager at the Windmill Theatre at the time, set about photographing some of the scenes from the Revudeville shows at the Windmill Theatre on to 35mm colour slides. These slides now belong to Maurice Poole who has had them restored and digitised by David Rose and has kindly sent them in for inclusion on the site. There are 256 of these slides and all you need to do to see them all is to click the image.

Above - In 1940 Kenneth Bandy, who was the House Manager at the Windmill Theatre at the time, set about photographing some of the scenes from the Revudeville shows at the Windmill Theatre on to 35mm colour slides. These slides now belong to Maurice Poole who has had them restored and digitised by David Rose and has kindly sent them in for inclusion on the site. There are 256 of these slides and all you need to do to see them all is to click the image above.

Kenneth Bandy - Backstage Cameraman at the Windmill Theatre - An Article from Photography Magazine in August 1956.

Above - Kenneth Bandy - Backstage Cameraman at the Windmill Theatre - An Article from Photography Magazine in August 1956.

 

Revudeville and Vulgarity - An Article by Vivian Van Damm - From a Windmill Theatre Programme of 1932

Above - Revudeville and Vulgarity - An Article by Vivian Van Damm - From a Windmill Theatre Programme of 1932 - Courtesy Maurice Poole - Click to read the article.

 

 

Closure Of The Windmill Theatre - Article on the final days and closure of the Windmill from the Evening News of the 1st of October 1964 - Click for article.On the 31st of October 1964 the Windmill Theatre shut its doors on Revudeville for the last time. Click to see the last night programme.Left - On the 31st of October 1964 the Windmill Theatre shut its doors on Revudeville for the last time. Click to see the last Night programme.

Right - Closure Of The Windmill Theatre - Article on the final days and closure of the Windmill from the Evening News of the 1st of October 1964 - Click for article.

Some pictures of the Windmill Theatre after its Revudeville years can be seen on the site here...

Above - Some pictures of the Windmill Theatre after its Revudeville years can be seen on the site here...

 

For more information on the Windmill Theatre you may be interested in the following Books, Films, and Recordings:

Books

A SOUVENIR OF THE WINDMILL THEATRE
Compiled by ‘ex Windmill girl’ Jill Millard Shapiro
Published by Obscuriosity Press
ISBN:978-0992869601

Remembering Revudeville 1932 - 1964 by Jill Millard Shapiro -  Click to buy this book at Amazon.co.ukOn the 31st of October 1964 a very British institution took its final bow. That was the night of the Windmill's farewell performance and when the curtain fell for the last time on London's world famous little theatre, and the stage door locked shut behind its keeper, the Windmill's heart stopped beating. All that was left was the lingering smell of a good cigar, the ghost of a fan dancer, the last faint echoes of laughter and applause, and then darkness. After 32 years the Windmill had breathed its last breath. Or had it? No one could have predicted that half a century later, in the year 2014, the world would still remember with affection the Windmill Theatre with its famous comedians and its legendary Windmill Girls.

Fifty years on, in the public's heart, this particular British institution "Never Closed". This full colour hardback special edition book commemorates the Windmill on the fifty year anniversary of the theatre's closure. With over 600 illustrations (photographs and ephemera), stories and contributions from ex Windmillite Barry Cryer OBE, Windmill girls and boys who danced on through the blitz and many more, this book will remind those who were there of the phenomenon that was the Windmill, and give those who weren't the feeling of having visited the theatre that famously never closed.

Click to buy the book at Amazon.co.uk.

 

No Excuses by Sheila Van Damm in 1957No Excuses by Sheila Van DammSheila Van Damm authored a book published by Putnam & Co.Ltd., London in 1957 and called 'No Excuses" (Shown Left and Right).

There are some chapters in the book on the Windmill Theatre but most are about car rallies.

 

Tonight and Every NightWe Never Closed by Shelia Van DammVivian Van Damm wrote a book called 'Tonight and Every Night' (Shown Right) which was first published by Stanley Paul, London in 1952. The book tells the story of the Windmill Theatre in its heyday, with a Foreword by Emile Littler.


Shelia Van Damm wrote another book about the Windmill Theatre, and her time there, called "We Never Closed" (Shown Left) which was published by Robert Hale in 1967.

 

"Tap Dancing Made Easy" by Isolde'Blond and Brunette' was Published in 1940 by Chapman and Hall Ltd. Another book with photographs which were taken at the Windmill Theatre and feature Windmill Theatre artistes is "Tap Dancing Made Easy" (Shown Left) by Isolde. The book was published in 1936 by C.Arthur Pearson Ltd., with further editions in 1937 and 1947.

Another book with photographs called 'Blonde and Brunette' (Shown Right) was Published in 1940 by Chapman and Hall Ltd, all the girls in the book were Windmill Theatre artistes.

 

FILMS

Tonight and Every NightTonight and Every NightA film called 'Tonight and Every Night' (Shown Right) directed by Victor Saville in 1945, with Rita Hayworth, purported to be the first film 'to tell the “true” story of Laura Henderson, who died in 1944.

'Mystery at the Burlesque', otherwise known as 'Murder at the Windmill' - Click for details of this Film.Another film was 'Murder at the Windmill', released in the UK in 1949, with Diana Decker, John Pertwee and Jimmy Edwards. This low budget film was about the murder of an usher in the Theatre.

It was produced by Danny Angel who was married to one of Van Damm's daughters. In North America it was released as "Mystery at the Burlesque" in 1950 (Shown Above Left and Below).

 

A cinema lobby card for 'Mystery at the Burlesque (Murder at the Windmill) - Courtesy Maurice Poole

Above - A cinema lobby card for 'Mystery at the Burlesque (Murder at the Windmill) - Courtesy Maurice Poole

Click for more details of Murder at the Windmill and Mystery at the Burlesque.

 

Secrets of a Windmill Girl DVDThere was another film made at the Windmill Theatre in 1966 called 'Secrets of a Windmill Girl,' (Shown Right) with Pauline Collins, Martin Jarvis and Dana Gillespie. This was produced by Searchlight Films. A DVD was released in 2004 and is now available in region 1 [North American]. It can be purchased on the Internet from the U.S.A. The film has some fan dance scenes by former Windmill Theatre Company artistes.

The artist Zsuzsi Roboz did some back stage drawings of the Windmill girls before the theatre closed in 1964. These drawings are in the Tate collection and can be viewed online here.

The British Film Institute has a copy of the film "Dawn In Piccadilly" which was screened at cinemas in the 1960's. Although not availiable to view at the moment the BFI synopsis of the film says it is: 'a nostalgic documentary about the legendary Windmill Theatre in London's West End. Dawn Maxey one of the Windmill Girls, a dance troupe, talks about how she became one of the girls and what she enjoys about it. We see her in rehersal and performing a fan dance. George Martin, speaking from the nearby Pop's Club, introduces the film and gives a survey of the theatre's history. We learn that great entertainers and comedians like Bruce Forsyth and The Goons started their career at the Windmill, where the programmes were a combination of dance and comedy acts.'

In 1969 the BBC made a television documentary about the Windmill Theatre called 'If it moves it's rude'. This featured Jimmy Edwards, Arthur English, Bruce Forsyth, Pearl Hackney, Stanley Holloway, Alfred Marks, Des O'Connor, Harry Secombe, and Sheila Van Damm. The film was narrated by Kenneth More. Televised 26-12-1969, 50 mins. duration.

The dance routines for Paul Raymond's "A Night at the Revuebar" were filmed at the Windmill Theatre, and is still available on VHS in some online auction sites.

Mrs Henderson Presents [2005]  - Click to buy the DVD at Amazon.co.ukFinally, if you would like to experience the Windmill Theatre in it's Glory Days for yourself, the film Mrs Henderson Presents [2005] is a wonderful and heart warming recreation of the period. The DVD is a must buy for anyone who remembers the Windmill Theatre's Revudeville period, or wants to see it for themselves. Highly recommended.

Click here to buy the DVD at Amazon.co.uk

 

There are many clips from the Windmill Theatre's early days available to view online at BritishPathe.com.

 

Recordings

In the February 4th 1936 Revudeville Programme an advertisement (Shown Below) was carried for this Columbia Records recording of some of the numbers from Revudeville shows. It was called 'Revudeville Memories' - Image Courtesy Maurice Poole.

Revudeville Memories

This Special Feature on the Windmill Theatre was first created in February 2003 but has been updated and enhanced many times over the years. Updates are all logged on the What's New page.