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“MR AND MRS REVUDEVILLE”

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

A 1950s Christmas Card featuring Margaret Cooper. Caption reads 'Happy Landings for Christmas and the New Year' - Courtesy Margaret Law.

Above - A 1950s Christmas Card featuring Margaret Cooper. Caption reads 'Happy Landings for Christmas and the New Year' - Courtesy Margaret Law.

Mrs. Margaret Law in a photograph taken in July 2010 - Courtesy Margaret Law.The family spirit that was at the very heart of London's Windmill Theatre is epitomised by John Law and Margaret Cooper, the husband and wife song and dance team. For more than ten of its 32 years the Windmill Theatre was their life.

Right - Mrs. Margaret Law in a photograph taken in July 2010 - Courtesy Margaret Law.

John first joined the cast as a juvenile in 1944. At seventeen he was already very tall and very handsome. Later he was also a choreographer for the company. Eventually Sheila Van Damm asked him to run the theatre for her but he chose to move on and start his own business.

Margaret Cooper joined in 1948, straight from the Ada Foster stage school. Young, vivacious, bursting with energy, talent and personality, she shone on the Windmill stage. She was ballet trained but her specialities were tap and the can-can. She was the perfect Windmill Girl in all but one of the required elements: she couldn't hold a pose. Her career as a Windmill muse was short lived. On the one and only occasion when Margaret attempted to strike a pose on a pedestal during dress rehearsal Vivian Van Damm's voice boomed from the stalls, “Get her off of there. She wobbles.”

Windmill Girl of the Year 1950 - Margaret Cooper with The Emile Littler Cup - Courtesy Margaret Law.Margaret Cooper was Windmill Girl of the year 1950. Vivian Van Damm had taken centre stage after the finale of the nineteenth anniversary show and presented a very surprised Margaret with the Emile Littler Cup.

Windmill Girl of the Year 1950 - Margaret Cooper with The Emile Littler Cup - Courtesy Margaret Law.

A night to remember. Margaret Cooper shares the Windmill stage with Music Hall legend George Robey - Courtesy Margaret LawBut that wasn't the only surprise on the Windmill stage that night. On the second of February 1951 the Daily Mail reported: 'One by one the stars of yesterday came back last night in a cavalcade of the old Alhambra at the Windmill Theatre's 19th anniversary show - but only in the memory of their songs. They were not there to sing them, so young men and women of the Revudeville company, dressed as they were told the stars used to look, sang them. (Bruce Forsyth impersonated George Bastow and sang the galloping major.)

Right - A night to remember. Margaret Cooper shares the Windmill stage with Music Hall legend George Robey - Courtesy Margaret Law. Caption reads: 'Those famous eyebrows are raised, but veteran George Robey has no hesitation in accepting a drink from the Emile Littler Cup offered him by Windmill girl of the year, Margaret Cooper, at the Windmill's nineteenth anniversary celebrations.'

But when the time came for someone to impersonate George Robey a man walked onto the stage looking so much like him that the audience gasped. When he broke into “If you were the only girl in the world,” with Joy Marlowe as Violet Loraine, he sang so much like him that there was no longer any doubt. It WAS George Robey, a chirpy 81-impersonating his old “Bing Boy” performance of the first world war as only Robey could. He was brought in as a surprise item to round-off the show. And when he raised those shocked eyebrows and held up a reproachful hand the applause broke into cheers.' The Daily Mail 1951.

Margaret remembers: “Mr. Robey told me a joke and we did a bit of impromptu foolery with the cup for the press, but I was so shocked at sharing the stage with such a Music Hall legend that I don't remember anything he said to me. It didn't sink in.”

The Windmill's high-kicking can-can girls, Margaret Cooper and Margot Holden in 1953. Margot Holden later became a household name in the BBC radio show 'One Minute Please', now known as 'Just a Minute' - Courtesy Margaret Law.

Above - The Windmill's high-kicking can-can girls, Margaret Cooper and Margot Holden in 1953. Margot Holden later became a household name in the BBC radio show 'One Minute Please', now known as 'Just a Minute' - Courtesy Margaret Law.

 A Windmill wedding. The Marriage of John Law to Margaret Cooper in June A Telegram from Vivian Van Damm - Courtesy Margaret LawJohn Law and Margaret Cooper were married in June 1952. Their wedding was paid for by Vivian Van Damm. On the bottom tier of the elaborate Windmill wedding cake was a heart with the words You're the Match for Me written in icing and referring to the title of the first duet John and Margaret did together at the Windmill.

Right - A Windmill wedding. The Marriage of John Law to Margaret Cooper in June 1952 - And Above - A Telegram from Vivian Van Damm - Courtesy Margaret Law.

A quiet corner of the Windmill's rehearsal room. Margaret with lyricist Ronald Bridges - Courtesy Margaret Law.The duet's composer was the theatre's resident lyricist and pianist, Ronald Bridges, who sent the couple a wedding telegram that read, I wrote You're the Match For Me and look what it did. Look out I can write lullabies too.

Mr and Mrs Revudeville. A typical Windmill tap duet with John Law and Ronald Bridges.

Left - A quiet corner of the Windmill's rehearsal room. Margaret with lyricist Ronald Bridges - Courtesy Margaret Law. And Right - Mr and Mrs Revudeville. A typical Windmill tap duet with John Law and Margaret Cooper - Courtesy Margaret Law.

John and Margaret had been married for fifty years when John died in 2002.

Today, aged eighty, the irrepressible Margaret still organises and hosts an annual Windmill reunion for those she affectionately calls members of her Windmill family.

Some memorable photographs of Margaret Cooper and John Law's Career

A Front of house photograph (lobby card) of Margaret Cooper - Courtesy Margaret Law.

Above - A Front of house photograph (lobby card) of Margaret Cooper - Courtesy Margaret Law.

A Front of house photograph (lobby card) of John Law with Pat Hamilton - Courtesy Margaret Law

Above - A Front of house photograph (lobby card) of John Law with Pat Hamilton - Courtesy Margaret Law

A rare candid snapshot of the boys' dressing room at the Windmill taken during Revudeville 220 in 1949 - Courtesy Margaret Law.

Above - A rare candid snapshot of the boys' dressing room at the Windmill taken during Revudeville 220 in 1949. The two men in their underpants are an acrobatic duo. Seated and slightly blurred is Arthur English. Also seated and obviously dressed for the act is a member of The Texans. Standing in evening dress is Ron Perriam ready for his part as Jack Buchanan in the show's finale called "These Passing Shows". In blackface is Chick Randall who was the singer in the same finale. Seated lower right is John Law - Courtesy Margaret Law.

John Law impersonating the Music Hall star George Bastow performing 'The Galloping Major.' John shared this role at the Windmill with Bruce Forsyth - Courtesy Margaret Law.

Above - John Law impersonating the Music Hall star George Bastow performing 'The Galloping Major.' John shared this role at the Windmill with Bruce Forsyth - Courtesy Margaret Law.

JOHN LAW 1927-2002 - From Revudeville 174, 1944. John Law is on the left age 17. Others in the picture are Ron Perriam, Jean Baron and Raymond Waters - Courtesy Margaret Law.

Above - JOHN LAW 1927-2002 - From Revudeville 174, 1944. John Law is on the left age 17. Others in the picture are Ron Perriam, Jean Baron and Raymond Waters - Courtesy Margaret Law.

The 262nd edition Programme Front Cover from 1953 with the then Margaret Cooper aka Mrs Margaret Law - Courtesy Margaret Law.

Above - The 262nd edition Programme Front Cover from 1953 with the then Margaret Cooper aka Mrs Margaret Law - Courtesy Margaret Law.

The article on this page was written exclusively for www.arthurlloyd.co.uk by Jill Millard Shapiro and is Copyright © Jill Millard Shapiro 2011. Images are Courtesy Jill Millard Shapiro and Margaret Law except where otherwise credited. No part of this article or its accompanying images may be reproduced anywhere without the prior consent of Jill

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