Issy Bonn

b. Benjamin Levine, 21 April 1893, London, England, d. 21 April 1977, London, England. After showing early promise as an entertainer Bonn was shipped off to Canada by his disapproving Jewish father. When he returned home, he joined the Three Rascals, a comedy/singing act, before going solo in the early 20s. After playing the music halls with a blend of Jewish jokes and schmaltzy songs such as ‘Let Bygones Be Bygones’, and his big Specialty ‘My Yiddishe Momma’, he started broadcasting in 1935. He became extremely popular on BBC radio programmes, such as Music Hall and Variety Bandbox with his Finkelfeffer routine, and toured Europe with ENSA during World War II. In the late 40s he began to write and star in his own shows including The Big Broadcasts and The Melody Lingers On; he also played pantomime as well as having a few straight film parts. During the 50s he transferred successfully to television and appeared in a version of Music Hall in 1952. His stalwart singing style and mundane comedy became out of place in the satirical 60s so he retired from performing and moved into theatre management. He died in London on his birthday in 1977.

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