More of Ethel Formby

The Woman’s Weekly of 16 October 1943 fills in some details omitted by the Argus of 2 October 1943. The first and most obvious point was that Ethel was better looking than older brother George.

Ethel Formby

Ethel was the youngest of the seven Formby (really Booth) children, and she was interviewed while playing the Melbourne Tivoli circuit. She had just spend a year in New Zealand with her husband, John Gibson, who flew fighters with the RAF. She met Johnny when she was 18 years old and married him after a five-day courtship. “He was so persistent”.

John Gibson

While in Australia, Ethel hoped to meet former members of squadron 457, in which her husband had been a flight commander. Johnnie had to bail out of his aircraft on three occasions during his war service, and once landed his plane on an unexploded German bomb. (It went off, destroying his fighter, about 20 minutes after he was out of it).

Ethel lost a ukulele during the Blitz, along with everything she had in the house. The lost uke was named Bertha (the one she had taken to boarding school), but happily her other ukes, Matilda and Ermyntrude were still ok.

She started on the stage as a dancer, but took up ukulele performances because it was much easier than dancing. She played the same sorts of songs as her older brother, only using her Lancashire accent for these performances.

Published in: on December 16, 2010 at 10:21 am  Comments (10)  
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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ermynturde? Doubtful . . .

  2. “Ermyntrude” was the name given … maybe the bomb got the wrong uke.

  3. Ermynturde misspelt?

  4. Actually both George and Ethel played the banjolele, a hybrid banjo/ukulele as seen in the photo.

  5. Hi all,
    My family & I (Ethels daughter Geraldine) are trying to find information as to who Ethel toured the stage with, just before she met John Gibson, any helpful info will be truly helpful.
    Christopher Smith

    • Hope someone can provide a lead or two.

    • Hi Chris
      Please see my comment below

  6. Ethel Formby appeared in Hughie Green and Friends at the Broadway Theatre in Dundee Scotland in 1935 billed as Ethel Formby and her ukele
    this was 15 years after her father Geo senior played the Kings Theatre in february 1920 less than a year before he died
    ive never found anything showing that geo junior played dundee theatres though

  7. Hi Chris

    We must be related as Ella is my grandmother and geraldine is my mums cousin


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