Tommy Morgan show business legend
a Bridgeton boy who lived in
The late great
Tommy Morgan ./.
1898 - 1958
The late great Tommy Morgan, show business legend, was never to make it on
the world scene, but to his Glasgow audiences from the 1920s to the 1950s there was and never will be another
quite like him.
He was the very essence of Glesca humour.
Born in an old Bridgeton tenement when Queen Victoria was still on
the throne, he left school at 14 to begin work in a local chocolate
factory. At age just 16, a tall gangly youth, he presented himself to an
army recruiting officer, successfully persuading him he was actually 18. A
few weeks later the young lad from Bridgeton was in the trenches of
Flanders amidst all the hell of World War 1. Ironically it was as a
soldier that the young Tommy Morgan was to get his first taste of show business
in an army concert as a stooge to one of the comedians. He
was addicted to the thrill of being able to make people laugh!
Everything about Tommy was big, and loud, and gallus, and Glesca!
Glaswegians loved him and he went on to do a record 19 successive summers
seasons in his own show at the Glasgow Pavilion. an unmatched achievement
at the time anywhere on the British stage. Summer and autumn at the
Pavilion, winter and spring in the pantomime at the Empire and Alhambra.
Over a period of 30 years there was always somewhere in Glasgow you could
see Tommy Morgan live on stage. There were also his regular trips to
Belfast, Ulster folk appreciating his Glesca humour as though it were
Tommy was not blessed with ripe old age, he suffered considerable illness
in his last few years before dying in 1958.
His dying wish was complied with and in the presence of a few friends and
some fellow professionals his ashes were scattered from the roof of the
Pavilion Theatre.........his ghost is said to walk the boards of the Pavillion
to this day.
The bar in the Pavilion Theatre stalls is named after Tommy - The Tommy
COMMENTS ON TOMMY MORGAN by Stanley
Baxter another wonderful Scottish comedian,
his book '... bedside book of Glasgow humour'
"Glasgow has always been fortunate in having a plentiful supply of
native comedians, the men (and women) who reap a rich harvest of fun from
the idiosyncrasies of there fellow citizens, both male and female. But if I
were to chose the best ever exponent of 'down to earth' humour, I would
nominate the late great Tommy Morgan....................Mr Glasgow fitted him exactly.
He was born in Bridgeton and the family did not have much money. As a
schoolboy Tommy helped out by delivering morning rolls.
'Ah aye saw that ma maw got plenty of them', he
told me. The family lived on they rolls - till the baker found oot an'
When eventually he was in the big money he often looked back on the poverty
- stricken days of his childhood.
He told me how he borrowed an old overcoat from a pal to emigrate to the
States. He was to send back the money when he got a job in New York. But
Tommy changed his mind about emigrating. He was wearing the coat at Bridgeton
Cross one winter's day when he saw the owner approaching. 'Aw
so ye didnae go tae the States efter aw', said the overcoat owner, 'See's
back ma bliddy coat!' He wrenched it off Tommy's back and went off muttering
angrily 'Bloomin fly man'.
When only sixteen Tommy volunteered for the Army. His family went to Central
Station to see him off to the battlefront. But when the train stopped at
Eglinton Street station the boy soldier became homesick. The carriage door
was locked but he climbed out the window and made his way back to Bridgeton.
When his father and tearful mother got home they were surprised to see Tommy
sitting by the fire. 'Whit ye daen' here?' shouted his
dad angrily. 'Get back tae the sojers!'
Back went Tommy to spend his seventeenth birthday under fire in a Flanders
When I first met Tommy the thin little Bridgeton lad had grown into a tall
well-fed-looking man who was making something like £300 a week, big money
for a star in those days.
Morgans face and voice helped him to fame and fortune.
The face was round - 'Big bawface' was his own description of it, and the
blue eyes could express fierce resentment or great pleasure most eloquently.
The voice was unforgettable - loud, rasping and unmistakably Glasgow.
Tommy Morgan's career began when he won a prize in a go as you please
competition, one of those talent contests that were held in little halls
throughout Glasgow fifty years ago.
Then he became a feed to comedian Tommy York.
Amongst their one night engagements was one at the tiny Panoptican Theatre
(later a cinema) in Argyle Street one of the many engagements were they were
The Morgan Summer Show ran for fourteen successive years at the Pavilion
Theatre Glasgow, and whilst in the theatre his word was law and he was known
as 'The Guvnor'.
When in London Tommy usually ate at the Savoy Grill. It was there, en route
to Cannes, that he startled and mystified the head waiter by calling - 'Is
ma dinner no' up yit? Ah've an airyplane tae catch!'
Unlike many in show business, Tommy was generous. Many an artiste down on
his luck got a hand out from him....and he dreaded anyone discovering him to
be the benefactor.
Towards the end of his career he was desperately ill, but he struggled on a
People always flocked to see Tommy and enjoy his gutsy Glasgow humour.
But after a courageous battle against pain and weak-ness, he had to give up.
A few months later he died - almost penniless. The high life, the odd big
bet on a horse, medical bills, the loans he made to people....possibly these
ran away with his money.
I can still hear the gallus, rasping voice with it's rich authentic Glasgow
patter, and so can many of the folk to whom Tommy Morgan brought many an
evening of laughter."
from messageboard, March 2003, Peter
Tommy Morgan was the
supreme exponent of "Glasgow Humour" Here are a couple of his
"They can bomb us bomb us bomb us and we'll never turn a herr, for
there'll always be a Rothesay at the ferr"
I cant type the tune here but i'm sure you get the drift.
Another is during the Clydebank Blitz, when the sirens go off and the man
and his wife are going down to the air raid shelter, the wife shouts "Ah
hive tae go back tae the hoose, ah forgoat ma teeth."
"For goad's sake wumman, it's bombs they're drappin' NO
Sandwiches" ...........You don't hear that kind of humour any more
from messageboard, March 2003, Ronnie,
"...... Big Bawface .............. I remember
when he arrived hame frae Italy and Yorke says
"Did you touch Florence?" tae which Morgan replied "naw,
her mother wis there aw the time."
from Guestbook, Dec.2005, Morna
Bell, Maine USA
I am married to Alan Bell, nephew
of the late Tommy Morgan. His mother, the late Margaret Morgan Bell, were
brother and sister.
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