As the surprise of the evening, held in honour of the Queen Mother, Gracie appeared in the finale’s line up to perform (and steal the show) with ‘Sally‘.
In his introduction David Jacobs said: ‘We have a lady here who has come home to pay her own special respects. A lady who has been upon this stage so many times , it almost seems to bear her footprints. Your majesty, ladies and gentlemen. Miss Gracie Fields.’
I met Gracie on my 20th Birthday in Capri whilst I was on holiday in Sorrento. I went across to see her to hopefully have my copy of her autobiography signed, which she kindly did. She was absolutely wonderful, and we spent about 20mins talking. It was around the time that her new LP ‘Sing-a-long with Gracie Fields Superstar’ was released, and she told me she was waiting for EMI to send her some copies, so after getting home I bought two copies, and sent Gracie one of them. She sent a lovely letter of thanks back, and from time to time I would send a letter with any cuttings from the papers I thought she might like to see. After the Royal Variety performance I purchased these two photographs sent them to Gracie asking her to signed them for me, which she gladly did.
Whilst it was publicised that Gracie’s appearance at the show was a complete surprise, photographs found recently show her at the dress rehearsal of the performance – identified by Max Bygraves in a black suit (instead of the white one of the performance) and also the absence in the line-up of Danny La Rue and Frankie Howerd. It is reported that between the rehearsal and the show, Gracie and Danny La Rue sat together in Dan’s dressing room and shared fish and chips.
This show was ‘Our Gracie’s’ last British public performance.
You’ll have to forgive us for the next bit. Three grown men getting excited over a dress !
I think we worried the museum staff, even though we tried to act with decorum. Well done for coping with us chaps.