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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Obituary: Pearl Hackney

    Pearl Hackney, who has died aged 92, was the widow of the comedian Eric Barker, with whom she enjoyed a long and successful working partnership.



    Daily Telegraph

    08 Oct 2009

    Pearl Hackney - Telegraph








    The couple first found fame during the Second World War in the radio comedy Merry-Go-Round, to which each of the three armed services contributed. Queen Mary was a fan and invited Pearl Hackney and Eric Barker to perform a special show for her at Clarence House to mark her birthday.



    After the war Merry-Go-Round split into three separate shows, with Barker (who had been commissioned in the Royal Navy and served in minesweepers) starring with Pearl Hackney in Waterlogged Spa, a spin-off that reflected postwar naval humour.



    The pair toured burns and spinal injury units, and attended several receptions at Buckingham Palace for injured service personnel. Pearl Hackney also appeared in the VE-day show at the London Palladium.



    Pearl Hackney was born on October 28 1916 at Burton upon Trent. Her father was a commercial traveller and her mother a dressmaker. The Hackneys had been Staffordshire figure-makers and potters, but when their business failed in the 1920s the family moved to Liverpool to find work. While her father was out looking for a job, Pearl helped her mother, who worked as a dressmaker to make ends meet. They had to hide the sewing machine from the child's father as he believed women should not work.



    Although her early family life was impoverished, the family fortunes rallied when her father landed a job with Barker and Dobson, the confectioners.



    Showing an early talent and love for classical music, Pearl Hackney never attended full-time school but danced her way through childhood, taking lessons from Anna Pavlova. Although her parents were unable to afford the Royal Ballet School, she became one of the youngest in the country to pass her advanced classical ballet examinations and went on to secure her first professional job in pantomime in Hull.



    She was also an accomplished tap-dancer, and for a time in Liverpool taught ballroom dancing, which she disliked. After an audition at the Windmill Theatre in London when she was 15, she was hired on the spot by Vivian Van Damm for a job in the chorus. There she met Eric Barker who, at just 20, was one of the Windmill's resident comedians. By the time she was 19 Pearl was the Windmill's principal solo dancer. She married Barker when he returned from six months touring Australia in October 1936.



    The couple moved to Stalisfield in Kent the following year, and joined a touring concert party run by Greatrix Newman – Pearl Hackney as a dancer and her husband as the comedian. When war came, Barker joined the Navy, and Pearl Hackney became one of the few women to serve in the Home Guard.



    After the war she regularly appeared with her husband in a satirical show, called Just Fancy, which Barker wrote for the fledgling BBC television service. The couple went on to feature in several other television series, but as Barker sought to expand into films, a stroke at the age of 52 ended his career.



    When Pearl Hackney found herself alone with a home and a semi-invalid husband to support, she began forging a new career for herself in the theatre. For two years she appeared in a West End production of Not Now, Darling, with Donald Sinden, and for a further two years in the musical Showboat, with Cleo Laine. Television and radio parts followed.



    She appeared in Coronation Street, Are You Being Served?, several episodes of All Creatures Great and Small, and played Mrs Pike in the radio version of Dad's Army. Her film credits included parts in There's A Girl in My Soup (1970) and Yanks (1979.



    When she finally retired in her seventies, Pearl Hackney served on Stalisfield parish council and helped turn the village into a conservation area.



    She died on September 18.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: UK Windthrop's Avatar
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    RIP Pearl



    Didn't realise that Barker had been invalided out so young - he was still quite active after the age of 52 according imdb and it was Parkinsons that eventually curtailed his career IIRC.



    The obit strangley failed to mention their daughter Petronella Barker and grandaughter Abigail Hopkins (father Anthony)

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Mark O's Avatar
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    R.I.P. Pearl........



    Her role in Coronation Street was that of Renee Bradshaw's mother who attended her wedding to Alf Roberts, then her funeral two years later, Renee was played by Madge Hindle.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    From The Times

    October 9, 2009

    Pearl Hackney: actress

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/com...cle6868385.ece



    Pearl Hackney’s career tended to be overshadowed by that of her husband, the comedian Eric Barker, with whom she often appeared, but she was a skilled performer in her own right, playing a variety of roles on radio, television and the stage.



    She was born in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, in 1916, to a commercial traveller and a dressmaker, though the family had been in the pottery business. She grew up in Liverpool and showed an early talent for ballet. Although her parents could not afford to send her to London, she had lessons from Anna Pavlova.



    Her first professional job was in pantomime in Hull, after which she auditioned for the Windmill Theatre in London, starting in the chorus and becoming principal dancer. She first met Barker, who was working at the Windmill as a comedian, when she was 15 and although he had a rival for her affections in Kenneth More, also at the Windmill, they were married in 1936.



    She and Barker left the Windmill to work in concert party until the Second World War, towards the end of which Barker came to national attention as writer and star on the forces radio show Merry-Go-Round. In the navy segment Barker played the sublieutenant in HMS Waterlogged and Hackney was a Wren. The show continued into peacetime and in 1948 spawned Waterlogged Spa, a fictional resort of which Barker was the manager and Hackney his secretary.



    In 1951 Barker launched a new series, Just Fancy, which depended less on gags than character comedy and, unusually for a radio variety show, had no studio audience. Barker and Hackney played versions of themselves. Just Fancy continued for 11 years and notched up more than 100 episodes. While it was still running, Barker and Hackney starred in another series, Barker’s Folly, the name of their supposed home where their domestic problems were interrupted by star visitors.



    In the early 1950s Barker moved into television with The Eric Barker Half Hour, a sketch show in which he was supported by Hackney, Nicholas Parsons and Deryck Guyler. Shrewdly aware of television’s power to gobble up material, Barker rationed himself to three series of six episodes spread over three years.



    Hackney went on to appear with Barker and Parsons in a show with a more satirical edge, Look At It This Way (1955). In one of the sketches Hackney launched a ship and some viewers complained that she looked and sounded like Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Barker rejected charges of bad taste, saying the character was based not on the Queen Mother but on an old friend.



    In the mid-1960s Barker suffered a serious stroke, which forced him into semi-retirement. As well as looking after him, Hackney started to make a new career on her own, becoming a familiar face in TV sitcoms. In The Best Things in Life (1969), she tried to get her daughter (June Whitfield) married off to a reluctant Harry H. Corbett. She was Derek Nimmo’s housekeeper in the clerical comedy Oh Father! (1973), and part of a Liverpool family divided by religion in The Wackers.



    In Funny Man, a 13-part series based on the music-hall family of the comedian Jimmy Jewel, she and Arthur English appeared as a ventriloquist act, with Hackney as the doll. For a radio comedy, Never Too Late (1980), Hackney, Thora Hird and Megs Jenkins played senior citizens determined not to be defeated by age.



    As a straight actress she appeared in Z Cars and had two stints in Coronation Street, as Ethel Bostock, the retiring mayoress handing over her chain of office to Annie Walker (1973), and as Daisy Hibbert, mother of the car crash victim Renee Roberts (1978-80). She had guest roles in Minder, Bergerac and All Creatures Great and Small.



    On stage she enjoyed long West End runs in the comedy Not Now, Darling, with Donald Sinden, and a 1970s revival of the musical Show Boat, with Cleo Laine. Her films ranged from sex comedies directed by Pete Walker to Richard Eyre’s The Ploughman’s Lunch and Laughterhouse.



    Eric Barker died in 1990 and she is survived by her daughter, Petronella, the former wife of the actor Anthony Hopkins.



    Pearl Hackney, actress, was born on October 28, 1916. She died on September 18, 2009, aged 92

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