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Home » Yeadon » People-Yeadon » Howard, Sydney (Comedian) and Family – 1913 Onwards

Howard, Sydney (Comedian) and Family – 1913 Onwards

Sydney Howard 1913

Title Sydney Howard
Date 1913
Location Yeadon
Photo ID B046
Comment See below…

Sydney Howard was born on 7th August 1881 in a small town on the border of Cheshire/ Staffordshire, his father Robert brought his family to Yeadon when Sydney was very young.
Robert had a shop on the High Street selling stockings and paper goods, one of his daughters (Mrs Dawson) would at a later date run the shop.
There was also a factory making paper bags in the Well Lane area and the family initially lived on Otley Lane then moving to a house on the High Street.
Sydney first worked in a mill, then as a representative for his father’s business but his ambition was to become a professional entertainer.
He appeared in many local amateur shows and did become a professional, joining sea-side concert troupes, playing in pantomimes and musicals.
He became adept at playing drunks and was cast in this role many times.
He married Dora White, daughter of Fred White who had a newsagents shop on Ivegate (now Rivoli Pizza), they had one daughter, Wendy.
Sydney served during the First World War in the Navy then transferred into the newly formed RNAS.
He continued with his career after the war and began to appear in films, in the summer of 1930 scenes for “Up For The Cup” were shot in Yeadon featuring the looms at Crompton Mill, the exterior of Manor Mill and King Street, sadly a copy of this film no longer seems to exist as many local people and children were in the crowd scenes.
His biggest break came when he starred in the first British production of “Anything Goes” at the Palace Theatre, London.
He went on to star in many more films and musical comedies, appearing with stars like Gracie Fields, Jack Buchanan and Leslie Henson.
He made one film in America “Trans Atlantic Merry-go-round” and enjoyed mingling with the Hollywood elite.
Sydney and Dora made the most of his good fortune, spending winters in the south of France, holidays to Egypt and other exotic (then) places.
Curiously they never bought a house, living in the Park Lane hotel when in London or staying with the Whites on Ivegate when they returned to Yeadon.
They never possessed a car, preferring to use taxis.
Sydney died on 12th June 1946, Dora had predeceased him, he was buried in Yeadon Cemetery and Yeadon came to a standstill the day of the funeral.

Wendy Howard c1925

A709 – Wendy Howard, c1925.

Wendy Howard – c1925

Mary Wendy Howard 1911 – 1973
Daughter of Robert Sydney Howard (1884 – 1946) and Dora Elizabeth Mills White (1886 – 1943)

Portrait of Wendy Howard, only child of comedian Sydney Howard and his wife Dora, nee White.
Wendy spent much of her childhood living with her White grandparents, uncle Donald and aunt Chrissie (Cristobel), the family ran a newsagents business on Ivegate, the premises are now occupied by Rivoli Pizza (2019).
Wendy attended Yeadon and Guiseley Secondary School and trained as a gym mistress, teaching at Dulwich College.
She often appeared in amateur shows produced by her uncle Donald in the Temperance Hall, after her parents had died she had a house built on Harrogate Road and lived there with her aunt Chrissie until she herself died in the 1970s.

Wendy Howard 1925

AA104 – Sydney Howard, 1925.

Wendy Howard – 1925

The girl standing behind the bench is Wendy Howard. Seated, on the left is Maggie Tillotson (later Sutcliffe), the boy is Dennis Sutcliffe with Miss Chrissie (Christabel) White on his right, she was Wendy Howard’s aunt, her sister Dora White married comedian Sydney Howard. The lady on the left is unknown, Burnsall bridge is in the background.

Wendy Howard c1930s

R015 – Wendy Howard, c1930s.

Wendy Howard – c1930s

Wendy Howard was the only child of actor/ comedian Sydney Howard and his wife Dora (nee White). 
She spent much of her childhood with her White grandparents, aunt Christabel and uncle Donald White, they had a newsagents shop on Ivegate (now Rivoli Pizza. January 2013). 
She attend Yeadon & Guiseley Secondary School and became a gym mistress at Dulwich College.

 When in Yeadon Wendy made appearances in shows at the Temperance Hall which her uncle Donald produced.

Wendy Howard c1930s

R016 – Wendy Howard, c1930s.

Wendy Howard – 1930s

This image is signed on the back “With Love Wendy”, she appeared in shows produced at the Temperance Hall by her uncle Donald White.
Presumably she inherited her love of performance from her father, famous actor and comedian Sydney Howard.

Sydney Howard 1931

C255 – Sydney Howard, 1931.

Sydney Howard – 1931

This image is a still from the film “Up For The Cup”.
Directed by Jack Raymond and co-starring Joan Wyndham, Sydney plays the part of a rather gormless Yorkshire lad who goes to London to see the FA Cup Final only to lose his money and ticket for the game.
A few scenes were shot in Yeadon, the children seen here were pupils at South View School, filming also took place outside Manor Mill when the workforce were streaming out through the mill gates.
Sadly, a copy of the film no longer seems to exist.

Donated by Howard German.

Sydney Howard 1937

H138 – Sydney Howard, 1937.

Sydney Howard – 1937

A photo which was published in the Airedale Pictorial, Sydney is seen with a group of children at a pantomime rehearsal which was produced by the Yeadon Temperance Amateurs. Sydney had links with this group, his daughter Wendy often appeared in the shows which were produced by her uncle Donald White, Sydney’s brother-in-law. The girl kneeling 2nd from the left is Renee Luty.

Sydney Howard 1939

E417 – Sydney Howard, 1939.

Sydney Howard – 1939

Comedian Sydney Howard seen here with Gracie Fields, they starred together in the film “Shipyard Sally” made in 1939.
It featured Miss Fields most popular song “Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye”.
Donation from Sarah Granby with the comment ” This picture was sent to me by Gracie after they saw a tweet in which I made reference to Sydney Howard being my great-great uncle”.

Donated by Sarah Granby.

Sydney Howard 1940s

FBA226 – Sydney Howard, 1940s.

Sydney Howard – 1940s

Sydney Howard is on the left carrying bowls, Jack and mat.
On the right is Walter Clapham, they were playing at Rufford Park Bowling Club.

Sydney Howard 1939

FBA227 – Sydney Howard, 1939.

Sydney Howard – 1939

Sydney is crouching to send the jack out for a game of bowls.
His partner was Walter Clapham and the venue was Rufford Park Bowling Club.

Sydney Howard Undated

G003 – Sydney Howard, Undated.

Sydney Howard – Undated

Portrait of Sydney Howard in a pensive pose.

Sydney Howard Undated

G004 – Sydney Howard, Undated.

Sydney Howard – Undated

An older photo of Sydney with his trademark lugubrious expression, this glum face was a feature of the many characters he played on stage and on film.
It is possible this image was used in an advertising campaign for cigarettes which he took part in.

Sydney Howard Undated

FBA222 – Sydney Howard, Undated.

Sydney Howard – Undated

Sydney Howard seen on holiday, in contrast to the small mill town of Yeadon where they had both grown up, he and his wife Dora (nee White) enjoyed frequent luxurious holidays abroad.
A favourite destination in winter was Juan-les-Pins on the French Riviera, they travelled further afield to Egypt for instance where Sydney was struck down by an ear complaint which meant a stay in hospital.
This was in 1935 when Sydney should have been in Yeadon to present George V Silver Jubilee mugs which he had bought for the schoolchildren, his daughter Wendy deputised for him.

Sydney Howard Undated

FBA223 – Sydney Howard, Undated.

Sydney Howard – Undated

Sydney is enjoying a meal during a break in filming.

Sydney Howard

H137 – Sydney Howard, 1996.

Sydney Howard – 1996

Some of the material about Sydney Howard kept in the archive of the AHS.

It includes a short biography written by a local Minister who knew Sydney and the service sheet from his funeral.

Sydney Howard Undated

FB293 – Sydney Howard, Undated.

Sydney Howard – Undated

A display in Rawdon Library to commemorate the life of comedian Sydney Howard.
The display board in view has images of his daughter Wendy, a family member donated a photographic collection of Sydney and his family, stills from his films and holiday pictures to Leeds Libraries when Wendy died in the 1970s.
Wendy spent much of her childhood in Yeadon, living with her maternal grandparents who kept a newsagents shop on Ivegate (now Rivoli Pizza), her aunt Chrissie (Christobel White) and uncle Donald White also lived there.
She attended Yeadon and Guiseley Secondary School and went on to train as a gym mistress.
After the deaths of her parents she had a house built on Harrogate Road where she lived with aunt Chrissie.

Sydney Howard Undated

FB294 – Sydney Howard, Undated.

Sydney Howard – Undated

A display to mark Sydney Howard’s life and career which was held in Rawdon Library 50 years after his death. 
Sydney had enjoyed huge success as a comedian appearing in West End shows and films with stars such as Gracie Fields (Title -Shipyard Sally), he ventured out to Hollywood to appear in the film “Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round”. 
It is generally believed that had he not died just before the advent of televisions becoming a standard feature in every home he would still be remembered more widely.

Previous Comments:

Re B046
Of all the bio’s I have read about Sydney yours is the only which has got his birthplace correct.
07 August 2016.

Re C255
I was yrs old in 1931 and I remember going to see this film at the local picture house and at the time I knew quite a lot of the people in this photo, sadly I cannot name any of them with any degree of certainty.
08 August 2014.

Re FBA225
The girl second on the left looks like Ann lee, and the girl on the extreme right front row is my cousin Phyllis Kilburn.
05 June 2014.

Re FBA226 & FBA227
What wonderful memories of my childhood these two faces bring back, Walt Clapham was the owner of the “Oldest fish shop in the world” on Sandy Old Way at this time and my father and I used to cut fish and chop chips for him in the cellar below the shop.
05 June 2014.

Consolidated by Jack Brayshaw. 03 November 2021.
Last updated: 29 June 2022 – Photo ID: H137, H138, E417, A709, AA104, R016, R015, FB293, FB294.

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