Percy Thomas (Harry) Brunning

Percy Thomas Brunning was born in Hackney, London in 1889 and died in 1973. He was an actor who used the stage name "Harry" - some of his movies are listed here in the iMDB database. Some pictures are shown here and a list of some of the parts here.
In his own words...

I started in the theatrical profession as a mimic impersonating Comedians, George Robey, Harry Lauder, Harry Tate, Wilkie Hard, Fred Emney, Harry Weldon, George Formby, T. E. Dunville, Sam Mayo etc. but gradually developed an individual style of my own.
First Concert Party with Powis Pinder in the Isle of Wight, Shanklin, where Arthur Askey was eventually discovered.
Went to South Africa for Eight week engagement and stayed over two years. Played Vaudeville and Three Revues, "Peep Show" "Spangles" and "Round in 50".
Came back to England - played for Andre Charlot at the Vaudeville Theatre London with Archie Bascomb, Ethel Levey etc.
Understudied George Robey in the two shows at the London Hippodrome and Palladium.
Played Twelve Summer Seasons with Greatrex Newman's famous "Fol de Rols" as Principal Comedian.
Ran my own show for two years "So this is Romance" in conjunction with Ernest Crampton.
For several years a well-known figure in the London Concert and Masonic world with Askey, Jack Warner, Elsie and Doris Walters and other stars.
Have broadcasted several times in "Music Hall", "Palace of Varieties", "Variety Bandbox" and many other programmes.
Televised at Alexandra Palace as single turn.
Several pantomimes, Dame, Simple Simon, Idle Jack, King etc.

True Stories

Whilst playing in "Round in 50" in Johannesburg, South Africa, I was supposed to be hauled up to the deck of a big liner from small Motor Boat. The side of the liner was depicted on the Cinema Screen - just a mass of portholes - and I had to shout up to the deck to lower down a line to pick me up. Down came a Lifebelt on a rope in which I sat and was hauled up into the Flies - then BLACKOUT. A wonderful effect from the front of the House - I had apparently caught the boat after missing it and was again on my way. Unfortunately one night the rope was not tied very tightly to the lifebelt with the result that my weight unloosed it and I dropped about 15 feet on to the stage. This naturally put the wind up me for the next few nights, but the knot was always thoroughly tested after that and I forgot the danger until one night I was hauled up rather too quickly, my hand came into contact with a large iron batten, the stage was blacked out as usual, but someone forgot to lower the curtain - I could not be lowered until the curtain was down, and there I was hanging on to the rope in pitch darkness, with a 30 foot drop to the stage and wondering all the time if the knot is going to hold. Well, what would you do, chum? I let out one loud yell "Curtain for Christ's sake" and you can imagine the yell of laughter this got from the audience who had by this time taken in the situation.

A somewhat similar experience occurred in another production. We were in a large Rocket supposed to be flying back from a visit to the moon. The Hero of the show was in the lower part with the beautiful daughter of the Man in the Moon, whilst I as his comic servant was cooking Bacon and Eggs in the upper part of the Rocket, which was supported on a rope from the flies and floating about the stage. Suddenly the knot slipped and the Rocket came down with a tremendous bump and settled at a nasty angle owing to the rake of the stage, leaning over the orchestra with only a piece of thin gauze between me and a 30 foot plunge into the Auditorium. However by cuddling the back of the rocket and ignoring the eggs and bacon I managed to play the scene out but I was not feeling in a very funny mood. We had to sack the Kaffir knot-tier and get a Naval man in to show us how the knot should be tied.

In the same show we had a big Dickensian scene where all his characters met. One of my characters was that of Tony Weller the coachman of the fullsize coach we managed to get on the stage - but only just. All went well until the Dress Rehearsal when we used the two horses for the first time. Unfortunately they were very spirited animals and as I jumped up on the seat and with a flourish of the whip shouted the cue for the exit of the coach, the tip of the whip happened to touch one of the horses on the ear and they both started off at a gallop right through the Olde Curiosity Shoppe. There was David Copperfield standing on top of the coach shouting "Goodbye Agnes - Goodbye" surrounded by large pieces of falling scenery, a coach full of screaming ladies, and a couple of frightened horses which had got loose by this time and had toddled off the stage the same way as they had come on, leaving the coach facing the opposite direction. For future performances I was allowed no whip and my reins were nailed to the front of the coach.

I have a tremendous lot of flattering press notices but the one I treasure most is one written by the famous Dramatic Critic IVOR BROWN in the Week-End Review in which he said:
"I was delighted to find in Mr. Harry Brunning a Comedian who might well hold office in that cabinet where Mr. George Robey is Prime Minister of Mirth."

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