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Jack Hylton

Jack Hylton

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Jack Hylton was a British band leader and impresario
Impresario
An impresario is a person who organizes and often finances concerts, plays or operas; analogous to a film producer in filmmaking, television production and an angel investor in business...

.

He was born John Greenhalgh Hilton in the Great Lever
Great Lever
Great Lever is mainly a residential suburb of Bolton in Greater Manchester, England. Historically within Lancashire, it is about 2½ miles south of Bolton town centre and the same distance north of Farnworth town centre. Great Lever has many shops and services serving the local community...

 area of Bolton
Bolton
Bolton is a town in Greater Manchester, in the North West of England. Close to the West Pennine Moors, it is north west of the city of Manchester. Bolton is surrounded by several smaller towns and villages which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, of which Bolton is the...

, Lancashire, the son of George Hilton, a cotton yarn twister. His father was an amateur singer at the local Labour Club and Jack learned piano to accompany him on the stage. Jack later sang to the customers when his father bought a pub in nearby Little Lever, becoming known as the "Singing Mill-Boy". He also performed as a relief pianist for various bands.

His early career involved moving to London as a pianist in the 400 club and playing with the Stroud Haxton Band. During the first world war he moved to be a musical director of the band of the 20th Hussars and the Director of the Army Entertainment Division. After the war he went on to play with the Queen's Dance Orchestra where he wrote arrangements of popular songs and had them recorded under the label 'Directed by Jack Hylton'. He went on from here to form his own band, recording the new style of jazz derived American dance music under the Jack Hylton name from 1923. Hylton became a respected band leader with a busy schedule; his band had developed into an orchestra and toured America and Europe into the 1940s until it disbanded due to the war. He became a director and major shareholder of the new Decca
Decca Records
Decca Records began as a British record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934; however, owing to World War II, the link with the British company was broken for several decades....

 record label.

At this point in his career he became an impresario discovering new stars and managing radio, film and theatre productions from Ballets to Circuses. His productions dominated the London theatres with such productions as The Merry Widow
The Merry Widow
The Merry Widow is an operetta by the Austro–Hungarian composer Franz Lehár. The librettists, Viktor Léon and Leo Stein, based the story – concerning a rich widow, and her countrymen's attempt to keep her money in the principality by finding her the right husband – on an 1861 comedy play,...

, Kiss Me Kate
Kiss Me Kate
Kiss Me Kate was a British sitcom that ran from 1998 until 2000. It followed the everyday life of a woman counsellor, Kate , who must not only manage her clients' problems, but must also help her neighbours and unsuccessful business partner, Douglas, played by Chris Langham. Amanda Holden played...

and Kismet
Kismet
Kismet may refer to:* Fate or Destiny in Turkish and Hindi-Urdu, a predetermined course of events, from Persian qesmat, from Arabic qisma, lot, from qasama, to divide, allot...

.

Contracted as Advisor of Light Entertainment to Associated-Rediffusion (A-R), winners of the London weekday franchise in the recently established ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 network, he founded Jack Hylton Television Productions Ltd in that same month to produce a range of light entertainment programming exclusively for that company. At the same time he was still producing stage shows, as well as taking a leading role in organising various Royal Command Performances, until his final stage production Camelot in 1965. He helped to develop the careers of many famous performers such as Shirley Bassey
Shirley Bassey
Dame Shirley Bassey, DBE , is a Welsh singer. She found fame in the late 1950s and was "one of the most popular female vocalists in Britain during the last half of the 20th century"...

, Maurice Chevalier
Maurice Chevalier
Maurice Auguste Chevalier was a French actor, singer, entertainer and a noted Sprechgesang performer. He is perhaps best known for his signature songs, including Louise, Mimi, Valentine, and Thank Heaven for Little Girls and for his films including The Love Parade and The Big Pond...

, Morecambe and Wise
Morecambe and Wise
Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, usually referred to as Morecambe and Wise, or Eric and Ernie, were a British comic double act, working in variety, radio, film and most successfully in television. Their partnership lasted from 1941 until Morecambe's death in 1984...

, Tony Hancock
Tony Hancock
Anthony John "Tony" Hancock was an English actor and comedian.-Early life and career:Hancock was born in Southam Road, Hall Green, Birmingham, England, but from the age of three was brought up in Bournemouth, where his father, John Hancock, who ran the Railway Hotel in...

, Arthur Askey
Arthur Askey
Arthur Bowden Askey CBE was a prominent English comedian.- Life and career :Askey was born at 29 Moses Street, Liverpool, the eldest child and only son of Samuel Askey , secretary of the firm Sugar Products of Liverpool, and his wife, Betsy Bowden , of Knutsford, Cheshire...

, the Crazy Gang
Crazy Gang
The Crazy Gang is a nickname used by the English media to describe Wimbledon F.C. during the 1980s and the 1990s.The name, originally that of a well known group of British comedy entertainers popular in the late 1930s, was used because of the often eccentric and boisterously macho behaviour of...

, George Formby
George Formby
George Formby, OBE , born George Hoy Booth, was a British comedy actor, singer-songwriter, and comedian. He sang light, comical songs, accompanying himself on the banjo ukulele or banjolele...

 and Liberace
Liberace
Wladziu Valentino Liberace , best known simply as Liberace, was a famous American pianist and vocalist.In a career that spanned four decades of concerts, recordings, motion pictures, television and endorsements, Liberace became world-renowned...

.

In 1965 a televised tribute to Hylton, The Stars Shine for Jack, was held in London on Sunday 30 May at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is a West End theatre in Covent Garden, in the City of Westminster, a borough of London. The building faces Catherine Street and backs onto Drury Lane. The building standing today is the most recent in a line of four theatres at the same location dating back to 1663,...

 with many artists including Arthur Askey
Arthur Askey
Arthur Bowden Askey CBE was a prominent English comedian.- Life and career :Askey was born at 29 Moses Street, Liverpool, the eldest child and only son of Samuel Askey , secretary of the firm Sugar Products of Liverpool, and his wife, Betsy Bowden , of Knutsford, Cheshire...

, The Crazy Gang
The Crazy Gang
The Crazy Gang were a group of British entertainers, formed in the early 1930s. In the mature form the group's six men were Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen, Jimmy Nervo, Teddy Knox, Charlie Naughton and Jimmy Gold...

, Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich was a German-American actress and singer.Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself, professionally and characteristically. In the Berlin of the 1920s, she acted on the stage and in silent films...

, Dickie Henderson
Dickie Henderson
Dickie Henderson, OBE was a London-born entertainer.-Early years:His father, Dick Henderson was a music hall comedian and singer famous for his short, rotund appearance, bowler hat and beautiful singing voice...

, and Shirley Bassey
Shirley Bassey
Dame Shirley Bassey, DBE , is a Welsh singer. She found fame in the late 1950s and was "one of the most popular female vocalists in Britain during the last half of the 20th century"...

.

He was married twice; firstly in 1922 to bandleader Ennis Parkes (they separated in 1929) and secondly, in Geneva in 1963, to Australian model and beauty queen Beverley Prowse (1932–2000).

He had a son, Jack (b.1947), by Pat Taylor, a singer and actress and two daughters, Frederika (b.1932) and Georgina (b.1938), by model Frederika Kogler ("Fifi").

Death


On 26 January 1965, complaining of chest and stomach pains, Hylton was admitted to the London Clinic. He died there three days later, on 29 January, from a heart attack, aged 72.

Hylton's spending habits and generosity left his estate with £242,288 gross, despite the many millions which he earned during his career. With duty (taxes) of £83,484, this left £151,160 to be distributed among his heirs, with the first £30,000 reserved for his widow, Beverley. As Hylton said to his son during his latter years, "I won't leave you much, but we'll have a good laugh spending it while I'm here!"

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