25.2.11

Ukulele Heroes - Tessie O'Shea

Next in the series of ukulele heroes, we turn to "The Wonder Of Wales", Tessie O'Shea.


tessie o shea ukulele

Born in Cardiff in 1913, Tessie was immediately brought up in the tradition of Music Hall, appearing on stage as young as the age of six as The Wonder Of Wales.  Working on stage, she learned the art of the stage, her trademark brash humour and also to play the ukulele and mandolin.

A large lady, the trademark part of her act was to play what became her signature song, Two Ton Tessie From Tennessee, accompanying herself on her ukulele banjo.  Through the 30's and 40's she was a regular on the show circuit, appearing on the Royal Variety Performance in 1944.  By the 1950's Tessie had established herself and had moved into recording her music.

In the 1960's, Tessie moved to the USA and embarked on an acting career, appearing on stage as Ada Cockle in the Broadway musical The Girl Who Came To Supper, a role written especially for her by Noel Coward.  In 1964 she shared the bill with The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, and moved on to work in films, acting in movies such as The Blue Lamp and Disneys Bedknobs & Broomsticks.

Tessie died in 1995 having made the US her home.

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