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Stan Stennett MBE

Stan Stennett was born on 30th July 1925 in Bridgend; He was brought up in Gorseinon, Swansea, by an Aunt after his mother had died in childbirth. Stan has fond memories of his time in Swansea. He sold sweets at the local Cinema and in return would get free entry to the Matinees. This was to fuel his dream to be an entertainer, hoping to emulate stars such as Gene Autrey. Whilst in Swansea he saved up to buy a guitar and taught himself to play. Then along came the War. After Demob in 1947 he entered a talent contest at The Royal Gwent Talent Show in Newport, which he duly won. One of the judges on that day was Mair Jones – one of the producers of Welsh Rarebit – he was offered a spot as resident comedian on the show and was a great success, also appearing at the time were the Duo Albert And Les Ward the famous variety novelty act who also hailed from Cardiff. The two brothers predated artists such as Lonnie Donegan with their own version of skiffle. They played guitars, bicycle pumps, washboards and practically anything that would provide an accompaniment to their country and western type comedy songs. Stan Stennett’s talent led to other performances up and down the length and breadth of the country in variety shows. He is also a gifted musician playing amongst other things the guitar and trumpet. Stan’s early career saw him perform with the likes of The Jack Parnell Group, Benny Hill, Charlie Chester, Norman Vaughan and Eddie Mendoza to name but a few and he was an immensely popular act wherever he went. His first Pantomime at The Grand in Swansea was in 1950/51’s “Red Riding Hood” with Maudie Edwards, Ossie Morris and Mary Sullivan. He has fond memories of Maudie Edwards as a great Diva of her day who would arrive at the theatre in a Chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce with a personalised number plate, but who also knew how to work an audience, and was a total professional. He had great success as Silly Billy in “Babes in the Wood in 1955/56 at The Swansea Empire and Much lower on the same bill in the roles of Marmaduke and Horace, were a couple of comics making a sentimental return to the Swansea Empire; Morecambe and Wise - Eric Morecambe became a great friend to Stan, and he was devastated when Eric Collapsed and died on stage at The Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury in May 1984, immediately after appearing in a charity show with Stan.  He appeared again in Panto at the Grand in the 1959/60 offering of “Mother Goose” with Tony Snape, Sylvia Norman and Eddie Henderson. Stan was living in Cardiff at the time and would travel home every night after the show. One night he was offered a lift home in Rex Willis’s new sports car. Stan duly accepted however the trip through the back roads through Pyle ended when Rex failed to negotiate a roundabout near Porthcawl and ended up on top of the roundabout with the wheels off the floor unable to move. At a ridiculous hour of the morning Stan and Rex had to use the car as a scrum machine to get it back onto the road and continue the journey. Stan was to build a very successful television career during this time appearing on “Coronation Street” and then “The Black and White Minstrel Show” for the BBC. He followed this up with a major part in “Crossroads” first as Harry Silver in 1970 and then as garage owner Sid Hooper from 1982 – 1987. Stan’s Last Pantomime at the Grand Theatre was in the 1969/70 presentation of “Robinson Crusoe”. Stan truly was the star of this Panto as he entertained the Swansea public with great talent and charisma, breaking box office records for a Panto at the Grand; it was also the longest running up until that point. He remembers a particularly hilarious moment during a performance at one of the Panto’s although he can’t recall which one it was. The stage door in those days went straight out into the street, and during a matinee performance one afternoon a coal deliveryman who also worked backstage at the theatre came in through the stage door. Instead of turning right as he usually would he turned left, walked straight across the Front of the stage nodded to Stan and carried on walking off to stage right. The audience fell about thinking it was part of the show. Stan also has happy memories of turning out to play for the local coal board soccer team during his Panto run. Stan Stennett still performs today in various variety and charity shows and his longevity is testimony to his talent and a genuine desire to entertain. He was honoured by Eamonn Andrews, and his big red book on “This Is Your Life” on January 5th 1983. In September of 2007 he made a glorious return to performing at the Grand Theatre Swansea, in Frank Vickery’s play “A Night On The Tiles”. He played the Granddad and was fantastic not belying his age of 82 years. It proves that star quality cannot be taught, you are born with it, and Stan has it in abundance.

Stan appeared at The Grand Theatre in Swansea on August 27th 2008 in his show "Bless Em All". Aimed at the older generation it ticked all the boxes in terms of entertainment. Filled with sing-a-long songs, comedy and accentuated with Stan's unique appeal, rounded off with The R.A.F St Athan Volunteer Band. A packed theatre for this afternoon performance were treated to the excellent comedian Johnny Dallas, the all-round entertainer Johnny Tudor, The Baritone Peter Lewis, the shrill tones of Shellie Dawn and the young but beautiful voice of Mandy Ann who has a very distinctive voice with very Welsh undertones. Stan first appeared at The Grand Theatre in the Pantomime Red Riding Hood in 1950/51 with Maudie Edwards and Ossie Morris