June 2013 AGM

Special Guest Johnny Beattie

Tuesday 18 June

Actor Johnny Beattie MBE delighted 92 Glasgow Business Club members and guests at their final meeting of the season on Tuesday 18 June.

His light touch and laughter approach went down well. ‘My jaws are sore with laughing,’ said President Norman Ferguson in his vote of thanks.

Born in Govan on 9 November 1926, Johnny happily speeded through his life as an actor. The renowned Thespian – who was honoured by the Queen and by Glasgow City for his services to entertainment said: ‘I’ve had a ball!’

He said his role for the past ten years in Scottish TV soap ‘River City’ is ‘my pension.’ And pointed out when his gags were ‘vetted’ and indeed, erased, by the Lord Chamberlain’s Office in the 1950s. ‘At that time I was earning £12 a week in a Scottish show touring the country. But the fabulous Moxon Girls – who were the dancers – only got £3 a week,’ he pointed out. A notice at the stage door in the Gaiety Theatre in Ayr – his favourite theatre – instructed all performers to remember it was a family theatre and ‘only clean and wholesome material’ was to be used.

While he started life working in Fairfield shipyard, Johnny said he quickly got attracted into acting because ‘that’s where all the pretty girls seemed to be.’ He first watched, then joined a local amateur theatrical group and soon progressed into becoming a full time professional.

Now Honorary President of the Scottish Music Hall and Variety Theatre Society, Johnny has performed with most of the famous names of show biz. He gave interesting insights into the stars he revered and sometimes worked with, including Rikki Fulton, Stanley Baxter, Billy Connolly, Chic Murray and his great idol, Duncan Macrae. Said Johnny: ‘Duncan Macrae was a great actor. But people always associated him with ‘The Wee Cock Sparra,’ because his recitation of that poem was a highlight of TV hogmanay shows in the 1950s and 60s. But he hated it!’ Modestly, Johnny mentioned he was an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Rothesay for his work in promoting the Winter Gardens in the town. ‘The only other honorary member is Prince Charles, so that says something for democracy!’

Johnny also expressed his profound surprise that Glasgow had not exploited its connection with Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy fame. ‘Laurel was one of the funniest men in the world. The first time he performed on stage was in Glasgow at the Britannia Panopticon just before his 16th birthday in 1906. His father was the Theatre’s manager. Laurel went to Alan Glen’s school. But no-one seems to know that. I’d have expected big billboards and his face on the gable end of buildings to celebrate that connection.’

In time, Johnny’s face may be on those gable ends, but meanwhile the Club members ended their busy season with a smile, thanks to Johnny Beattie.

Photos from the Event

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