QI does it again! I had not heard of this music hall performer until last night.
Little Tich, born Harry Relph, (21/7/1867 – 10/2/1928) was most famous for his Big Boot dance, which involved a pair of 28-inch boots. He was also popular as a pantomime dame, appearing one season with Marie Lloyd and Dan Leno.
This surviving film of the Big Boot dance, made by Clément-Maurice for the Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre in 1900, was described by Jacque Tati as 'a foundation for everything that has been realised in comedy on the screen
Relph was born in Cudham, now Greater London, one of fifteen children to the landlord of the Blacksmith's Arms. He made his first stage appearance at the age of twelve at. Anyone stout at that time earned the nickname of Tich (referring to the Tichborne claimant); Harry who was only 4ft 6in (1.37m) became Little Tich. He performed internationally, and at the age of 42 was made an officer of the French Academy for his performances at the Foleies Begers. His final performance was in London in 1927, with Jack Hylton’s Band. He died the following year.
He was also polydactyl, having five fingers and a thumb on each hand, and six toes on both feet. Mementoes of his life are still preserved at the Blacksmith’s Arms. I must visit the place. There was a pub called the Grafton in Strutton Ground, off Victoria Street in Central London which had a load of Goons memorabilia. All that went when it became another bloody Oirish pub. NB I am proud to be an Irish citizen, I just despise these ersatz drinking holes. If you want to see a real Irish pub visit the Malpaso Bar in Millstreet, county Cork (Sorry Brian, it’s been too long since I’ve been there)