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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Jenny Howard

c. 1930s
an unknown artist

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 22.0 cm x 12.9 cm, image: 20.9 cm x 11.8 cm)

Jenny Howard née Daisy Blowes (1902-1996), stage performer, made her name in her native England as ‘the poor man’s Gracie Fields’, recording covers of Fields’s songs for a cut-price label and impersonating the star onstage. She came to Australia with her husband, actor and producer Percy King, in 1929. They performed together on the Tivoli circuit before returning to England where she made the film Dodging the Dole (1936). In 1940 they came back to Australia, entertaining soldiers and doing the Tivoli rounds again; this time, they remained. Here, Howard was billed as ‘the famous English comedy star’. During World War II she raised an enormous amount of money for Britain, and performed in historically little-known concert party tours to Papua New Guinea. In the last years of the war she was engaged as a comedienne at the Cremorne Theatre, Brisbane. In later life, her specialisation was as a pantomime ‘principal boy’. In the 1950s she several times entertained Allied troops in Korea. Meanwhile, in Australia, she toured in The Jenny Howard Show for the Sorlie Revue company, for instance appearing in Canberra in 1953 with acrobatic clowns The Flying Warrens and saxophonist and xylophonist June Daunt, and in Broken Hill in 1955 with circus performers The Myrons and The Muracs, singers The Bridges Sisters and dancers The Sadler Twins. She died in Tweed Heads at the age of 94.

Asked how she got her start in theatre, the Australian actor Jacki Weaver replied that it was when her grandfather took her to see a production of Aladdin: ‘It starred the fabulous Jenny Howard as the principal boy with her hands on her hips in tights, jerkin and high-heeled boots ready to take on all the villains. It was a magical experience.’

Purchased 2017

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Jenny Howard (age 28 in 1930)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency