Gus Elen blue plaque in London

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Gus Elen (1862-1940), music hall comedian, lived here.

Ernest Augustus Elen (22 July 1862 – 17 February 1940) was an English music hall singer and comedian. He achieved success from 1891, performing cockney songs including "Arf a Pint of Ale", "It's a Great Big Shame", "Down the Road" and "If It Wasn't for the 'Ouses in Between" in a career lasting over thirty years.Born in Pimlico, London, Elen had worked as a barman and a draper's assistant and had packed eggs for the Co-op before becoming a singer. He began busking at an early age and found a position singing in a minstrel troupe. His solo success began in 1891 when he started performing in public houses, singing songs in a manner similar to many cockney fruit sellers and ironmongers of the time, known as costermongers. Because of this, he became known as a "coster comedian". For the stage persona he had created, Elen dressed in a coster uniform of striped jersey, peaked cap turned towards one ear and a short clay pipe in the side of his mouth. His characters adopted a persona of being constantly bad tempered and pugnacious. In 1907 he starred in a short film called Wait Till the Work Comes Round.In his later years, Elen was offered work in the USA due to the English music hall strike which was taking place that year. Elen, along with other comics of the day, including Albert Chevalier, performed their acts in the same manner as they did previously in the uk. However, the box-office sales indicated that Chevalier was more popular with American audiences than Elen and so he returned to the UK and performed for a further seven years as a top attraction in music halls across London. He appeared on stage occasionally in the 1930s, albeit briefly, where he appeared in the 1935 Royal Command Performance. He retired in 1914, shortly after returning from America. He made occasional appearances on stage and film before his death in 1940 aged 77.

Source: dbpedia

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