IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
Her Majesty's Theatre
Tommy Cooper died on stage here in 1984 in a dramatic final act.
Location: Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4QR
Description: This is the 4th Theatre to be located on this spot, since the first in 1705 was opened by Sir John Vanbrugh. It was the Queen's Theatre, The Kings Theatre and was mostly an opera house until it became Her Majesty's Theatre, Italian Opera House in 1837 for Queen Victoria.
Between 1711 and 1739, more than 25 operas by George Frideric Handel premiered here.
Ten years later that proved a mouthful and the latter was dropped from its name.
The current theatre was rebuilt in 1897 by renowned Theatre architect CJ Phipps.
On 15th April 1984, Tommy Cooper collapsed during a live television broadcast at Her Majesty's Theatre. The people in the audience were still laughing as Tommy, lying on the stage, had the curtain brought down on him and the show cut to a commercial break. The show's host, one of Tommy's great friends, Jimmy Tarbuck, recalled the moment. As usual, he was supposed to make a mess of the last trick. He was wearing a long cloak from which he was supposed to start bringing out large objects. Then a ladder would come through his legs followed by a milk churn and a long pole. When Tommy fell backwards I thought he'd put another gag in. I thought he was going to do some levitation trick from under his cloak. We all expected him to get up and we waited for the roar of laughter. It was terrible when he didn't. Ten minutes later Tommy Cooper died on the way to hospital.
Also, the institution that was to become RADA was founded in a room at the top of this theatre.
Tagged in this Tour: Tommy Cooper's London