Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Comic Genius: Wilson, Keppel and Betty

Wilson & Keppel dancing in the 1930s to Elvis Presley Conversation in 1968. Comic Genius.

Wilson, Keppel and Betty were a popular British music hall act in the middle decades of the 20th century who capitalised on the trend for Egyptian imagery following the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Their stage act, called the "sand dance", was a parody of Egyptian postures, combined with references to Arabic costume. The lithe and extremely lanky Wilson and Keppel, who wore long mustaches and made up to emphasize the sharp angularity of the features so as to appear almost identical, would demonstrate their impressive suppleness in adopting wild gestures and dancing in identical "stereo" movements (using gestures vaguely reminiscent of Egyptian wall paintings).
Wilson Keppel Betty

Sometimes they were joined by Betty, over the years there were 8 'Bettys', most of these appearing during the act's later years. Their "Cleopatra's Nightmare" routine was performed in 1936 in Berlin and condemned by Joseph Goebbels as indecent. He was disgusted at the display of their bare legs, calling them ‘bad for the morals of Nazi Youth!

In what has to be one of the most amazing variety pairings of all time, they even appeared on the same bill as Frank Sinatra when he appeared at the London Palladium for a short season during July 1950.

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