Minerd.com Photo of the Month: Bobby “Uke” Henshaw, the Mimic and Ukulele Player

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Born in Wheeling, WV, Charles “Robert” Henshaw grew up in Ohio and became a noted vaudeville entertainer who made a name for himself in national and international circles. The trade magazine Box Office credits him with having “introduced the ukulele to England and then toured Europe with it…”Variety once called him a “vaudevillian known for his prowess on the ukulele” and the New York Clipper dubbed him “The Human Ukulele.”

In several bit parts, Bobby appeared in some now-obscure Hollywood films between 1935 and 1950. The first, Variety,  (1935), features the trials and tribulations of running a music hall. He also appeared in Oh, You Beautiful Doll (1949), Beyond the Forest (1949), The Set Up (1949) and Return of the Frontiersman (1950).

Bobby also performed on early television broadcasts, and an effort is being made to learn more about these early performances. For example, in September 1938, he performed comedy on BBC Television in London in the half-hour program Cabaret. Also on the show were his second wife, entertainer Doris Harding. Then during World War II, he and his troupe of USO performers toured far-flung military outposts, where the “boys sure need entertainment at the bases,” he wrote in a 1943 letter in The Billboard. “Sometimes we play where they are isolated for six and eight months, and it is a pleasure to hear them laugh.”

His third wife, singer Nadeen (Andrews) Paschal, used the stage name “Deane Janis.” She starred with Columbia Records and performed with the Hal Kemp Orchestra in the early 1930s in clubs from Los Angeles to New York to Miami. Among her more popular recorded songs were “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Remember My Forgotten Man” (1933). She also was the vocalist circa 1933-1935 for the Camel Caravan Radio Show, sponsored by Camel Cigarettes, airing on CBS-Radio.

Bobby was featured in the Minerd.com “Photo of the Month” in December 2008 and Deane in December 2010. Be sure to see Bobby’s Online Museum of Paper Artifacts on this website.

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