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Jazz Remembered


Pat O'Malley

by Jeff Duck


Pat O'Malley


Pat in his early days with Jack Hylton and their 'hot' version of Happy Feet.
He is accompanied by two other voices to emulate the Paul Whiteman version with The Rhythm Boys.




So 2019 is here, these articles have been an interesting exercise for me. Giving me a deeper insight into the various artists I have written about and a bigger interest into past characters of the British entertainment business. How funny that the subject of this Musical Missive, Pat O'Malley, although born in Burnley in Lancashire, England to an Anglo-Irish family, spent most of his later years working in America after making a large number of British recordings!

Vocalist Pat O’Malley, born on March 15th 1904 was a singer and character actor. His singing career started in the early 1920s appearing in shows around the northern UK music hall circuit. It was in 1925 that Pat joined Jack Hylton and his Orchestra.

Listen to Pat singing Little White Lies with the Jack Hylton Orchestra in 1930. I don't know what movie the accompanying video comes from. The band includes Paul Fenoulhet (trumpet and trombone) and Billy Ternent (tenor sax) both who became bandleaders in their own right.




One of Pat’s early popular recordings as principal singer with the Hylton line-up was a 1930 tribute song to aviator Amy Johnson titled Amy, Wonderful Amy. Pat started a solo singing career in 1935 alongside his work with the Hylton Orchestra.

According to the website, 'On February 25, 1930, Hylton also recorded a different and longer ‘concert’ arrangement (of the tune Body And Soul) which was issued on a 12-inch 78. Libby Holman introduced this great standard in the 1930 Broadway revue “Three’s A Crowd.” The Paul Whiteman orchestra released what was purportedly the best-selling 1930 recording of the song and the later Coleman Hawkins treatment is considered a jazz classic. The original 78rpm single was issued on HMV B-5777 - Body And Soul (Heyman-Sour-Green) by Jack Hylton & his Orchestra, vocal by Pat O’Malley, recorded in London February 7, 1930'.


Listen to Body And Soul with Jack Hylton and Pat O'Malley




and here is the Coleman Hawkins version





We are reminded that Jack Hylton's '... good reputation allowed him to make contacts with famous jazz artists of the time, hence the reason he was credited for bringing Duke Ellington to England in 1933. This overall success allowed Jack Hylton's band not only to entertain people in Britain, but also abroad. The band frequently had what were called 'continental tours' which made it famous in various places in Europe, especially in France'.

Sometime near the end of 1935, Pat and Hylton went to America with the plan to make various recordings with American musicians, there are rumours that when Hylton returned to England Pat stayed in America. However I do believe that Pat returned a few days after Hylton to say his farewells to his family, friends and fellow artists.

By now, Pat was becoming established as a solo vocalist outside of the dance band scene - here is a Pathé video of him singing the ballad Orchids To My Lady. A young lady accompanies him on a piano. Information suggests that this is Pat's future bride - Margaret Mullen from Scotland.





The website has a number of photographs of Pat with Jack Hylton and writes of the film On The Air - In The Air: 'In the film (below) you will see the band waiting on the steps to board the plane. Sonny Farrar (banjo) at the top of the steps and Pat O’Malley (guitar) just below him. The whole band playing that “Swingy Little Thingy” song. Then they board the plane, still playing and Pat gives a nod to the camera. When on board there is another glimpse of Pat playing his tenor guitar. For later American tours Jack Hylton seems to have got Pat to double up as vocalist/guitarist when he left Sonny Farrar in charge of the band in England'.





Pat returned to America before the start of World War II and was soon employed as a voice-over player and actor in various roles on television and film. Pat changed his professional name to J. Patrick O’Malley (soon to be shortened to J. Pat O’Malley) to avoid any confusion with the already working and recognised American actor Pat O’Malley; to add to the confusion the Australian-born actor John P. O'Malley was also active in the film industry at the time.

After the war Pat kept busy with voice-over work, mainly for Walt Disney. He was highly regarded by Disney as a voice coach as well as a talented voice-over actor. In 1946 he provided the voice of Br'er Fox in Song of the South (1946) when James Baskett was unavailable. Here is an extract from Song of the South.




Pat played all the parts including Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Walrus, the Carpenter, and Mother Oyster in the “The Walrus and the Carpenter” segment of Alice in Wonderland in 1951 and many other film and television roles followed including Lassie Come Home as the character “Hynes”; a sheriff in the series The Adventures of Kit Carson from 1951 to 1955, and in 1964 Pat played many voice-overs in the film Mary Poppins. The actor Dick Van Dyke attributed his 'cockney' accent to Pat as his voice coach. In 1967 he voiced Colonel Hathi (the elephant) and the vulture Buzzie in The Jungle Book..


Pat O'Malley


Here is the Dawn Patrol / Elephant Smash extract from The Jungle Book.




The “Twilight Zone” series played a big part in Pat’s life in the 1960s as he played many different roles in many episodes. In 1963 to 1964 Pat also appeared in eight episodes of “My Favourite Martian” before returning to “The Twilight Zone”. Acting work in TV continued in the early 1970s with also some comedy acting, but with a fragility from his increase in age, acting roles were shortened but continued until Pat’s last TV role in the series “Barney Miller” in 1981.

Pat O'Malley's career took a different path after his days with Jack Hylton, but it is worth remembering his contribution to those 'dance band days'. I guess Ain't That The Way It Goes.




Pat O’Malley passed away in California on February 27th 1985 of cardovascular disease shortly before his 81st birthday. Pat left behind him over 400 British recordings, Some with Hylton and some as a solo artist, and many filmed television and movie roles. Pat will always be remembered for his twinkling eyes, warm smile and friendship to many.

Pat O'Malley


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© Sandy Brown Jazz 2019

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More Jazz Remembered
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