Wilkie Bard

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Wilkie Bard
Birth name William August Smith
Born (1874-03-19)March 19, 1874
Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, England
Died May 5, 1944(1944-05-05) (aged 70)
Buckinghamshire, England
Genres vaudeville, music hall

Wilkie Bard (born William August Smith) (March 19, 1874 - May 5, 1944) was a popular British vaudeville and music hall entertainer and recording artist at the beginning of the 20th century. He is best known for his songs "I Want to Sing in Opera" and "The Night Watchman." [1]

Early life

Bard was born March 19, 1874 in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, Lancashire. His parents were William Herbert Smith and Marie Stetzer. Smith had a sister, Maria, who was 5 years older.

Performing career

Bard began performing at age 21, singing and performing comedy in his spare time. He most often appeared with a bald head and wore a black spot on each eyebrow. He also performed as female characters, specifically with his hit song "I Want to Sing in Opera." He had a long career in pantomime,[2] and introduced tongue twisters such as "She sells seashells by the seashore," based on a song he performed in the show "Dick Whittington and His Cat" in Drury Lane in 1908.[3]

Wilkie Bard performed in vaudeville in 1919.[4] His first appearance at the Palace, on October 20, 1919, was not well received,[5] but he reappeared a few days later with slightly altered material and became a hit.[6] In 1923, Bard appeared with Jack Pearl in tests for Lee DeForest's sound-on-film process Phonofilm. This short film is in the collection of the UCLA Film and Television Archive. In 1928, Bard appeared in two short films made in Phonofilm, The Cleaner and The Night Watchman, which may be in the collection of the British Film Institute.[7]

He performed in Australia in 1921.[8]

Personal life

Bard was married to Ellen Smith (née Stratton), who performed using the stage name Nellie Stratton. The 1881 and 1891 UK census returns show her name to be Nellie from birth (Peckham, London 1875).[9]


Wilkie Bard died in 1944 at the age of 70 in Buckinghamshire following a coronary thrombosis.

Partial discography


  • All Day and Martin
  • Sea Shells
  • The Policeman (I'm There If I'm Wanted)
  • You, You, You
  • Let Me Sing
  • My Little Deitcher Girl


  • I've Struck a Chorus
  • Put Me Upon an Island


  • Will You Sing This Glee with Me?
  • When the Bugle Calls
  • I Want to Sing in Opera
  • I Can Say 'Truly Rural'
  • I Really Can't Reach That Top Note
  • Come Up in my Balloon


  • See me Dance the Minuet
  • Valse, Valse, Valse
  • All Change for Llanfairfechan
  • Robert Go to Dinner
  • Doorkeeper at Frightley's


  • The Wiggly Rag
  • Don't Play in the Shadows
  • You've Got to Sing in Ragtime
  • The Bathing Machine Attendant


External links