Arthur Lucan (Arthur Towle)
BiographyBoston, Lincolnshire, England, UK
Arthur Towle was in show business from 1900 when he left school until his dying day. He started as an "Irish" character comedian in British music halls; touring Ireland with this act in 1913, he met and married Kitty McShane (she was 15, he 26). They gradually evolved the act of "Old Mother Riley and her Daughter" (Arthur, in drag, playing the former) which continued popular nearly 40 years, and Arthur adopted the stage name Lucan to sound more Irish. Read more... released. Cheaply made and highly profitable, 15 films (1937-1952) starred Lucan in the richly comic role of Mrs. Riley, making him a Top Ten star in England in 1942. The gangly Mother Riley was usually a charwoman or laundress, but some entries found her running a shop or pub with the aid of her daughter Kitty. Lucan's comedy came from Mother Riley's absurd predicaments, eccentric ways, facial and bodily contortions, and malapropism-filled tirades against all who displeased her, seasoned with "knockabout" slapstick. By 1951, Lucan and McShane had separated, and Kitty did not appear in Arthur's last film, though he continued to support her. He was struggling with a large tax debt in 1954 when he unexpectedly collapsed and died in a Yorkshire theatre before his stage show.