James (Jimmy) Logan

(James Short)

1928 - 2001

Entertainer and actor. Born James Short in Dennistoun (Glasgow) into a theatrical family. Logan's parents were the music hall act Short and Dalziel, his aunt (from whom he took his surname) was Ella Logan, star of Broadway musicals and his sister jazz singer Annie Ross (b.1930). Educated at Gourock High School, Logan left at 14 for the theatre. By 1944, he was in pantomime, his most enduring role. With his parents and siblings the Logan family played the Glasgow Metropole from the late 1940s. He bought this theatre in 1964 for £80,000, refurbishing it at great cost but further development was blocked by the Glasgow authorities and the spiralling costs almost ruined him. Logan lived in Helensburgh but also had a flat in Culzean Castle which had to be sold to support his failing theatre.

His first acting role was in the film Floodtide (1949), a drama set on Clydeside. His London stage debut came in The Mating Game (1973). His adaptation of Oor Willie for the Dundee stage flopped, but his show based on the life of Sir Harry Lauder proved a huge success (1976), playing to packed houses in Portobello, Lauder's home town, as part of the Edinburgh Festival (1986). Logan's large collection of Lauder memorabilia rests in the Scottish Theatre Archive at the University of Glasgow.

Other theatrical successes included The Entertainer (1984), Brighton Beach Memoirs (1989), The Comedians (1991), On Golden Pond (1996), together with a remarkable performance in Death of a Salesman at the Pitlochry Festival (1992).

Logan was awarded an honorary doctorate by Glasgow Caledonian University (1994), an OBE for his charitable works (1996) and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (1998). His personal life was traumatic; three of his four marriages ended in bitter divorce and he faced humiliation when it was revealed that twins by his third wife were not actually his. Logan died in hospital in Clydebank.

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