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ESMA CANNON A brief history

Esma Cannon has become a bit of an illusive figure over the years, her birth date is still given Erroneously as 3rd December 1892 when in fact she was born Esma Ellen Charlotte Cannon on 27th December 1905 at Ruthsew Street, Randwick, Australia,.

Esma's Father (who was 33 at the time of her birth), Michael John Cannon (1871-1937) a book keeper, was born in Sydney New South Wales (he had a brother Manes Cannon born in 1873)Michael married Esma's Mother Lavinia Grace Margaret Ward on 14th November 1895 in the same location as both of their births. Esma's sister Veta Grace Doris Cannon married Jack Nimenski, sadly his wife Veta died young on 31st August 1924 at St Vincent's Private hospital, Darlinghurst in Australia. The family left her late residence, 37 Sophia Street, Bondi on Monday afternoon 1st september 1924 at 2.30pm to attend the funeral at the Church of England cemetery, South Head. One can only imagine what effect this had on the then 19 year old Esma and her Mother Grace, it would seem that they were inseperable for the rest of there lives after this event.

No details have come to light on the exact date Esma first arrived in London, although it is possible she was here from 1929 as a Mrs Grace Cannon was a passenger on a ship from Australia to England in 1929, she is listed as 50 years old and her address asThe Strand, London and occupation as Theatrical, is this Esma's Mother? no details can be found of an EsmaEsme Cannon arriving on the same route, although theatre listings indicate Esma was working in this country as early as 1930 in the plays "The Luck of The Navy" and "Brewster's Millions"However her mother is listed as living at 13 Devonport Mews (Later Radnor Mews) Paddington SW2 from 1937 to 1958, and Esma was listed at the same address from 1939 Esma married her husband, private corp Ernst Littmann (14/04/04-) a lawyer, on 5th September1945 at Paddington register office, and in 1946 Esma gave birth to their son, Michael Anthony Littman.In 1958 Esma, Ernst, Grace and Michael moved to 20 Priory Road NW6 (Camden) where they were listed until 1983.Esma made her last will and testament on 8th December 1967, she died at 7am on 18th October 1972 in France where she is also buried.She left an estate amounting to £23596.77

As you can see I have very few details regarding Esma's life, and would like to find out more, if anyone has information on the whereabouts for any living relatives, or any other details regarding Esma Cannon, Ernst Littmann, Michael Anthony Littman or other people connected to Esma in any way please contact me via this link - Cheers, Aaron (Site owner)

Above a Picture of Esma as Baby and Edward Landor as the Doctor in the 1915 play 'Seven Little Australians'

Esma Cannon is best remembered today for her appearances in the Carry-On films, and her stint on the BBC comedy show "The Rag Trade", but her career dates back to 1909 when she was just 4 years old, she appeared in an Australlian production of 'Madame Butterfly', her stage training began at Minnie Everett's school of dancing in Sydney, Australia, she later played the part of a child in many J.C.Williamson and Tait productions, she told the Australian Woman's weekly in 1963 "I was so tiny, I was playing children's roles even when I was an adult", How many shows she did as a child is unclear, but she was surely getting her fair share of attention at a very young age as the report in the watchman for 12th october 1911 makes clear,under the heading Lady Deman and the Toddler, the article starts off by telling the story of a little lassie named Marjorie Sargent, who forgot her lines and was noticed by Lady Denman, who noticed the little girls plight and came to her rescue with much applause from the audience, the report goes on to say, Later on, a five-year old toddler named Esma Cannon, of Waverley, caught the eye of Lady Deman, and she was accommodated with a seat next to the Governor-General during the entire performance. It seems even from a tender young age Esma Cannon knew how to steal the scene!

At the end of December 1914 at the grand old age of eight Esma was cast as 'Baby' in Ethel Turner's widely read "Seven Little Australians" which opened at the Palace Theatre on 2nd January 1915. Esma was a roaring succes in the part, The Sydney Sunday Times from 13th December 1914 had this to say, The rehearsals of "Seven Little Australians", which are vigorously progressing, have proved several shocks to the Beumont Smith stage management. One of the greatest has been the talent displayed by little Esma Cannon, a tiny mite who was selected to play the part of Baby, a young person who is discovered washing the kittens in an effort to please the old doctor who has charge of the seven young ragamuffins. Baby's is a small part only, and it was thought that it would come just within the capabilities of little Miss Cannon. To everyone's surprise however, before half a dozen rehearsals had passed the young lady knew every part in the piece, and was quite capable of speaking the lines of anyone in the show. The stage manager reckons that by the time December 26 comes round, Miss Cannon will be able to hustle him out of his job and take command herlself. 

The Referee newspaper of 30th December 1914 also noted, A big surprise in "Seven Little Australians" occureed in the homework scene, in which the Baby (Esma Cannon) played for two minutes on her violin. The audience's astonishment was keen when they heard her playing "The Wearin' of the Green." She looked hardly old enough to be able to hold the violin up .

It seems Esma adored the attention at a young age, The Sydney Sunday Times produced a large photograph of Esma as 'Baby' and Edward Landor as the Doctor in the 17th January 1915 edition, the play returned in July 1915 at The Theate Royal, Sydney, she was also listed as one of the children in the 1918 Australian stage play 'Daddy Long Legs' at His Majesty's Theatre and 'Eyes Of Youth' acting it seems was very much a part of her life from a tender age and she must have appeared in many productions in Australia before heading off to England to become a star!

Not much is known about her life in the 1920s, other than that of her sister's death in 1924, although an Austalian Women's weekly article from 10th October 1978 on Robert Helpmann had this to say, there was a time in the 1920s when a crowd of surfers threw him, fully clothed, into the sea at Bondi. The brightly dressed young Helpmann and his equally sensational girlfriend Esme Cannon were strolling on the sands one sunday Morning. At Helpmann's request Esme had plucked his eyebrow's and painted his nails red. And she admired his oxford bags, his pink shirt and purple tie. He was ahead of his time in dress by about 50 years, and a dumping in the surf was his reward.Whether this is the one and same Esma isn't absolutely clear, but it is possible that Helpmann's Esme is infact Esma Cannon of later Carry-On fame!

NB: There is a listing for an Esma Cannon playing the part of Nancy Girling in "Sealed Orders" at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London in April 1914,is it possible that the 9 year old Esma was playing this part in London? or is it more likely that there was another actress called Esma Cannon performing in London around this time?

It is unclear when Esma Cannon first came and worked in England, however it was probably around 1930 as she was appearing in the plays 'The Luck Of The Navy' and 'Brewster's Millions' as well as "Children In Uniform" in 1933, an interesting report in the 22nd January 1935 edition of the Australlian newspaper the Argus on Miss Merle Roberts reads, Miss Roberts, who has been away for four and a half years, appeared on the stage in London in the provinces and in Cairo. In London she played in "It's A Boy" and "In Children In Uniform" of Australlians abroad who are doing well in the theatre, Miss Roberts mentioned Miss Esma Cannon of Sydney. Miss Cannon has taken up stage managing and producing and she has had some success in the provinces. While in England Miss Roberts stayed with her aunt, the Dowager countess of Darnley. (passenger records indicate that Merle Roberts arrived in England on the 18th October 1930 and departed for Bombay 26th February 1934) Melborne was crossed out in the register!

Esma worked as the Stage Manager for the plays 'The Wind and The Rain" and "Take Heed" (Achtung!) both in 1934, it was reported back in 1937 in the Australian Women's Weekly, under the heading Remember Esme? that Esma's stage break in England came as follows, One night at a party where Clifford Mollison was one of the guests, she put on a funny act. Result, Mollison put her into "All Rights Reserved." She was so succesful that she got a part in "Love From a Stranger" and now Fox films have signed her up. The short article also stated she left Australia three or four years ago, although it seems she arrived much early than this, as she herself recalled in an Australlian Woman's Weekly artcle in 1963 She said"One day in Sydney , Percy Hutchinson told me he'd give me a part in a play whenever I went to England - so I decided I would like that part. The play was called Misadventure, and it was! But I was lucky enough to go straight into another play , which went well, and from there to another and so on"

Above is a 1939 Spotlight Advert for Esma

Esma had a glowing review from the The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer from 1st May 1935 for her part in "All Rights Reserved" which stated , forget not the country maid, Miss Esme Cannon, whose wide eyes and simpering innocence brought the house down every time , and equally praising was a review for "Love From A Stranger" on 1st April 1936, which said-From the remainder of a competent cast I choose Miss Esma Cannon for her quant study of a diminuitive servant-maid, it is also interesting to note that When the film version of "Love From A stranger" was released in 1937 the following note appeared in the 9th January 1937 edition of the same paper, I should have liked to see Esme Cannon repeat in the film her delicious stage characterisation of a half-daft and very inquisitive country maid. (the film part went to Joan Hickson, although Esma did appear in a BBC TV play version in 1938) 

Above a 1938 advert for the film £5 Man 

Esma Cannon's first film appearance it has been claimed was "The £5 Pound Man"(a supporting feature for the likes of God's Country And The Woman, and Lovely To look At) , although it was released the year after cinema goers would have caught a glimpse of her in the 1936 released film "Man Behind The Mask" 

All this aside it's clear Esma was an extremely busy lady in Britain in the 30's! Some notable, if all too brief stand out perfomances on film came in three George Formby films "I See Ice" as the giggling bride first seen in the films opening as George hilariously trys to take the married couples photograph, another brief but busy Maid part who opens the door to George in "It's In The Air" and one of my all time favourite Esma appearances as the google eyed giggling maid in "Trouble Brewing" who listens to George sing Fanlight Fanny 

Esma Cannon with Reginald Tate and Hugh Williams in "Man Behind The Mask" - 1936
Image taken from

The Stage newspaper noted her performance in the 1938 production of "Ma's Bit Of Brass", as follows, The remainder of the capable company must be mentioned,Esma Cannon who gives a capital impersonation of a grocer’s half-witted errand girl. Esma also appeared opposite the Great Margaret Rutherford in the Stage play "Tavern In The Town" (an excerpt of which appeard on BBC radio in 1937 as did the play "Runaway Love" in 1939) she also played opposite that great old lady of the stage and Ealing films Edie Martin in "Worth A Million" in 1939, how much of an influence working with these great actress's was, can I think be seen in her future performances, Esma Cannon was on her way to becoming a much loved and sort after character actress herself.

Esma Cannon had her fare share of bit parts, and many of those cast her as the Maid, I guess she did such a good job in "All Rights Reserved" that she cornered the market if you like for these parts, and it seems the audience and critics lapped up her 'Maid' character, as these reviews show, 'Esma Cannon in a lovely study of the awkward comic maid' ("He Didn't Want To Do It-New Theatre hull, 1941) , 'Rioutlously funny as a perpetually terrified housemaid' also 'Probably the only way to act the part is on the lines of caricature, this applies to Esma Cannon in one more of those unsparing chraterizations of a scared, semi-speechless domestic servant whose proper place is a home for imbeciles'.("Other People's Houses"-Ambassadors 1941) 'Poor little Ida, the faithful maid (Esma Cannon) Doesn't know where she is. She gives one of the best character studies of the evening' ("Moon Madness"-New Theatre, Hull, 1943) and 'There are later complications caused by a droll maid (played in a fresh vein by Esma Cannon)' (Colliseum Harrow-1943)the maid character wasn't restricted to Theatre productions either, Esma popped up briefly in a number of film roles, most notably as Queenie in "English Without Tears" 1944 (with a very brief scene opposite Margaret Rutherford) a more solid, if still all too brief Maid part in "Fanny By Gaslight" (Esma at one point is slapped around the face!) as a kitchen Maid she appears in an excellant scene in the 1940 film "Contraband" as Erik Skold's Niece, with amsuing German accent and nervous dispersition she trys franticly to get her uncle to the phone, and the best by far film Maid role was in "Don't Take It To Heart" she eventually broke away from the Maid mold as she matured in years and became instead a dotty old lady.

It was always refreshing to see Esma Cannon in bigger and better parts, and none was more gripping than her portrayal as the abused mute, Lindy Wicks in the 1947 film Jassy. a review from the 2nd December edition of the Glouster Echo summed up her part perfectly,Among a number of flawless supporting parts, attention is riveted on Esma Cannon as the poor dumb handmaid whose actions determine the ultimate fate of Jassy.The film was shot in colour and Esma's performance is still riverting to this day. For good measure she also appeared in the Huggetts films, the best being in the first film "Holiday Camp" as the doomed Elsie Dawson, a young girl desperate to find love, her character and the way she portrays her is heartbreaking and funny at the same time giving the film its strongest scenes. She ended the 1940s with some sterling work behind her.

Esma as Elsie Dawson in a publicity still for the 1948 film Holiday Camp

Esma was still busy on the stage as well, most notably in "Waggonload O'Monkeys" (Savoy, 1955 - see pictures below) where it was noted in the Stage newspaper "A special word should go to Esma Cannon for her amusing picture of a tiny spinster with a passion for turf" and in , 'Husbands Dont Count' (Olympia 1952) they wrote "Esma Cannon gives a delicious cameo as the judge’s somewhat eccentric mother-in-law", her appearance in the play "Summertime"(1955, Apollo) also got the critics attenion "There is a brilliant little study of elderly fatuousness by Esma Cannon as Alberto’s Aunt" and her appearance in the "Mortimer Touch" (Duke Of York's 1952) was strictly noted as " Esma Cannon is the earnest little Nationalist who loses her kilt." and make what you will out of the next comment for "The Importance of Being Earnest"(Tour 1957) 'There are pleasant performances from Esma Cannon as Miss Prism' one is left to wonder how her portrayl of Miss Prism matched the Margaret Rutherford version? (who in this case was critisized for her part as Lady Bracknell!)

By the time the Fifties had arrived Esma Cannon had religated herself from young dizzy Maid to sweet little old lady, notable bit film parts include "Jack The Ripper" as the drunken prostitute Nelly, a very nervous doctors patient in "The Steel Key" (Billed as Esme Cannon) and the Dreamy biddy listening to Norman Wisdom sing in "Trouble in Store" But for my money Esma played one of her finest and best remembered roles in "Sailor Beware" as Edie Hornett, hen pecked sister-in-law to the dominating Emma Hornett (played to perfection by Peggy Mount), tiny Esma (she was 4ft 9in, and weighing six stone ) gave Miss Mount a run for her money in this classic British comedy. one last brief film appearance came her way as maid Spencer (playing yet again opposite Margaret Rutherford) in the British comedy "I'm Alright Jack" before bidding farewell to the dazzling fifties.

In 1960 Esma reprised her role on stage as Edie Hornett in the sequel to Sailor beware, 'Watch It Sailor' at the Aldwych theatre, the review from the stage was staggering! The antics of Edie Hornett are varied and wonderful. This is a memorable character, memorably played by Esma Cannon. Miss Cannon not only draws every scrap of comedy from her part and the absurd fixes she is landed in, but also creates a character for which one can feel sympathy, while being amused. Miss cannon’s curtseys to the naval officer are a joy to see. Not even introduced to him by Ma, who is in one of her big rages, for once Edie takes a plunge herself, determined to pay tribute to such a handsome creature.

Frazer Kerr was also in the play and it seems must have been on friendly terms with Esma as she bequethed him in her will! Esma's last stage performances were in the same year she left the business, ironically it was based on the TV show that made her most famous of all "The Rag Trade", surprisingly Esma did not reprise her role after appearing in the first two series, she was noticiablly missing from the third and final season, allegedly to do with the fact she was appearing in the stage play at the time, alongside Esma in this production was another favourite actress of mine Claire Davenport.

Although Esma died in 1972, her career in the The 1960s ended in 1963, witihn a very short space of time however she managed to pack in a staggering amount of work, ironically it's her final film and tv work that she will be mostly remembered for today. due in part to the major success of the Carry On films over the years (she appeared in four, Regardless, Constable, Crusing & Cabby) and her appearances as Lilly in the BBC comedy "The Rag Trade" outside these sensations she also appeared on film as Irene Handl's dumb soap eating sidekick in "Inn For Trouble"a chinese countess in "We Joined The Navy" (in glourious colour)on television she appeared in an episode of "Maigret", and "Stryker Of The Yard" as well as an outstanding performance in "Dr Finley's Casebook" which was to be her swan song as an actress. 

It is not clear why she stopped working at this point in her career, but after 1963 Esma Cannon never again appeared as an actress in film, Tv, Radio or Theatre. Why she ceased working at such a succesful period in her life is still a mystery, she certainly seemed over whelmed by her success in the Rag Trade as the short article in the Radio Times in 1961 points out, Miss Cannon one of the West end's favourite comedy actresses, has been touched by the many charming letters viewrs have sent her since The Rag Trade began. 'Nothing like it has happened to me in all my stage career, she said. How I wish I could take home one of those marvellous sewing machines, then I could make my own dresses instead of haunting the children's departments in the shops, you see my size is age eleven.' 

another rare interview she gave was for the Australian Woman's Weekly in 1963, part of which I have transcribe here, The only resemblance between Lily and Esma Cannon off stage is that Miss Cannon is short-4ft.9 1/2in. She's most commonly found not up a lamp-posts as one would imagine but calmly working on tapestry in her lovely home on the outskirts of London or busilly pulling out weeds in the garden with the help of her husband, German-born Ernst Littman, and their teenage son. One of England's leading character actresses and comediennes, Miss Cannon was playing in the West End succes "Watch It Sailor" when she first began in "The Rag Trade" series. "I've been acting since I was a little girl of four in australia," said Sydney-born Miss Cannon without the slightest trace of an Australian accent. She's been living in England since before the war, when she came over with her Mother on what was supposed to be a working holiday. "As more and more work was offered to me, I found it harder and harder to return," she said. "But I long for the day when I can take my husband and son to see my home." ..... 

Her last comments are rather telling I'm usually given the comedy role, I don't think i'm exactly the femme fatale type!" she went on speaking about comedy "It's always very difficult to act seriuosly when you've been typed as a comedienne. peoplel just are not prepared to take you seriously and laugh at whatever you make. People come up to me in the street, saying you're Lily, and roar laughing "They can't believe it's the same person off the TV as on, and laugh when they look at me" Though she's a sewing machine operator in the rag Trade Miss Cannon sews all her own clothes by hand "I own a sewing-machine she said, "but I prefer to sew all my own clothes by needle and thread"

It could have been health reasons that made her stop working, or maybe she just wanted to spend time with her family after all she had been in showbuisness for almost 65 years, hopefully one day we will find out the answer. 

When Esma Cannon died in 1972, it appears none of her fellow actors knew, until a year or so later, over the years there has been remarkable interest in Esma, due mostly for her appearances in the mega cult that has become Carry On, when the BBC made a programme about Hattie Jacques in 2011 simply titled Hattie, Marcia Warren was cast as Esma Cannon and on Ebay in 2013 a signed photograh of Esma went for £300! it is hoped that in the not too distant future a documentary on Esma Cannon will be made. 

***Please note this page is not complete, I will add and update information when time allows me to do so***

If you have any additional information or comments you would like to share then please contact me here:

Cheers, Aaron (Site owner)

001 Man Behind The Mask-1936 as Emily the waitress

002 Ladies In Love-1937

003 The Last Adventurers-1937 as Polly Shepherd

004 The Five Pound Man-1937 as Lucy

005 Cotton Queen-1937 as Switchboard Operator

006 I See Ice-1938 as Bride

007 It's in the Air-1938 as Sir Philip's Maid.

008 The Spy in Black-1939 as Maggie

009 Trouble Brewing-1939 as Maid

010 I Met a Murderer-1939 as Blond Camper

011 Nursemaid Who Disappeared-1939 as Mary, a nursemaid

012 The Briggs Family-1940

013 Contraband-1940 as Erik Skold's niece

014 Poison Pen-1940 AS Mrs Warren

015 Quiet Wedding -1941

016 The Young Mr. Pitt-1942 as Lord Auckland's servant

017 Asking for Trouble-1942 as Ada

018 The Way Ahead-1944 as Mrs. Ted Brewer

019 English Without Tears-1944 as Queenie

020 Don't Take It to Heart-1944 as Maid

021 A Canterbury Tale-1944 as Agnes

022 It's in the Bag-1944

023 Fanny by Gaslight-1944 as Maid

024 The Years Between-1946 as Effie

025 Jassy-1947 as Lindy Wicks

026 Holiday Camp-1948 as Elsie Dawson

027 Here Come the Huggetts-1948 as Youth Leader

028 Vote for Huggett-1949

029 Fools Rush In-1949 as Mrs. Atkins

030 The Huggetts Abroad-1949 as Miss Hawker, Brown Owl

031 Helter Skelter-1949 as Autograph Huntress

032 Marry Me-1949

033 Guilt Is My Shadow-1950 as Peggy the barmaid

034 Double Confession-1950 as Madame Cleo

035 Last Holiday-1950 as Miss Fox

036 Crow Hollow-1952 as Aunt Judith

037 Noose for a Lady-1953

038 Trouble in Store-1953 as Customer In Park Cafe

039 The Steel Key-1953 as doctor's patient

040 The Sleeping Tiger-1954 as Scrubwoman with ladder(Non Speaking)

041 Simon and Laura-1955 as Laura from Newcastle

042 Out of the Clouds-1955 as Rich Passenger's Companion

043 Sailor Beware-1956 as Edie Hornett

044 A Touch of the Sun-1956 as Miss Tickle

045 Three Men in a Boat-1956 as Meek Woman (Maze)

046 Further Up the Creek-1958 as Maudie

047 Jack the Ripper-1959 as Nelly

048 The Flesh and the Fiends-1959 as Aggie

049 I'm All Right Jack-1959 as Spencer

050 No Kidding-1960 as District Nurse

051  Inn for Trouble-1960 as Dolly

052 Carry On, Constable-1960 as Deaf Old Lady

053 Expresso Bongo-1960 as Nightclub Cleaner

054 Doctor in Love-1960 as Pink Bunny Lady

055 In the Doghouse-1961 as Mrs. Raikes

056 Raising the Wind-1961 asMrs. Deevens

057 Over the Odds-1961 as Alice

058 Carry On Regardless-1961 as Miss Cooling

059 We Joined the Navy-1962 as Consul's Wife

060 On the Beat-1962 as Mrs. Stammers

061 Carry On Cruising-1962 as Bridget Madderley

062 What a Carve Up!-1962 as Aunt Emily

063 The Fast Lady-1962 as Lady on Zebra Crossing

064 Carry On Cabby-1963 as Flo 

065 Nurse on Wheels-1963 as Mrs Jones

066 Hide and Seek-1963 as Tea Lady

067 The Leather Boys-1963 (Cut?) Unconfirmed

001 Tavern In The Town 15.02.37 extracts recorded live, cast included Margaret Rutherford & Esma Cannon

002 Runaway Love 12.12.39 extracts recorded live,

003 London Column 01/11/43 Scene from A Canterbury Tale

004 The Archers?

001 Love from a Stranger-23.11.38 as Ethel, the maid

002 Rotten Row---

003 The Nightwatchman Stories---

004 John Of The Fair-09.08.51 as Sarah Wilmot

005 Constable's Move-04.02.59 as Mrs Grummit

006 The Rag Trade:The Baby-06.10.61Lily

007 The Rag Trade: Getting Married-13.10.61 as Lily

008 The Rag Trade: Early Staff-20.10.61 as Lily

009 The Rag Trade: The French Fashions-27.10.61 as Lily

010 The Rag Trade: The Sample-03.11.61 as Lily

011 The Rag Trade: Unhappy Customer-10.11.61 as Lily

012 The Rag Trade-17.11.61 as  Lily

013 The Rag Trade: Doctor's Orders-24.11.61 as Lily

014 The Rag Trade: The Italian Designer-01.12.61 as Lily

015 The Rag Trade: The Gollywogs-08.12.61 as Lily

016 Maigret: A Crime for Christmas-26.12.61 as Mlle Doncoeur

017 Stryker of the Yard: The Case of Soho Red-04.01.62 as Miss Drysdale

018 The Rag Trade:S2 EP1 06.04.62 as Lily

019 The Rag Trade:S2 EP2 13.04.62 as Lily

020 The Rag Trade:S2 EP3 20.04.62 as Lily

021 The Rag Trade:S2 EP4 27.04.62 as Lily

022 The Rag Trade:S2 EP5 04.05.62 as Lily

023 The Rag Trade:S2 EP6 11.05.62 as Lily

024 The Rag Trade:S2 EP7: The Stay In Strike18.05.62 as Lily

025 The Rag Trade:S2 EP8 25.05.62 as Lily

026 The Rag Trade:S2 EP9 01.06.62 as Lily

027 The Rag Trade:S2 EP10 08.06.62 as Lily

028 The Rag Trade:S2 EP11 15.06.62 as Lily

029 The Rag Trade:S2 E1P2 22.06.62 as Lily

030 The Rag Trade:S2 EP13 29.06.62 as Lily

031 Christmas Night With The Star: The Rag Trade-25.12.62 as Lily

032 Doctor Finlay's Casebook: Clean Sweep-12.09.63 as Harriet Matlock

001 Madame Butterfly Australia 1909  (aged 4)

002 Seven Little Australians Palace Theatre, Australia 1914-1915-

003 Daddy Long Legs Australia 1918-

004 Eyes Of Youth Australia 1918-

005 Misadventure England Oc1 930-

006 The Luck Of The Navy-Prince's Theatre, Bradford, Sept 1930

006 The Luck Of The Navy-His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen, Oct 1930

006 The Luck Of The Navy-Lyceum, Edinburgh,Oct 1930

007 Brewster's Millions-Royal Artillery Theatre Woolwich 21/09/31-26/09/31 Miss Boynton  (A Typist)-as Esme Cannon

007 Brewster's Millions-His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen Oct 1930

008 Children In Uniform-Theatre Royal, Brighton21/08/33-26/08/33 Anna

008 Children In Uniform-Victoria Palace 1933 Business Manager

009 The Wind and The Rain-Brighton Royal Feb 1934 Stage Manager

010 Take Heed (Achtung!) -Arts Theatre18/11/34- 25/11/34 (stage manager)

011 Ladies In Love-?Oc 1934

012 All Rights Reserved-Kings Theatre, Hammersmith25/02/35 Maid

012 All Rights Reserved-Criterion Theatre (86 Perf) 

review-The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 01 May 1935, forgetnot the country maid, Miss Esme Cannon, whose wide eyes and simpering innocence brought the house down every time30/04/35 - 13/07/35

013 Sweet Aloes-King'sTheatre, Portsmouth Aug 1935

013 Sweet Aloes-King's Opera House, Blackpool Nov 1935

014 The Old Maid-King's Theatre, Glasgowposs March 1936? Starred Lillian Gish

014 The Old Maid-Opera House, Manchester

014 The Old Maid-Theatre Royal, Birmingham

015 Love From A Stranger-Wyndhams Theatre 02/02/36 as Ethel

A review in the yorkshire Evening Post - Saturday 09 January 1937 has the following quote,I should have liked to see Esme Cannon repeat in the film her delicious stage characterisation of a half-daft and very inquisitive country maid. (the film part went to Joan Hickson, although Esma did appear in a BBC tv play version in 1938)

015 Love From A Stranger-New Theatre, st Martin's Lane, London-

review, The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 01 April 1936-From the remainder of a competent cast I choose Miss Esma Cannon for her quant study of a diminuitive servant-maid31/03/36 - 09/05/36

015 Love From A Stranger-Queens Theatre (149perf)11/05/36 - 08/08/36

015 Love From A Stranger-Golders Green Hippodrome17th Aug 1936

015 Love From A Stranger-King's Theatre, Hammersmith24th Aug 1936

016 Jack and Jill-Wimbledon TheatreDec 1936 Mistress Mary

017 Tavern In The Town-Embassy TheatreFeb 1937 Maidie

018 Miserable Sinners-Ambassadores (1 perf)24/04/37 Norah

019 Guests At Lancaster Gate-Q TheatreMay 1937 Lily Carter

020 Bonnet Over The Windmill-New Theatre (101 perf)08/09/37- 04/12/37(Stage manager) James Mason

021 Flying Band-Arts Theatre (2 perf)21/11/37 - 22/11/37 Elsa Potts James Mason

022 Gaily We Set Out-Kings Theatre, Hammersmith31/01/38- Vi'let

023 Society Blues-Q TheatreOct 1938Doris Higgins

024 Ma's Bit Of Brass-Q Theatre, -–31/10/38- Grocers Girl

The stage review- The remainder of the capable company must be mentioned, Esma Cannon who gives a capital impersonation of a grocer’s half-witted errand girl: Drusilla Wills, and Sydney benson as relatives, and Kenneth Connor as Joe

025 Worth A Million-Saville Theatre (43 perf)02/02/39 - 11/03/39 Ethel

026 Runaway Love-Prince's Theatre, BristolMar 1939

026 Runaway Love-King's, Southend31/07/39

026 Runaway Love-Golders Green HippodromeAug 1939 Elizabeth

026 Runaway Love-Saville TheatreNov 1939

027 He Didn't Want To Do It-Royal Birmingham14/04/41Prince's Theatre, Bradford-Apr 1941 Maid

The Stage Review-Esma Cannon is acceptable as the maid

027 He Didn't Want To Do It-New Theatre, HullMay 1941

027 He Didn't Want To Do It-Alhambra, GlasgowMay 1941

028 Actress's Will Happen (New title for Didn't Want to Do It)-Apollo Theatre02/06/41-Frances

029 Other Peoples Houses-Ambassadores (172 perf)-30/10/41 -14/03/42Diana Jones(Maid)

REVIEW-The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 05 November 1941-Miss Marie Lohr, as the harassed head of a rural house hold heavily beset with difficulties, leads a first-rate castwith her are Miss Phyllis Dare,Mr.Henry Edwards and Miss Esme Cannon, the last riotously funny as a perpetually terrified housemaid

029 Other Peoples Houses-Phoenix Theatre19/03/42 - 09/05/42

029 Other Peoples Houses-Whitehall (131 perf)11/05/42 - 27/06/42

029 Other Peoples Houses-Findsbury Park Empire-Aug 1942

Stage Review- Esma Cannon makes the most of her chances in the part of Diana Jones

030 Green Room Rags-These Mortals-Princes Theatre, Shaftsbury Ave, London31/10/42-01/11/42 Queen Victoria

031 Moon Madness-Colliseum, Harrow-Feb 1943Ida (A Maid)

The Stage Review- There are later complications caused by a droll maid (played in a fresh vein by Esma Cannon)

031 Moon Madness-Grand Theatre & Opera House, Croyden22nd Feb 1943 (1w)

031 Moon Madness-Provincial & ENSA ToursOct 1943

032 See How They Run-Comedy Theatre (588 perf )04/01/45 - 18/05/46 as Ida +  Joan Hickson & Gabriell Daye also played part

032 See How They Run-Q Theatre, LondonMar 1947

033 Wagonload O'Monkeys-LyceumTheatre, Sheffield*23/04/51- Miss Cowshott

033 Wagonload O'Monkeys-Kings Theatre, Southsea14/05/51-

033 Wagonload O'Monkeys-Golders Green Hippodrome11/06/51-16/06/51

033 Wagonload O'Monkeys-Savoy (54 perf)*_9/10/50 - 24/11/51

The Stage Review - a special word should go to esma Cannon for her amusing picture of a tiny spinster with a passion for turf

034 The Merchant Of Yonkers-Embassy Theatre, London-26/12/51

035 The Mortimer Touch-Opera House, Manchester-07/04/52 - 12/04/52Julia Sobleski-Smith

The Stage Review- Esma Cann, John Garley and George Relph also shine as three of the victims

035 The Mortimer Touch-Duke Of Yorks (45 perf) - 30/04/52 - 07/06/52

The Stage Review-Esma Cannon is the earnest little Nationalist who loses her kilt.

036 Husbands Don't Count-Lyceum, Edinburgh-1/08/52-

The Stage Review- as madame dubonnet (STAGE 140852) Charles Hawtrey is outstanding as the judges head clerk, and Elwyn Brook-Jones provides some fun as the professor. Esma Cannon gives a delicious cameo as the judge’s somewhat eccentric mother-in-law

036 Husbands Don't Count-Embassy, PeterboroughSept 1952

037 Simon and Laura-Opera House, Manchester30/08/54 - 04/09/54 Jessie

037 Simon and Laura-Theatre Royal, Brighton11/10/54 - 16/10/54

037 Simon and Laura-New Theatre, Oxford25/10/54 - 30/10/54

037 Simon and Laura-The Streatham Hill Theatre08/11/54-20/11/54

037 Simon and Laura-Strand Theatre25/11/54 - 12/02/55

037 Simon and Laura-Apollo Theatre(210 perf)14/02/55 - 28/05/55

038 Summertime-Streatham Hill Theatre27/02/55 - 05/03/55 Aunt Ofelia

038 Summertime-Opera House Manchester24/10/55 - 29/10/55

038 Summertime-Apollo (119 perf)-09/11/55 - 18/02/56

The Stage Review There is a brilliant little study of elderly fatuousness by Esma Cannon as Alberto’s Aunt

038 Summertime-King's Theatre, Glasgow-Oct 1955

The Stage Review Esma Cannon and Michael Gywnn give convincing portrayals as Aunt Ofelia and the Doctor.

038 Summertime-Lyceum, EdinburghOct 1955 

038 Summertime-Prince Of Wales, CardiffOct 1955 

039 The Importance Of Being Ernest-Olympia, Dublin-May 1957 Miss Prism

The Stage Review - There are pleasant performances from Esma Cannon as Miss Prism and Edgar K Bruce as Canon Chasuble

039 The Importance Of Being Ernest-Lyceum, EdinburghMay 1957

039 The Importance Of Being Ernest-Grand Theatre, LeedsJune 1957

039 The Importance Of Being Ernest-Royal Court, LiverpoolJune 1957

039 The Importance Of Being Ernest-Devonshire Park, EastbourneJune 1957

040 Watch It Sailor-Aldwych Theatre*-24/02/60- Aunt Edie

The Stage Review - The antics of Edie Hornett are varied and wonderful. This is a memorable character, memorably played by Esma Cannon. Miss Cannon not only draws every scrap of comedy from her part and the absurd fixes she is landed in, but also creates a character for which one can feel sympathy, while being amused. Miss cannon’s curtseys to the naval officer are a joy to see. Not even introduced to him by Ma, who is in one of her big rages, for once edie takes a plunge herself, determined to pay tribute to such a handsome creature.

040 Watch It Sailor-Royal, Brighton Feb 1960

041 The Rag Trade-Piccadilly Theatre *09/12/62-1963 aS Lily

Autumn 1939, JAN 1944, JAN 1945-SPOTLIGHT ADVERTS

RADIO TIMES:The Rag Trade-

The Stage:Heydays


NB: Film & TV Titles in red I have seen, and red Theatre indicates I have the programme

Extra special thanks to:
Simon Moss at for the Theatre programmes.
Marg Dale for her help in tracking down Esma's birth certificate in Australia.
Janice Healey for Esma's last Will and testament
Karl Roberts for additonal research and enthusiasm!
Isabelle Courtin for Esma's Death Certificate, Gravestone photograph and ongoing support.

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