WE'VE had an overwhelming response from Looking Back readers after featuring Matthew Solomons' request to find out more about his late mother Dora's time as Miss Weymouth in 1953.

Matthew mentioned that in the same year his mum also appeared in the Harry Lester show in Weymouth.

Well, we were thrilled to hear from Carol Barzilay, nee Lester, the daughter of entertainer Harry Lester! She was delighted to make contact with Matthew and said it brought back many happy memories for her.

Carol is now 90 and will be celebrating her 91st birthday on May 30, so many happy returns to her.

She sent in some photos of Matthew's mum Dora, who was in two acts of Harry's show, The Carolyn Cousins and The Farmer's 12 Beautiful Daughters. We also received some information informing us that sisters Chris and Dora Hawthorn hailed from London, teamed up with Harry, then joined forces with Carol McCoy to make a singing act.

Carol said: "Harry Lester was my father and I often performed with Dora and her sister Chris in the Harry Lester and his Hayseeds show.

"While I don't have any information regarding Dora's time as Miss Weymouth, I do have a lot of memories and photographs of our times together.

"The Harry Lester and his Hayseeds show did used to tour but was actually in Weymouth for the whole of the summer season in 1953."

Carol very kindly passed on this black and white photo from 1975, which is of Matthew and his mum Dora and his dad in a visit to Carol's house. Carol thinks that's Matthew on the left.

Harry Lester, who was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1895 died in Weymouth in 1993.

Lindsay, Carol's daughter, said: "My mother met my father while the show was playing in Weymouth and when they married and settled here Harry and his wife Babs did so too, spending a long and happy retirement living in Old Castle Road."

*Also, thanks to John Yallop who got in touch with an advert for Harry Lester and His Hayseeds' 1952 show.

He remembers the show well. John said: "They quite often appeared in Weymouth during the early 1950s. In fact they did the 1952 summer season at the Alexandra Gardens Theatre in a show called Holiday Hayride which featured The 12 Farmer's Daughters and Carol 'n Cousins.

"The following year they presented Holiday Hayride of 1953 at The Ritz Theatre for three weeks in September.

"This featured many of the same cast with the addition of The Bubble Foam Bathing Belles and 3-D Shadowgraph Silhouettes."

*Bob Fox got in touch to say that he remembers Harry Lester and his Hayseeds.

He said: "They were the stars of the summer show at the Alexandra Gardens Theatre in, I believe, 1951 or 1952. Harry himself fell in love with Weymouth and returned to live at Greenhill on his retirement from show business, until he died in his late nineties."

*And thanks to Richard Sams for jogging further memories for us about Harry Lester and his Hayseeds.

He wrote: "Harry Lester and his Hayseeds was a summer show based on the American Old West, the daughters being the chorus girl dancers. "There was a comic character called Goofus, while the star was a Cal McCord dressed in full cowboy outfit complete with two six guns which he fired frequently to the delight of the many kids who came to see him.

"His entrance to the Alexandra Gardens was spectacular as he arrived through side doors into the auditorium riding a large piebald Horse called Ladybird.

"He then invited some kids on stage and entertained with his lassoing skills, balloon bursting and quick draw displays while telling tales of life on the range, in an American drawl, remarkable as I think he came from London, but as a child I was in awe of a real cowboy."

Richard also wished to thank Looking Back for the interesting articles - something that wouldn't be possible without all the reader contributions, so thanks to you all.


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