|Ted Banks is on the far right.
Ted Banks was from England. His real name was Edward William Coppin. He was a member of Fred Karno’s Army of British Music Hall Comedians. Karno was a British Theater impresario and really he was a comedian creator. In 1911, Fred Karno sent some of his players over to the United States to appear in a play called A Night In An English Music Hall. Among the ‘players’ sent over to be in this production, Charles Chaplin, Stan Laurel and Ted Banks. Charles soon struck out on his own to become famous in the flickers, or early silent movie motion pictures.
It is here, that I must clear up some mis-information. Several magical periodicals, and also newspapers have that Ted then started The Keystone Trio with Stan Laurel and another woman. That is not the case. The Keystone Trio was started by Edgar Hurley and his wife Ethel.
Edgar and his wife were also former Karno performers. Stan Laurel joined with them for a time until the group split up. Stan Laurel went off to team up with Oliver Hardy to become the famous comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy.
What happened to Ted Banks/William Coppin?. He did not go off into the movies like Chaplin and Laurel did. One reference said he went to work backstage for Thurston for a time and then eventually landed in the Blackstone show. I know he started with Blackstone in 1923. In 1927, he married a member of the cast, Della Cowell. She became known by the stage name Sally Banks, so they were Ted and Sally Banks.
There is a surprising article in Billboard Magazine April 17th, 1937. It mentions that Banks has worked for Blackstone for 14 years, but while in Wheeling WV, he left the show. He returned to Colon Mich and was set to take up work on the west coast.
|Blackstone & Banks
On Sept 11, 1937, Billboard says that Ted has joined the Percy Abbott staff in Colon. In 1937, 38, 39 and more, Ted was involved as stage manager for the Abbotts Get Together and the IBM National Convention in 1939. On Nov 22, 1941, Ted Banks returns to the Blackstone Show. Why did he leave in the first place. I believe he got diagnosed with a heart condition and life on the road became difficult. When he returned to the Blackstone show, he was given lighter duties because of his heart ailment.
On Sept 2, 1942, the Blackstone crew was in Decatur ILL to perform at the Lincoln Theater. While preparing for the show, actually during the showing of the matinee movie before the live stage show, a fire was discovered next door in the Drug Store. To learn more about the fire and the conditions you can listen to my podcast Ep 78.
The sad part of the story, Ted Banks died of a heart attack that evening after the stressful day of dealing with the fire and moving the show hurriedly out of the theater. He was only 50 years old.
|Banks and Blackstone looking at the fire.