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  • Caricature
    Cooke, George Harold, born 1881 - died 1950
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    Hanley (made)

  • Date:

    May 1905 (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cooke, George Harold, born 1881 - died 1950 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink and wash on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This caricature is of Sam Mayo, ‘The Immobile One’, when he was performing at the Grand Theatre of Varieties, Hanley, during the week of 29 May 1905. He was billed as ‘the Original Immobile Comedian’. It is one of the many superb caricatures of Edwardian music hall performers that were drawn by the artist George Cooke when he was based at the Grand Theatre. He compiled them in a series of albums.

One of Mayo’s songs was ‘I Never Stopped Running Till I Got Home’. When he was at Hanley in May 1905 the theatre held a competition to find the person who could most accurately imitate him.

Music hall performers liked to cultivate specialities. Like his contemporary, Alf Gibson, Mayo specialised in standing still on stage, often with his hands between his knees. He also sang songs at a piano wearing an old dressing gown, a motoring cap, a yellow wig and a lugubrious expression.

Born Sam Cowan in Waterloo Road, Lambeth, London, in 1881, Mayo made his first music hall appearance at the Alhambra, Sandgate, in 1898. Later he toured in his own revues. He wrote songs for himself and others, and regularly appeared in pantomime. Mayo claimed to hold the record for the number of nightly music hall appearances, when for four weeks he was on the bill of 12 London halls every evening. In the days of horse-drawn transport, this meant rushing from hall to hall by hansom cab in time for his ‘spot’ on the next programme. He died in 1938.

Physical description

Pen, ink and wash caricature on pink paper of Sam Mayo. His face is depicted as a mask hanging on a wall, open-mouthed, in an expression of surprise. The wallpaper is blue with a diamond pattern, decorated with blue and white fleur de lys. The mask hangs from a string fixed at the top of the head to a nail in the wall.

Place of Origin

Hanley (made)


May 1905 (drawn)


Cooke, George Harold, born 1881 - died 1950 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink and wash on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Would that I had such teeth. Good luck Sam Mayo.
Signature; Hand written; Pen and ink


Height: 25 cm, Width: 16.8 cm

Object history note

This caricature is of the music hall performer Sam Mayo performing at The Grand Theatre of Varieties, Hanley, during the week of 29 May 1905. Mayo was known as 'the Immobile One' and who often wore a dressing gown in his act. The caricature comes from the second album of caricatures in a collection of albums owned by the Theatre Museum compiled by the graphic artist George Cooke. It is labelled by the artist 'Geo Cooke HYS BOOKE' and features music hall performers working in the early 20th century.

The reviewer in The Staffordshire Sentinel noted that Mayo had often appeared at the Grand and that during the week in May there would be a competition for any member of the audience who could sing his song 'I Never Stopped Running till I Got Home' in the best imitation of him. The prize was a silver cup; the semi-final was held at the first house on Friday night, with the final at the second house.

Descriptive line

Caricature of the Edwardian music hall performer Sam Mayo 'The Immobile One' (1881-1938), from an album of caricatures drawn by George Cooke. May 1905.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

'The Last Empires' by Benny Green
'Stars Who Made The Halls' by S. Theodore Felstead


Pen and ink; Watercolour


Drawn; Painted


Drawings; Caricatures & Cartoons; Entertainment & Leisure


Theatre and Performance Collection

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