British Comedian Elsie Waters Dead at 95
Jun. 15, 1990
LONDON (AP) _ Elsie Waters, who with her sister formed a wartime radio comedy duo that was regarded as a national institution, has died, The Times of London reported today. She was 95.
No cause of her death Thursday was given.
Elsie and Doris Waters, daughters of a London funeral furnisher who made coffin linings and shrouds, performed together for more than 50 years. They were favorites of Winston Churchill and had elephants named after them at the London Zoo.
The characters of Gert and Daisy, a pair of Cockney gossips, were created by accident when Elsie and Doris needed material for the flip side of a 78 rpm record. Previously considered a musical act, they wrote a comic dialogue between two women watching a posh wedding.
In 1929, the sisters went before a radio microphone. Their characters, who conveyed the feelings and frustrations of ordinary people with humor but not vulgarity, were an immediate hit on radio's Saturday Night Music Hall.
The act reached its peak of popularity during World War II, when it played an important role in sustaining national morale.
The sisters often entertained the wounded in hospitals, and made several visits to entertain forces overseas - provoking complaints that they were off the air too long.
After one of these tours, Elsie remarked to a taxi driver that she was used to going around with an armed escort.
''Blimey, what have you got to protect?'' he replied. That went straight into their next script.
The sisters never retired, and when they were well into their 70s they enjoyed a new popularity. Their final appearance came a few months before Doris died in 1978.
Elsie never married and lived with her sister for more than 30 years.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.