Willis Toogood, female impersonator & actor featured in many Theatre Program (Jan 1945)

Willis Toogood Jan 1945

Willis Toogood was yet another female impersonator / actor who took part in quite a number of Theatre Programs.

Some of these included shows such as: ‘Music Through The Years’; ‘Swingtime’; ‘All This And Heaven Too’; ‘Hay Fever’; ‘Old King Cole’; ‘Pygmalion’; ‘Smile And Carry On’; ‘The Little Admiral’; ‘The Show Goes On’; ‘Tonight At 8.30’;  ‘Grin And Bear It’.

To view the 100 programs painted and bought back by Des Bettany, go to ‘Changi Theatre Programs’ on this website. This is where this information has been researched from.

There were a number of P.O.W’s who could look ‘the part’ and bring welcome relief to their fellow POW’s, as well as keeping their own minds occupied, some of whom were professional actors and musicians.

‘I remember visiting a friend of my parents, who was a broadcaster on forces’ radio. Willis Toogood was his name, and I remember asking my parents why Uncle Willis was so thin. Skeletal, in fact. They gently explained to me that he had been a prisoner of war in a Japanese concentration camp and still could not digest food properly – twelve years after the war had ended. From that arose my interest in the Japanese war atrocities that were committed.’

Source: http://www.archhistory.co.uk/taca/memsmisc.html

‘In the evening I went along to the concert in Changi village with Bines.  A first class show with a female impersonator of professional standard.  A piano accordion solo by Frankie, who I believe was once with Geraldo.  Plenty of topical jokes, all RAF would get a warm welcome in Australia.’

 Excerpt from George Wiseman’s diary, Changi POW.

Source: www.pows-of-japan.net/booksetc/Diaries%20Proofed%20.doc

‘The standard of the acting is really high and even the female parts are most convincing in their ‘femininity’. There is nothing amateur about these entertainments, and we have been amazed at the finish in dress and stage furnishings. Ingenuity has reached unbelievable heights. The facts are I suppose, that we have her behind the wire, men who comprise this civilian army who everyday jobs are those which are now used in the multitudinous activities that make up this prison life.’

Source: Down To Bedrock (the diary & secret notes of a Far East prisoner of war Chaplain) by Eric Cordingly, Pg 70; permission by Louis Reynolds, daughter.