How many times have I seen the act ‘Milton Woodward’s Wonder Bar with Millicent Cooper’ billed on old variety posters? It seemed to have been a very popular speciality act on the 1950s variety circuit. And how much did I know about Mr. Woodward and Miss Cooper? Very little. So I was delighted to receive a copy of a new book focusing on this couple’s career.
Born in 1900 in Eastbourne, John Milton Woodward was just 10 years of age when he was given a box of magic tricks to keep him amused whilst in bed with measles. Little did his family know that this simple gift would lead Milton on a life and career devoted to magic. Whilst a semi-professional entertainer in concert party, he met singer Millicent Cooper. Soon they were working together in a magic act where Millie, with her very noticeable purple hair, was far more than the usual female assistant, changing dresses around 18 times in as many minutes whilst helping Milton with the tricks. The couple moved to the professional variety theatre circuit in 1939 with an act that culminated in producing a spectacular display of flowers that filled the stage. In1950, Woodward introduced a new illusion, the celebrated Wonder Bar – where they supplied punters with a variety of different drinks from the same cocktail shaker. The act was a sensation and ensured that Woodward and Millicent were never short of work, usually billed as second top on variety bills.
BHMS member and magician David Budd (British Magical Society Past President and Fellow, MIMC Gold Star) was a great friend of Woodward’s and collected a great deal of information about the man and his career. He planned to produce a book about him but sadly died in March 2020 before achieving his goal.
With David’s friend Donald Bevan (British Magical Society Past President and Fellow, MIMC Gold Star) editing David’s original draft and adding additional material, the book has now been privately published by David’s daughter Janet. Handsomely produced and profusely illustrated, this book pays tribute to a notable speciality act from the golden age of variety.
GSB, editor The Call Boy, magazine of the British Music Hall Society
David Budd: Milton Woodward And Millicent Cooper: Magicians Who Changed The Face Of Magic.
Budd Enterprises, £16.00 (plus £3.95 UK p&p).
ISBN 978 13999 08825
Available from J. Budd . Tel. 07856 862977
Or direct from Donald in the BMS Clubroom (no postage!)