"Tom wasn't at his best on TV. You had to see Tom on the stage because then he was really good.
He could grab an audience like no one. He was too big for TV." Eric Sykes
Here is a rundown of most of his theatre appearances over the years
Late 1947: Tommy gets his big break with Miff Ferrie, a trombonist in a band
called 'The Jackdaws'. Miff booked him to appear as the second spot comedian
in a show starring 'Marqueeze and the Dance of the Seven Veils' - a
sand-dancing outfit of that time. As soon as Ferrie took charge of his career,
Cooper began a two-year period of hard toil, a period that included a tour of
Europe and a stint in panto, where he played one of the ugly sisters in Cinderella.
This culminated in a season long booking at the Windmill theatre. Here Tommy
doubled up doing cabarets and one week he did 52 shows. An astonishing
amount of work for anyone.
1948-1951: During these years he played every first-class London nightclub - and
every time the bookings were extended. He was so popular every club in the
capital wanted a piece of him. He played the Windermere Club in Regent Street
and was a great success. From there he then got booked at the
1951-1952: London Hippodrome in a show called Encore Des Follies - He appeared in this shows' entire two year run. 1952 July: Makes his debut at the London Palladium. After that his first tour for the Moss Empire circuit, appearing in the Rockin in Rhythm show on the undercard to Winifred Atwell. Later at Newcastle he topped the bill himself. 1953: He was in a revue called The Peep Show Revue Tour. In this he was allowed to be both comic and magician. Taking in many auditoriums, including the Brighton Hippodrome and the Derby Hippodrome. After this he again appeared at the London Palladium for the coronation season.
Returns to the UK. Plays the King in Humpty Dumpty at the Dudley Hippodrome. Then onto the Garrick Theatre, Stockport for a spate of shows.
1955 April: Appears at The Prince of Wales Theatre, in Piccadilly Circus, co-starring with Benny Hill in
1956: He was second on the billing, behind Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warris, for the birthday season at The
Coventry Theatre. Early 1957 he played the King in Puss in Boots at the Manchester Hippodrome.
1957: Went back to what he does best. He did the summer season at the North Pier Pavillion in Blackpool, appearing alongside Ruby Murray. Then he came back to London to star with one of his heroes, Arthur Askey, in Robinson Crusoe. 1959-1962: A very busy time for Tommy. He did The Hippodrome in Brighton, Sunday Night at the Palladium (TV), The Billy Cotton Band Show (TV), He appeared at the Prince of Wales theatre in Blue Magic, alongside Shirley Bassey. Then Christmas season at the Manchester Opera House, the spring season at the Coventry Theatre, the summer season at the Princess Theatre, Torquay with Morecambe and Wise, the autumn season in Manchester at the Palace Theatre in a production of King Cole with Alfred Marks. Then it was panto time again, at the Alhambra in Bradford. Throughout this time he was performing even though he'd got a slipped disc! He completed a twenty-week season in Blackpool before finally getting treatment on his back. Then he flew to Aden to entertain the British Army before flying back for panto in Manchester. 1963-1965: A summer season at the Pavillion Theatre in Bournmouth with Millicent Martin & The Kaye Sisters. In November 1963 he appeared in the Timber Trades concert at the Royal Festival Hall, London. Also Sunday Night at the Palladium (TV), the London Palladium summer show, the Royal Command Performance (TV), the Dick Whittington pantomime at the Golders Green Hippodrome, cabaret at the Blackpool Queens Theatre. 1966-1969: A season at the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong, a mega-bucks location if ever there was one. When he came back to the UK he was, for the first time, top of the bill on Sunday Night at the London Palladium (TV). A summer season at Bournmouth Winter Gardens breaking all box office records into the bargain. Record breaking summer seasons at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool and at the Floral Hall, Scarborough, in his show called Cooper Live-size.
1970: London Palladium summer show in a 23 week run. Later in the year, December 17th, he starred in
his very own Christmas Party show at the Coventry Theatre.
1971: He was in the Royal Variety Performance. He also starred in To See Such Fun , at the London Palladium, this also featured Clive 'Don't Panic' Dunn. Plus everyone's favourite TV girl of the time Anita Harris and pianist Russ Conway as well as acrobatic funsters The Stupids. In the spring he was on stage in Oxford, the summer Skegness and the winter, Margate. 1973: Summer season again in Skegness at the Pier Theatre. During the rest of seventies Tommy still made
many, many more appearances. But fitting them in around his hectic TV schedule was a problem.
Nevertheless, rarely did he have any spare time to himself he was an absolute workaholic, he loved it.