If you are old enough to remember the wonderful 1960 television production of Peter Pan with Mary Martin as Peter and the fabulous Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook, you have probably remembered Cyril with great fondness. Or perhaps you have been lucky enough to see the show some time over the years. Cyril stole the show as the rather hapless leader of the dumbest bunch of pirates ever gathered. He was flamboyant, funny as hell, and made his mark on my whole generation. I ran across this picture of his wedding to his wife Madge in 1935. I just had to share it. Is Madge's dress magnificent or what? And Cyril is the epitome of the dapper English gentleman. The picture is a little bit fuzzy, but I just had to make it big enough to really showcase its beauty.
Cyril was an immensely popular and prolific stage star of musical comedies. Because of the TV production of Peter Pan, the whole country was able to experience his charisma and great talent. He was also the good friend of another figure who made his mark on my childhood, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. Many may remember Bishop Sheen's popular TV show, which was top in the ratings for many years. When Cyril died December 18, 1977 at age 80, Bishop Sheen celebrated his funeral Mass.
If you haven't seen him perform, I found one of his funniest numbers in Peter Pan to post here. Whenever Captain Hook needed to think, he called his pirate band to inspire him with music. They would ask: "What tempo, Captain?" He would reply: "Tempo, Tempo, Tempo!" and decide. This one is his ultimate, the hilarious waltz. I hope it makes you laugh as much as I do, no matter how many times I see it. My favorite line is Hook's angry response to disrespect: "NO! BI-CARBONATE OF SODA, NO!"
Cyril Ritchard -- nobody could top him as Captain Hook!