Lives Remembered

Lives Remembered: Comedienne Marjorie Rea was mainstay of cabaret scene

Comedienne Marjorie Thompson was better known by her stage name Marjorie Rea 

COMEDIENNE Marjorie Thompson was a mainstay of the north's vibrant cabaret scene.

Better known by the stage name Marjorie Rea, she was a favourite face at venues like the Trocadero, Abercorn, Club Orchid and Picadilly Line from the 1950s through to the '90s.

Her skilful wordplay, self-deprecating stories and comic songs - The One-legged Family and Rindercella were standards - are fondly remembered by generations of audiences.

Even a few weeks before her death aged 94 she was still singing and entertaining residents of her nursing home in Belfast.

Marjorie was born into showbiz, going on the road from an early age with her father Tom Reynolds - a comedian known as Rattling Tom - and brothers Tom Raymond and George.

From north Belfast, she left Mountcollyer Secondary School at 16 and worked for a short time in Gallahers Tobacco Factory in York Street.

She was a member of a singing group for a time but soon branched out on her own at vaudeville shows and concert parties.

She sometimes found herself booked at three different venues on the same night and toured across Northern Ireland and over the border.

Her last major appearance was at the Waterfront Hall in 2000 where she was presented with a cut glass bowl paying tribute to her long service the esteem she was held in by her peers.

Joe Cauley, a fellow comedian on the cabaret scene who became a good friend, said she was "motherly figure".

"She was the mother of the entertainers and a lovely, warm caring person," he said.

"You'd never heard her say a bad word about anyone - she saw the good in everybody and performed a lot of charity work."

Those to benefit from her fundraising work included the Martin Residential Trust which cares for disabled children. Her own disabled daughter, also Marjorie, died in 1994.

Marjorie Thompson died in the Ulster Hospital on December 1, a few days short of her 95th birthday.

She was predeceased by her husband of 54 years, John Thompson, in 2006.

Lives Remembered