Havers and Lee (Clay Keyes standing)

KEYES, Clay  [Henry James NEWBOLD]   [1892-1970]

Henry James Newbold was born in Liverpool on the 9th December 1892. Both his father and grandfather worked as music hall comedians and acrobats, both using the stage name Henri Balleni. In 1873 his grandfather crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope, jumping into the river with his fall broken by a rubber cord. With such a background it was inevitable that her too would look to show business as his career.

Newbold took the stage name Clay Keyes and performed alongside his wife Gladys as a comedian and dancer. Then, in the mid-1920’s, he formed a double act with comedian Frank Tully (real name Frank Mendoza Jnr.), calling themselves Haver and Lee. Keyes played Haver, the straight man with an American accent, while Tully took the part of Lee, interrupting his partner nonsensical comments and wisecracks.

The duo enjoyed considerable success throughout the 1930s and early 1940s. They broadcast on BBC radio from 1931, billed as “The Fun Racketeers”, appearing also on the popular Henry Hall’s Guest Night. From 1940 they played the roles of Duckweed and Eggblow, incompetent handymen in a hotel in the radio series Danger – Men at Work ! Their final radio appearance together was in 1944 in the show Happidrome.

They also appeared in a number of films, one of which Mother Don’t Rush Me (1936) starred another Liverpudlian comic, Robb Wilton.

Together with his wife Keyes also enjoyed success as a writer. They wrote a radio show entitled Charing Cross Road , described as a “play with music about the lives of theatrical professionals in London”. The original version starred a very young Charles Hawtrey, and when it was filmed in 1936 John Mills was the leading man.

Clay Keyes continued to work as an entertainer and broadcaster after the war. His final radio appearances were in the mid 1950s as the host of Midday Music Hall. He died in Saltdean, Sussex in 1970 aged 77. His wife Gladys (née Massey) died in 1974.

At the time of his birth the family home was at 44 Crown Street L7, later moving to 16 Beaumont Street L8. Both houses have been demolished.

A newspaper photo from 1942 at the |Liverpool Empire - his wife Gladys is wrongly identified as his sister.


The only substantial source I have found is the Wikipedia entry for Havers and Lee. There are various clips of the duo performing on YouTube and several on a blog site entitled thirdbanana.