Clown, Badminton Act
By Dominique Jando
Although he is well remembered in Europe and the United States as a clown playing badminton, Hugh Forgie (1912-1993) was actually a genuine badminton champion, who held the World title from 1941 through 1952. He was born in Brantford, Ontario (Canada) in 1912, and moved to New York in the early 1930s. By then, the sport of badminton, invented in the mid-eighteenth century by British officers stationed in India, became officially organized with the creation of the International Badminton Federation in 1934—which was the result of a sudden craze for the game.
Hugh Forgie took to the new sport, for which he showed a natural ability. He became a professional player in 1935, and went on to compete nationally and internationally. At the same time, he became a badminton instructor at the New York Athletic Club. In 1938, he gave an exhibition at the Roxy, the famous movie-palace in Manhattan, with the British trickAny specific exercise in a circus act.-shot artist Ken Davidson; their display was so spectacular that they were immediately signed for a tour in the United Kingdom, whose highlight was a Royal Command Performance for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
Hugh’s sport career eventually came to an end when the badminton fad died away after World War II, and he decided to reconvert into show business. He created a comedy act that made good use of his exceptional talents as badminton player, and would made him known around the world. He first became associated with the Harlem Globe Trotters, where his act was a popular halftime attraction(Russian) A circus act that can occupy up to the entire second half of a circus performance. for several years.
Hugh Forgie and Shirley Marie
Then, with a new partner by the name of Stig Larson, he put his act on ice, and toured extensively with the famous ice revue Ice Capades, in which he performed his badminton antics on skates. In 1959, he teamed up with Shirley Marie Mans, a badminton instructor at Wellesley College, in Massachusetts, and his act took its final shape. They became a top attraction(Russian) A circus act that can occupy up to the entire second half of a circus performance. in Europe, where he played the Moulin Rouge and Cirque Medrano in Paris and Circus Knie in Switzerland, among many other venues, and toured with the ice show Holiday On Ice.
Hugh Forgie and Shirley Marie, as the act was known, appeared in many television shows in the U.S. and Europe, including five times on the Ed Sullivan Show. Hugh retired from performing in 1985, at age seventy-three, and settled in Boynton Beach, Florida. (Shirley Marie also retired in Boynton Beach.) He passed away on August 5, 1993, shortly after celebrating his eighty-first birthday. Hugh Forgie was survived by his wife, Janet; two sons, Reginald and Geoff; a daughter, Derri Haus; and five grandchildren.
- Video: Hugh Forgie and Shirley Marie, badminton act, in the TV show Hippodrome (1966)