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He was having a laugh
#1
The 'one hit wonder' is by no means a modern phenomenon, though undoubtedly more lucrative these days.
In the early days of movies and recorded sound,  "entertainers"  were regarded as dubious at best and criminally insane at worst.
So Charles Dunbar Cawse took the sensible way and followed in the family business of watchmaking and repairing, in Biggleswade, a small town to the north of London.  He was born there in 1873. He became skilled and renowned in the town, and one of his customers - Fanny Blows* - (honestly!) relied upon him to keep her terminally-faulty grandfather clock ticking over after a fashion.
Apart from his horology skills, Charles was known for his extraordinary way of laughing, and was soon snapped up by local concert parties, which were the normal form  of neighbourhood entertainment before the widespread prevalence of cinemas. Producers were well aware that laughter is infectious, and they cast him in a variety of comedy roles. He enjoyed being in the public eye, but continued in his day job.
But as so often, marriage - in this case his second - changed his life. Mabel Anderson was a young songwriter who encouraged Charles to develop his vocal skills and found the song for him that changed everything. She took credit for writing the song but it's now known that George W. Johnson wrote and performed the song in the USA in 1898, long before Charles recorded The Laughing Policeman in 1922.
He recorded the song under the name Charles Jolly, reflecting his exaggerated laughter, but soon took the more serious name Charles Penrose, taking his second given name as a surname.
Charles Penrose also appeared in a dozen films, often just as an incidental man laughing manically, but more seriously as Sir Franklin in The Crimes of Stephen Hawke (1932).
He also appeared in numerous stage shows and became affluent enough to reside in Kensington, London, where he died in 1952.
As for Fanny Blows' grandfather clock, it may indeed be still alive and ticking.
*Fanny Blows was a "character" in turn-of-century Biggleswade. On any excursion from her home, where she lived alone, she took a wheelbarrow. Not to carry anything, but as a portable seat whenever she felt in need of a rest. Nobody seemed able to convince her that there would be less need for it without the effort of pushing a wheelbarrow, but such is life. In addition to paying her bills to Penrose, she bequeathed him a family heirloom Toby Jug, which started a collection for which he became notable.
Now just have a laugh with him, to the original recording.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9O6pCYyelA
 
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#2
That takes me back ! Memories of Ed Stewart's sunday morning show on Radio 2. Smile
 
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