but his name is really Smith
There are several theories about that change of name, one being that it arose out of a clerical error, when he did his National Service with the R.A.F.
The truth (disappointing as it may be) is, however, that it was his own idea!
Jim made up his mind, early in life, that Show Business was for him, and decided that Smith wasn’t the right name for the game … Jim DALE was more rhythmic.
His association with Stanley Dale was not entirely accidental. Just something Jim Dale worked out at one point of his career, and which proved highly profitable.
Although he has been called the ‘Jeanagers’ Joy,’ Jim and his guitar did not soar to the heights after being discovered in a coffee bar.
He made his way into a Carroll Levis show, with the idea of putting over a pop number — but he was so terrified when it came to his turn that he tripped over a mike cable as the roll of drums greeted his arrival on stage.
The whole five-feet-ten of him slid across the boards in a horizontal position. The audience thought it was part of the act, and gave him roars of applause.
‘They evidently thought I was doing a Norman Wisdom fall…’
He laughs about it all now, but admits that the incident made him think again about his career, and he worked his way around the theatres as a comic before it was discovered he had a useful singing voice.
One of the liveliest personalities on the television screen, there is a serious streak in him that makes him consider the future … when rock & roll, skiffle, and other topical gimmicks could lose their attraction.
Hence his decision to get around in ‘live’ shows, and study what he can in theatres.
As a National Serviceman he did his quota of square-bashing, peeling spuds, and, of course, every chore in the training line, including night-flying.
Unlike many professionals who get whipped into the station entertainment group while in the Forces, this was one place where he never appeared.
‘I don’t regret it … I was happy enough … and it takes all sorts to make a world,’ is his philosophical comment on that period of his life.
The minute he was released from the R.A.F., however, he headed in the direction of Stanley Dale, an agent with a good reputation. The Dale office also looks after the affairs of Frankie Howerd and Tony Hancock, and young Jim figured that what was good for them could be good for him!
Stanley Dale steered him into television, getting him an audition with Brian Michie. This resulted in his first contact with the TV cameras.
For the benefit of ‘fans,’ he is married, with one child, who arrived when he was about halfway through the National Skiffle Contest, in the early part of 1958.