“Alone and Afraid” and “My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes”

This 1931 Pathétone film clip shows Elsie Carlisle, accompanied by Harry Rubens at the piano, singing “Alone and Afraid” and “My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes.”

“Alone and Afraid.” Music by Jack Trent, words by Stan Leigh (1931). Recorded the same year by Jerry Hoey and His Band (Joe Leigh, vocalist), Jack Payne, and Arthur Lally (Maurice Elwin and Cavan O’Connor, vocalists). This song would be part of the soundtrack of the Stanley Lupino movie “The Love Race.”

“My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes.” Music by Jack Golden, lyrics by Ted Koehler and Edward Pola (1931). Recorded the same year by Al Bowlly, Marion Harris, the Debroy Somers Band (Dan Donovan, vocalist), and Fred Spinelly’s Band.

Elsie Carlisle (1931)

Video from British Pathé (YouTube)

Elsie Carlisle in “Radio Parade” (1933)

Radio Parade (1933) is a variety film featuring such stars of the time as Clapham and Dwyer, Gert and Daisy, Reginald Gardiner, Florence Desmond, and Roy Fox, but it is most notable for showing, in reel 2,


Elsie sings such numbers as “It’s Great to Be in Love,” “He Raised His Hat,” “The Girl Next Door,” “Here Am I (Brokenhearted)” and “You’ve Got Me Crying Again,” and ends with a reprise of “It’s Great to Be in Love.” She descends stairs from a balcony wearing a fur-lined stole, engages in occasional banter with her nattily dressed band, sits on the piano and rocks back and forth fetchingly (fiddling constantly with a black silk scarf), takes off the stole, sings to a portrait (which she ultimately veils with the scarf), and ultimately returns to the balcony.

Radio Parade (1933) Reel 2 could justly be considered the Citizen Kane of Elsie Carlisle film shorts (of which there are four extant, to my knowledge). It is a precious reminder that Elsie was not just a consummately talented recording artist and radio celebrity; she was also the accomplished stage actress whom Cole Porter personally chose to sing “What Is This Thing Called Love?”1

Click (or tap) and enjoy:

Radio Parade Reel 2 (1933)

Video from British Pathé (YouTube)

UPDATE:  Peter Wallace and Charles Hippisley-Cox note that personnel are Joe Brannelly on the guitar, Don Stutely on the string bass, Max Goldberg on the trumpet, Billy Amstell and Joe Jeannette on the clarinet, and Bert Read on the piano. The latter wrote a moving tribute to Elsie shortly after her death. Christopher Stone is the announcer at the beginning of the short.


  1. Richard J. Johnson, “Elsie Carlisle (with a different style). Part Two.” Memory Lane 175 (2012): 40

"The Idol of the Radio." British dance band singer of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.