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Raffles, Mark, Born 1922



  • Existence: Born 22 January 1922


Mark Raffles aka Ray St. Clair, was born Albert Taylor in Manchester, England on 22 January 1922.

Mark came from a family of performers and started to get involved in show business from an early age. He showed a special interest and talent in magic and by the time he was sixteen, he was a full-fledged performer travelling the music halls of England as Ray St. Clair, The Silent Magician. He adopted the name Ray St. Clair from an ancestor.

During the Second World War Mark was assigned a post in the home front building air raid shelters and performing other air raid related services. He also worked with the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) to raise the morale of military and civilian personnel both in the UK and Europe. In ENSA Mark developed his famous pickpocket act, which he performed by standing in the foyer among members of the audience before the show and later producing stolen items on stage. In 1945, Mark was awarded a Veteran’s Badge by the Minister of Defence for his wartime services.

After the war Mark started to travel the British music hall scene once again and became increasingly famous. His popularity gained him regular TV appearances expanding the three decades between the 1960s and 1980s in shows and game shows such as 3-2-1.

Mark married Joan (1925-2009) and had three children Jacky, Wendy and Timothy, who followed their parents footstep into variety performance forming the vocal act Golden Brandy. Mark met Joan while on stage at the Theatre Royal, Bristol and soon became Mark’s on stage assistant in 1948. They had a whirlwind romance that culminated in their marriage six months later. The couple formed Mark Raffles and Joan, an act they travelled for many years. They also presented ‘The Wynchwoods’, an act involving toy poodles, which was first presented by their friends Jack and Audrey Shaw. Mark and Joan made this act very successful and appeared in TV, pantomime and variety theatres for over a decade during the 1980s.

When Mark and Joan had their first child, Jaqui, they continued touring, taking Jaqui with them, however when the second child arrived, Joan left the act, devoting herself to the business side of Mark's work. She and her husband also dealt in property, and at one stage Joan ran a guest house.

In 1997 Mark celebrated sixty years in show business by producing a book called Diamond Jubilee Memoirs.

Mark enjoyed a long and fruitful performing career which expended 81 years. During his lifetime he received many awards and honours including, membership of the Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star, President and Honorary Life Vice-President of the Blackpool Magicians Club, The Magic Circle Carlton Comedy Award, Winner of the First Grand Prix Champion of Magic, The Murray Award, Champion of General Magic, Larry Spencer Pro of the Year Award, All Winners Magical Championships, Best of British Performers and Service to Magic Awards.

Mark retired in 2019 to Llandudno care home were he celebrated his 100 birthday in 2022.

Found in 5 Collections and/or Records:

Christmas Greetings from Mark and Joan Raffles, c2000 - 2008

Reference code: 178F20.2
Scope and Contents

Christmas card from Mark and Joan Raffles to Cryril and Shirley Critchlow. Illustration of Tivoli theatre bill from 1945 on the front with details of the acts described inside the card.

Dates: c2000 - 2008

Correspondence, c1900 - 2008

Reference code: 178F20
Scope and Contents

Items of personal correspondence and correspondence related to the Sanger and Ohmy families.

Dates: c1900 - 2008

Cyril Critchlow Collection

Reference code: NFA0089
Scope and Contents The Cyril Critchlow collection contains programmes, posters, handbills, books and magic journals, many of which relate to shows in Blackpool where Cyril resided and includes material on entertainment venues such as Blackpool’s North Pier, Central Pier, South Pier, Tower Circus and a small collection of programmes from other national venues. Additionally, it contains circus photographs and postcards mainly of the Ohmy Circus and Sanger Circus including individual circus troupes and performers...
Dates: c1837 - 2008

Signed Handbill, 2002

Reference code: 178Z28.29
Scope and Contents

Grand Churchgate Theatre, Bolton. Handbill copy from Mark Raffles to Cyril Critchlow with inscription.

Dates: 2002

Various Items Related to Variety, c1837 - 2008

Reference code: 178Z28
Scope and Contents

Various items related to variety theatre in Blackpool and other locations.

Dates: c1837 - 2008