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Reginald Foort

Reginald John Foort (23 January 1893 – 22 May 1980) was a cinema organist and theatre organist. He was the first official BBC Staff Theatre Organist from 1936 to 1938, during which time he made 405 broadcasts on the organ at St George's Hall, Langham Place.  'Reggie' was a hugely popular broadcaster in his heyday in the late 1930s in Britain and later settled in the United States, where he similarly enjoyed an illustrious career performing and recording.

Reginald Foort was born in Daventry, England, on 23 January 1893. His father was a church organist (leading Foort to joke later that he was 'born an organist'). Foort learnt the piano from the age of seven and took up the organ at eleven after his family moved to Rugby, studying with Basil Johnson, Master of Music at Rugby School.  Foort became both an Associate and a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists (FRCO) by the age of only 17 under the tutelage of Sir Walter Parratt and began his career as organist at St Mary's Bryanston Square, London. Having served in the Royal Navy during World War I, he worked as a piano accompanist for silent films in the 1920s, from which it was a natural progression to become a cinema organist.

In 1936 Foort was appointed as Staff Theatre Organist at the BBC, performing at St George's Hall, Langham Place,[4] and attained widespread popularity, not only for his musicality but also for his personal charm. Each episode began and closed with his beguiling signature tune 'Keep Smiling'. In 1937 Foort was voted the most popular radio entertainer in Britain, with twice as many votes as Gracie Fields, beating his friend and fellow organist Reginald Dixon into third place.    He remained in the role of Staff Theatre Organist until 1938, continuing to make broadcasts for the BBC on a freelance basis.

He died on 22nd May 1980 at the age of 87.

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