The Pranks of Horace de Vere Cole

The Daily Mail offers a short biography of Horace de Vere Cole (1881-1936), a man who made pranks his life work. His most famous prank was the Dreadnought Hoax of 1910. Here are a few of his others:
  • He "once stood in the street handing out free theatre tickets to a series of extremely bald passers-by with the result that, when viewed from the dress circle, the assembly of shiny bald heads in the carefully chosen seats clearly spelt out an expletive - complete with a dot over the 'i'."
  • He used to "wander the streets with a cow's udder poking through his flies. At the moment of optimum outrage, he would then produce a pair of scissors and snip off the offending protrusion."
  • "More adolescent pranks ranged from organising a large party where all the guests were called Ramsbottom or Winterbottom to driving around London in a taxi with a naked tailor's dummy. Whenever he saw a policeman, he would stop the cab, open the door and beat the dummy's head on the ground, shouting: 'Ungrateful hussy!'"
Odd fact: he was Neville Chamberlain's brother-in-law.


Posted on Wed Nov 26, 2008


If this guy interests you at all, see what you can find about Hugh Troy, who was kind of the American Horace deVere Cole.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Nov 27, 2008  at  02:41 AM
Actually got a page on the site about Hugh Troy. I think that a lot of the info about Troy comes from Smith's Compleat Practical Joker.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Nov 27, 2008  at  07:20 AM
What would he have done if some of the bald guys hadn't shown up?
Posted by Sakano  on  Thu Nov 27, 2008  at  03:34 PM
I used to own a copy of H. Allen Smith's Compleat Practical Joker but I have no idea what became of it. :(
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Nov 28, 2008  at  02:39 AM
Horace sounds like a man born way before his time. What could he have done with modern instantaneous media?
Posted by KDP  on  Mon Dec 01, 2008  at  09:49 AM
KDP, the very thought of old Horace with a flashmob at his disposal is too terrifying to contemplate . . . It's worse than the idea of old Askew with modern prosthetics at his disposal.
Posted by D F Stuckey  on  Mon Dec 01, 2008  at  07:52 PM
If you want to know about Horace de Vere Cole there is a biography of him just out, called The Sultan of Zanzibar and written by Martyn Downer. It covers all the things commented on here and a lot more.
Posted by A Funny Thing Happened  on  Wed Mar 31, 2010  at  09:43 AM
Sounds like a really fun guy. Too bad he isn't still around.
Posted by Meringue  on  Thu May 10, 2012  at  05:47 PM
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