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Marjorie Thomson obituary: Popular comedienne from famous Belfast show business family

By Eddie McIlwaine

Marjorie Thomson, better known as comedienne Marjorie Rea, used to predict she would have a short life because she was born on December 21 - the shortest day of the year.

But the prediction was wide of the mark, for Marjorie has just passed away only days short of her 95th birthday.

Friends argued the toss with her about the true date of that short day.

They tried pointing out to her that it could fall on either December 21, 22 or 23, according to how far the North Pole was tilted from the sun.

But Marjorie was adamant the permanent date was December 21, no matter how many years she lived.

She was one of Northern Ireland's much-loved show business personalities for 70-plus years, turning to comedy as a career following a short time in Gallaher's Tobacco Factory in York Street, Belfast, after leaving Mountcollyer Secondary School at 16.

Marjorie was predeceased by her husband John Thomson and their disabled daughter Marjorie junior. She spent a lot of her time to raising funds for the Martin Residential Trust, devoted to caring for disabled children and founded by ex-footballer Jim Martin, who is now 84.

She was a member of a Belfast family steeped in show business. Her father was comic Tom Reynolds snr and her brother was the late comedian Tom Reynolds, who used the stage name Raymond.

Marjorie was looking forward to the wedding on December 28 of her great niece Jessica Reynolds in Malone House to IT consultant Gary Anderson.

"In spite of her poor health she desperately wanted to be there to tell a few jokes and welcome Gary into the family circle," said Marjorie's nephew and Jessica's father, George Reynolds.

The funeral service was conducted in Baird's Parlour in Antrim, where Marjorie had lived for many years, by the Rev Michael Gregory of the town's Methodist church, and entertainer Trevor Kelly sang How Great Thou Art which was one of her favourites.

Show business personalities including Barry Brent, Billy McFarland, Joe Cauley, John Cooke, Maureen Hatrick and Roberta Clements were among the mourners. After the service Marjorie was laid to rest in Antrim Cemetery.

Author Jim Livingstone, son of the late Bridie Gallagher, described her as a great professional and a lovely woman.

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