Cal McCord Collection

Scope and Content

This collection includes material relating to both Eleanor (Lea) McCord and Cal McCord. It includes: certificates, memberships, photographs, memorabilia, programmes, one magazine and a scrapbook.

Administrative / Biographical History

Cal McCord (1904-1983) was born Hertzel Spenadl in London’s Whitechapel in July 1904 and became popular in Britain during the 1940s-1960s as a Canadian cowboy, rope-spinner, juggler, singer, actor and comedian. The son of Benjamin Spenadl and his wife Anne Louise Ginger who married in Mile End in 1898 and had only one son, but a daughter Hannah who died aged 6 months and six other daughters Rachael, Frieda, Mendel, Zeasel, Malka and Surya, Hertzel, went to Canada aged 16 or 17 where he joined the army. He learned rope-spinning, became a performer with the Canadian Army and with ‘the Macordialities’ spent six years entertaining Canadian troops across Europe during WWII.

He appeared in a variety of television programmes in England including the BBC television documentary How to be a Cowboy (1953), and the BBC radio series, Riders of the Range (1949). His notable film credentials include Carry on Cowboy (1966) and Never Take Sweets From a Stranger (1960). McCord continued to perform in variety shows and appeared at many music halls, competitions, fetes and fairs across Britain throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Eleanor (Lea) McCord performed in amateur dramatics and variety shows throughout her life. Prior to marrying McCord she was also a performer for the British Army entertainment branch (E.N.S.A).

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here:

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

Gift, Sandra Herman.

Separated Material

3 Music sheets have been removed from the collection, they can be found in the following locations:

  • "If I Were a Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof. S. 1370-2014
  • Les Sylphides. S. 1369-2014
  • Au Revoir (J'attendrai). S. 1371-2014

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.

Custodial History

This collection was amassed by Cal and Eleanor McCord. After Eleanor's death, her only remaining sister passed on the collection to Sandra Herman, who donated it to the V&A.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Material relating to Entertainment National Service Association (E.N.S.A), as well as 20th Century variety shows in general may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details.