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Desperate for Downton

Downton Abbey’s Jack Ross Based on Real Jazz Singer?

October 10, 2013 9:57am (EDT)
It's possible that the character Jack Ross (played by Gary Carr) is based on real jazz star Leslie "Hutch" Hutchinson.
It's possible that the character Jack Ross (played by Gary Carr) is based on real jazz star Leslie "Hutch" Hutchinson.

Downton Abbey’s Jack Ross could be based on the very real black American jazz musician Leslie “Hutch” Hutchinson. That's what the U.K.’s Daily Mail and The Telegraph are proposing. Hutchinson was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. He captured the public’s imagination and attention for the scandalous affairs he had aristocrats.

He was most famously romantically connected to Edwina Mountbatten, Countess Mountbatten of Burma and the debutante Elizabeth Corbett.

Despite the philandering, Hutchinson was a talented artist. Hutchinson played the West End in a spectacular revue called “One Dam Thing." He also entertained troops during World War II. But he still faced similar discrimination as African American artists. The Daily Mail and The Telegraph report he could not appear onstage with white women and he was relegated to the orchestra pit.

Prejudice and scandal got the best of Hutchinson. He ultimately died penniless. You can read the Daily Mail and The Telegraph’s accounts. His story is pretty fascinating as it offers another person’s perspective of London royal society.

It remains to be seen if Julian Fellowes will spice up Downton’s plots by giving Jack Ross stories ripped from Hutchinson’s real life escapades. (It’s rumored that Jack will woo Lady Rose.) But it will also be fun to speculate that Fellowes has.

What do you think about Downton’s Jack Ross character being possibly based on real jazz singer Leslie “Hutch” Hutchinson and Hutchinson’s story? Let us know.

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