AustLit logo
person or book cover
Source: Australian Variety Theatre Archive
Harley Cohen Harley Cohen i(A13962 works by) (a.k.a. Harley. Cohan)
Born: Established: ca. 1893 Mudgee, Mudgee area, Gulgong - Mudgee - Rylstone area, Central West NSW, New South Wales, ;
Gender: Male
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


A former student of leading Sydney drama and elocution teachers, Stella Chapman and Douglas Ancelon, Harley Cohen enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces (A.I.F.) in 1915. He first came to prominence as a songwriter and performer in 1916 when his song 'They Were There, There, There' was sung to much acclaim on the Tivoli circuit by Peter Dawson. Cohen had written the words to the song while recovering from wounds he received during the Lone Pine charge at Gallipoli. The most serious of these injuries had resulted in the loss of any eye. He also became a popular choice for several companies as the face and voice for their advertisements, including Dr Sheldon's New Discovery (coughs and cold remedy) and Heenzo's Essence.

By mid-1916, having become somewhat of a celebrity, Cohen began making appearances at various concerts and entertainments, sometimes in company with other returned servicemen. Later that year he joined several other wounded soldiers to form a variety troupe that eventually became the original Gallipoli Strollers. Identified in the Australian Variety Theatre Archive as the Gallipoli Strollers 1 so as to differentiate it from a Western Australian-based troupe which also operated around the same period, the Strollers toured the Australia states through until at least mid-1920. One of the troupe's feature performers, Cohen presented turns that often comprised his own original songs and monologues.

A number of Cohen's published songs are held by the Australian National Library. Among his last known works were 'The Old Town Rings With Gladness' (a tribute to all the mothers who had lost sons in the Second World War) and 'Because I Love Australia,' published in 1954.

Most Referenced Works


  • A number of Cohen's songs during the 1940s were published with the spelling Cohan. These are not linked to the 'Cohen' songs in the National Library of Australia (NLA). It is unclear if the change in spelling was an error on the part of the printers or if Cohen instigated the changes himself. While several notices published by Cohen family in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1951 do retain the original spelling, the NLA catalogue attributes the song 'You'll Forget the bad Times' to Harley Cohan (as a self-published score).
Last amended 16 Sep 2013 23:05:09
Other mentions of "" in AustLit: