Frankie Howerd: Wikis

  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Frankie Howerd

Frankie Howerd in a publicity still for Superfrank!
Born Francis Alick Howard
6 March 1917(1917-03-06)
York, North Yorkshire, England
Died 18 April 1992 (aged 75)
Fulham, London, England
Occupation Actor, comedian
Years active 1946–1992
Domestic partner(s) Dennis Heymer (1955–1992)

Frankie Howerd OBE (born Francis Alick Howard, 6 March 1917 – 18 April 1992), was an English comedian and comic actor whose career, described by Barry Cryer as 'a series of comebacks', spanned six decades.

Contents

Biography

Howerd was born the son of a soldier, Francis A. W. Howard, in York, North Yorkshire, England, in 1917 (not 1922 as he later claimed). He was educated at Shooters Hill Grammar School in Woolwich, London.[1] His first appearance on stage was at age 13 but his early hopes of becoming a serious actor were dashed when he failed an audition for RADA. He got into entertaining during World War II service in the army. Despite suffering from stage fright he continued to work after the war, beginning his professional career in the summer of 1946 in a touring show called For the Fun of It.

He soon started working in radio, making his debut at the start of December 1946 on the BBC Variety Bandbox programme with a number of other ex-servicemen. His fame built steadily throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s (aided by material written by Eric Sykes, Galton and Simpson and Johnny Speight). In 1954, he made his screen début opposite Petula Clark in The Runaway Bus, which had been written for his specific comic talents, but he never became a major film presence. The film was so low-budget that they could not afford scenery, background and such; instead they used a fog generator so that little was visible behind the action. The film was an immediate hit.

Early career

When he began experimenting with different formats and contexts, including stage farces, Shakespearean comedy roles, and television sitcoms, he began to fall out of fashion. After suffering a nervous breakdown at the start of the 1960s, he began to recover his old popularity, initially with a season at Peter Cook's satirical Establishment Club in Soho in London. He was boosted further by success on That Was The Week That Was (TW3) in 1963 and on stage with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1963–1965), which led into regular television work. In 1966 and 1967, he did a 90-minute Christmas show called The Frankie and Bruce Christmas Show with Bruce Forsyth, featuring many top acts of the day.

With Petula Clark in The Runaway Bus

Through the '60s and '70s, he did a number of shows for BBC and Thames (as well as Frankie Howerd Reveals All for YTV in 1980). Ray Galton and Alan Simpson wrote for him from 1964 to 1966 when he worked for the BBC and also for a one-off show for Thames, Frankie Howerd meets The Bee Gees, shown on 20th August 1968. He was famous for his seemingly off-the-cuff remarks to the audience, especially in the show Up Pompeii!, which was a direct follow-up from Forum. His television work was characterised by addressing himself directly to the camera and littering his monologues with verbal tics: "Oooh, no missus", "Titter ye not", and so on, but a later sale of his scripts showed that the seemingly off-the-cuff remarks were all planned. Barry Cryer said of his technique : " What he could do with a script was amazing, like all the great performers. He transformed something you'd just written - what you hoped was in a Frankie Howerd idiom - but when you heard him do it, my God, it was something else; - it was gossiping over the garden wall, the apparent waffle - he was like a tightrope walker, you thought he's going to fall off in a minute, you thought , 'Come on, Frank' , we're waiting for a laugh, and then, suddenly, Bang. He knew exactly what he was doing." [2] Another feature of his humour was to feign innocence about his obvious and risqué double entendres while mockingly censuring the audience for finding them funny.

Howerd's face was a gift to comedy but a testament to tragedy. When a reporter wrote that he had a face like "a landslide of sadness", Howerd got in touch with him to say how right that was.

He was awarded an OBE in 1977.

Later career

In 1978, Howerd was cast in the big-budget Hollywood musical Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band playing Mean Mr Mustard, acting alongside musical and film talent such as Peter Frampton, The Bee Gees, George Burns, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith and Steve Martin. He was cast by producer Robert Stigwood as he was on Stigwood's record label at the time. The film was a critical and commercial flop, although now it has achieved cult status. Since Howerd was not well known to American audiences, this may have been his biggest exposure in the U.S.

After five years without a regular television show (though he had hosted a one-off UK version of The Gong Show for Channel 4, which was critically panned and was not commissioned for a full series), Howerd returned to TV screens in 1987 in the Channel 4 show Superfrank!, scripted by Miles Tredinnick and Vince Powell. In the last years of his career, Howerd developed a cult following with student audiences and performed a one-man show at universities and in small theatrical venues. He was also a regular and popular guest on the late night BBC Radio 1 programme Into the Night, hosted by Nicky Campbell.

Howerd often worked with Sunny Rogers who was his accompanying pianist from 1960 onwards. She appeared in his TV and live theatre shows including his last major West End appearance—his one-man show—at the Garrick Theatre in 1990.

In 1982, Howerd appeared in the televised versions of Trial by Jury (as the Learned Judge) and H.M.S. Pinafore (as Sir Joseph Porter, KCB).

Death

Having contracted a virus during a Christmas trip up the Amazon River in 1991, Howerd suffered respiratory problems at the beginning of April 1992 and was rushed to London's Harley Street clinic, but was released at Easter to enjoy his last few days at home. He collapsed and died of heart failure two weeks afterwards, on the morning of 18 April 1992. He was 75 years old.[3] Two hours before he died, he was speaking on the telephone to his TV producer about new ideas for his next show.

Howerd died one day before fellow comedian Benny Hill. News of the two deaths broke almost simultaneously, and some newspapers ran a canned obituary of Hill in which the already dead Howerd was quoted as regretting Hill's passing, saying "We were great, great friends."

Personal life

Throughout his career, Howerd hid his potentially career-destroying homosexuality (acts between consenting males being illegal in Britain until 1967) from both his audience and his mother. In 1955, he met waiter Dennis Heymer, who later became his manager. Heymer was with Howerd for more than thirty years, as lighting operator, manager and partner, until Howerd died.

Backstage, Howerd was notoriously bold in his advances, and was known for his promiscuity. One of Howerd's former partners was comic actor Lee Young who created the TV sitcom Whoops Baghdad. Howerd's uncomfortable relationship with his sexuality—he once said to Cilla Black, "I wish to God I wasn't gay"—as well as his depressive mental state, led him to seek resolution through a series of different methods. Heymer would often drop Howerd off on Friday at his psychiatrist, who would ply him with LSD over the weekend.[4]

Howerd lived for the last 20 or so years of his life in Wavering Down, a house in the village of Cross, Somerset by the Mendip Hills.[5]

The song "Sects Therapy" from the CD Freudiana (released 1990) featured lead vocals by Howerd.

A BBC TV biography about Frankie Howerd—Rather You Than Me—has been produced and was broadcast by BBC Four on 9 April 2008. The script was written by Peter Harness, after extensive interviews with Howerd's partner, Dennis Heymer. Comedian David Walliams was cast as Howerd.[6]

On 15 May 2009, his former partner Dennis Heymer died in the home that he and Howerd had shared near Axbridge, Somerset. He was aged 80. [7]

Tourist attraction

Howerd's home, Wavering Down, is a tourist attraction and, in the summer, hosts concerts and opens regularly as a museum of Howerd's collection of memorabilia to raise funds for charities.[5] Howerd's grave is at St. Gregory's Church in Weare, Somerset.

Howerd also lived at 27 Edwardes Square, Kensington, London W8 6HH. The house bears a blue plaque erected by the Dead Comics' Society.

Works

Television

Selected filmography

Selected bibliography

  • On the Way I Lost It by Frankie Howerd (1976). ISBN 0-491-01807-X.
  • The Complete Frankie Howerd by Robert Ross (2001). ISBN 1-903111-08-0.
  • Frankie Howerd: Stand-Up Comic by Graham McCann (2004). ISBN 1-84115-310-9.

References

  1. ^ Howerd, Frankie (1976) On the Way I Lost It, W.H. Allen, ISBN 0 491 01807 X
  2. ^ Titter Ye Not The Frankie Howerd Story 15 September 2009 Radio 2
  3. ^ TV programme BBC Four on 4 September 2007 'Reputations: Frankie Howerd'
  4. ^ "Frankie Howerd's forbidden love". BBC News. 23 March 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6480117.stm. Retrieved 2007-12-16.  
  5. ^ a b Smith, Stephen (March 17 2007). "Titter ye not - it's Frankie's pad". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/4813788.stm. Retrieved 2007-10-16.  
  6. ^ "Walliams to play Frankie Howerd". The Guardian. 14 December 2007. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/dec/14/bbc.television?gusrc=rss&feed=media. Retrieved 2007-12-16.  
  7. ^ "Frankie Howerd's ex-partner dies". BBC News. 2009-05-18. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/8055693.stm. Retrieved 2009-05-18.  

External links


Frankie Howerd
Born Francis Alick Howard
6 March 1917(1917-03-06)
York, Yorkshire, England
Died 18 April 1992 (aged 75)
Fulham, London, England
Occupation Actor, comedian
Years active 1946–92
Partner Dennis Heymer (1955–92)

Francis Alick "Frankie" Howerd OBE (6 March 1917 – 18 April 1992) was an English comedian and comic actor whose career, described by fellow comedian Barry Cryer as "a series of comebacks",[1] spanned six decades.

Contents

Early career

Howerd was born the son of a soldier, Francis A. W. Howard, in York, Yorkshire, England, in 1917 (not 1922 as he later claimed). He was educated at Shooters Hill Grammar School in Woolwich, London.[2] His first appearance on stage was at age 13 but his early hopes of becoming a serious actor were dashed when he failed an audition for RADA. He got into entertaining during World War II service in the Army. Despite suffering from stage fright, he continued to work after the war, beginning his professional career in the summer of 1946 in a touring show called For the Fun of It.

He soon started working in radio, making his debut at the start of December 1946 in the BBC Variety Bandbox programme with a number of other ex-servicemen. His fame built steadily throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s (aided by material written by Eric Sykes, Galton and Simpson and Johnny Speight). In 1954, he made his screen début opposite Petula Clark in The Runaway Bus, which had been written for his specific comic talents, but he never became a major film presence. The film was so low-budget that they could not afford scenery, background and such; instead they used a fog generator so that little was visible behind the action. The film was an immediate hit.

Breakthrough

Howerd was a regular feature in the 1950s version of the comic Film Fun but when he began experimenting with different formats and contexts, including stage farces, Shakespearean comedy roles, and television sitcoms, he began to fall out of fashion. After suffering a nervous breakdown at the start of the 1960s, he began to recover his old popularity, initially with a season at Peter Cook's satirical Establishment Club in Soho in London. He was boosted further by success on That Was The Week That Was (TW3) in 1963 and on stage with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1963–1965), which led into regular television work. In 1966 and 1967, he did a 90-minute Christmas show called The Frankie and Bruce Christmas Show with Bruce Forsyth, featuring many top acts of the day.


Through the 1960s and 1970s, he did a number of shows for the BBC and Thames Television (as well as Frankie Howerd Reveals All for Yorkshire Television in 1980). Ray Galton and Alan Simpson wrote for him from 1964 to 1966 when he worked for the BBC and also for a one-off show for Thames, Frankie Howerd meets The Bee Gees, shown on 20 August 1968. He was famous for his seemingly off-the-cuff remarks to the audience, especially in the show Up Pompeii!, which was a direct follow-up from Forum. His television work was characterised by addressing himself directly to the camera and littering his monologues with verbal tics: "Oooh, no missus", "Titter ye not", and so on, but a later sale of his scripts showed that the seemingly off-the-cuff remarks were all planned. Barry Cryer said of his technique : "What he could do with a script was amazing, like all the great performers. He transformed something you'd just written - what you hoped was in a Frankie Howerd idiom - but when you heard him do it, my God, it was something else; - it was gossiping over the garden wall, the apparent waffle - he was like a tightrope walker, you thought he's going to fall off in a minute, you thought , 'Come on, Frank' , we're waiting for a laugh, and then, suddenly, Bang. He knew exactly what he was doing." [3] Another feature of his humour was to feign innocence about his obvious and risqué double entendres while mockingly censuring the audience for finding them funny.

He was awarded an OBE in 1977.

Later career

]] In 1978, Howerd was cast in the big-budget Hollywood musical Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band playing Mean Mr Mustard, acting alongside musical and film talent such as Peter Frampton, The Bee Gees, George Burns, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith and Steve Martin. He was cast by producer Robert Stigwood as he was on Stigwood's record label at the time. The film was a critical and commercial flop, although now it has achieved cult status. Since Howerd was not well known to American audiences, this may have been his biggest exposure in the U.S.

After five years without a regular television show (though he had hosted a one-off UK version of The Gong Show for Channel 4, which was critically panned and was not commissioned for a full series), Howerd returned to TV screens in 1987 in the Channel 4 show Superfrank!, scripted by Miles Tredinnick and Vince Powell. In the last years of his career, Howerd developed a cult following with student audiences and performed a one-man show at universities and in small theatrical venues. He was also a regular and popular guest on the late night BBC Radio 1 programme Into the Night, hosted by Nicky Campbell.

Howerd often worked with Sunny Rogers who was his accompanying pianist from 1960 onwards. She appeared in his TV and live theatre shows including his last major West End appearance—his one-man show—at the Garrick Theatre in 1990.

In 1982, Howerd appeared in the televised versions of Trial by Jury (as the Learned Judge) and H.M.S. Pinafore (as Sir Joseph Porter, KCB).

Death

Having contracted a virus during a Christmas trip up the River Amazon in 1991, Howerd suffered respiratory problems at the beginning of April 1992 and was rushed to London's Harley Street clinic, but was released at Easter to enjoy his last few days at home. He collapsed and died of heart failure two weeks afterwards, on the morning of 18 April 1992. He was 75 years old.[4] Two hours before he died, he was speaking on the telephone to his TV producer about new ideas for his next show.[citation needed]

Howerd died one day before fellow comedian Benny Hill. News of the two deaths broke almost simultaneously.

Personal life

Throughout his career, Howerd hid his potentially career-destroying homosexuality (acts between consenting males being illegal in England and Wales until 1967 and illegal in Scotland until 1981) from both his audience and his mother. In 1955, he met waiter Dennis Heymer, who later became his manager. Heymer was with Howerd for more than thirty years, as lighting operator, manager and partner, until Howerd died. When Howerd appeared as the subject of This Is Your Life, Heymer wore horn-rimmed glasses in an effort to appear less attractive and to perpetuate the illusion that he was solely Howerd's manager rather than his partner.[citation needed]

Backstage, Howerd was notoriously bold in his advances, and was known for his promiscuity. One of Howerd's former partners was comic actor Lee Young who created the TV sitcom Whoops Baghdad. Howerd's uncomfortable relationship with his sexuality – he once said to Cilla Black, "I wish to God I wasn't gay" – as well as his depressive mental state, led him to seek resolution through a series of different methods. Heymer would often drop Howerd off on Friday at his psychiatrist, who would ply him with LSD over the weekend.[5]

Howerd lived for the last 20 or so years of his life in Wavering Down, a house in the village of Cross, Somerset by the Mendip Hills.[6]

The song "Sects Therapy" from the CD Freudiana (released 1990) featured lead vocals by Howerd.

A BBC TV biography about Frankie Howerd—Rather You Than Me—has been produced and was broadcast by BBC Four on 9 April 2008. The script was written by Peter Harness, after extensive interviews with Howerd's partner, Dennis Heymer. Comedian David Walliams was cast as Howerd.[7]

On 15 May 2009, his former partner Dennis Heymer died in the home that he and Howerd had shared near Axbridge, Somerset. He was aged 80.[8]

Tourist attraction

Howerd's home, Wavering Down, is a tourist attraction and, in the summer, hosts concerts and opens regularly as a museum of Howerd's collection of memorabilia to raise funds for charities.[6] Howerd's grave is at St. Gregory's Church in Weare, Somerset.

Howerd also lived at 27 Edwardes Square, Kensington, London W8 6HH. The house bears a blue plaque erected by the Dead Comics' Society.

Works

Television

Selected filmography

Selected bibliography

References

  1. ^ Cryer speaking on Titter ye not; The Frankie Howerd Story Radio Two, 15 September 2009
  2. ^ Howerd, Frankie (1976) On the Way I Lost It, W.H. Allen, ISBN 0 491 01807 X
  3. ^ Titter Ye Not The Frankie Howerd Story 15 September 2009 Radio 2
  4. ^ TV programme BBC Four on 4 September 2007 'Reputations: Frankie Howerd'
  5. ^ "Frankie Howerd's forbidden love". BBC News. 23 March 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6480117.stm. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  6. ^ a b Smith, Stephen (March 17, 2007). "Titter ye not - it's Frankie's pad". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/4813788.stm. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  7. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (14 December 2007). "Walliams to play Frankie Howerd". London: The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/dec/14/bbc.television?gusrc=rss&feed=media. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  8. ^ "Frankie Howerd's ex-partner dies". BBC News. 2009-05-18. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/8055693.stm. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Francis Alick Howerd, known as Frankie Howerd OBE (6 March, 191719 April, 1992) was a distinctive English comedian and comic actor whose career spanned six decades. His routine was distinctive for including double entendres, with Howerd berating his audience for taking the bawdier interpretation. At various times he was the most popular comedian in Britain, but his career suffered in the late 1950s before a revival in the 1960s, including starring in Up Pompeii!. He was undergoing a second revival in the early 1990s at the time of his sudden death.

Sourced

  • Oooh noo, please, it's wicked to mock the afflicted! Well it might be one of your own! Don't laugh at her, she might want paying - I told her this was an audition! She's known to me as Madam Vera Roper, but she's known to everyone else as The English Open!
    • [1]
    • Frankie introducing Mrs Vera Roper, his pianist, who was deaf.
  • Very clever, all those boys are, very clever boys. I think they should turn professional. They tell me now they've learned to put on make-up. Soon they're going to use it on the stage!
  • I was on a cycle rally and we were passing Chequers – I thought, I'll nip in. I'm sorry – I told him. I was very forthright, stupid to be anything else. I said, "Harold, be careful", I said, "Harold, don't rush into this, I beg you." I don't think he got the message. Well, it's very difficult when you're shouting through a letter box!

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:







Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message