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Frankie Howerd

Frankie Howerd

Frankie Howerd (Francis Alick Howard, March 6, 1917 - April 19, 1992) was a distinctive English comedian and comic actor. Note that he spelt his stage surname differently from his real name.

Lightly educated, he got into entertaining during his wartime stint in the army. Despite suffering from appalling 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 early 1950s (aided by material written by Eric Sykes, Galton and Simpson and Johnny Speight), but then he began experimenting with different formats and contexts, including stage farces, Shakespearean comedy roles and television sitcoms, and 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. 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 (1963-65) this led into regular television work, He was awarded a OBE in 1977.

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 ticks; Oooh, no missus,, Titter ye not, and so on. Another feature of his humour was to make obvious double entendres and then blame the audience for having dirty minds when they laughed.

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.

Throughout his career, Howerd hid his - potentially career destroying - homosexuality (which had been illegal in Britain until 1967) from both his audience and his mother. However, back stage, he was notoriously bold in his advances.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Frankie Howerd Facts

Birth NameFrancis Alick Howard
OccupationActor, Comedian
BirthdayMarch 6, 1917
BirthplaceEngland, United Kingdom
Date of deathApril 19, 1992 (age 75)

Selected Filmography

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Ladykillers
Gilbert & Sullivan: H.M.S. Pinafore
CARRY ON Double Feature Vol 2: Carry On Doctor & Carry On Up the Khyber
British Cinema Volume 2
Carry On Double Feature Vol 4: Carry On Up the Jungle & Carry On Loving
Gilbert and Sullivan Collection
The Frankie Howerd The Collection
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