How sad that it takes the death of actor the quality of Frankie Howerd before his work is recognised and he receives the acclaim which his skills so richly deserved. Like so many of the older actors who are worshipped today, Howerd’s personal life was not a happy one and he had a constant battle to hide his homosexual tendencies in a business where this was frowned upon, and up until 1967 was actually illegal in the UK. It is even more amazing to see his performances on screen when you consider what was going on when the cameras stopped rolling.
Frankie Howerd was born in 1917 and died in 1992, and while his life in the later years seemed to be a little happier, living with his manager and partner Dennis Heymer, he seems to have been something of a tortured sole. He famously told Cilla Black that he wished that he was not gay because of the problems it caused in his personal and professional life, but by the time Howerd died nobody was bothered about his preferences.
His acting career spanned an impressive six decades and took in the likes of The Frankie Howerd Show, Frankie Howerd on Campus, Carry on Doctor, Carry on Up the Jungle, Up Pompeii!, Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and many many more. One of his main attributes was the ability to go from serious acting to comic acting at the drop of a hat, something which ensured that he had more than enough work to see him through his days.
This biographical look at the life and times of Frankie Howerd will open the eyes of many people who think life is tough today, because men like Howerd lived under constant threat of being “outed” by an industry which did not appreciate differing tastes in partners. Frankie Howerd was a genius and while his memory lives on, this program will surprise many.