Charlie Drake

Charlie Drake

Date of birth: 19-06-1925

Although he originally tried to break into showbusiness as a singer, with his shock of red hair 5ft1in stature and strained Cockney voice, it was perhaps inevitable that Drake would find more success as a comic.

Like many others, he concentrated on a stage career afted demob for the RAF, and he first appeared on TV in 1954 as half of a children's TV slapstick duo Mick and Montmorency, with his 6ft 4in wartime comrade Jack Edwardes

The BBC then asked him to come up with an adult show, and the result, Laughter In Store, led to others, see left, including his most famous, The Worker, as well as a few unsuccesful films.

In 1961, he fractured his skull when a slapstick stunt on his live BBC show, in which he was pulled through a bookcase and thrown through a window, went wrong - leaving him unconscious for three days. He retired from showbusiness for two years after the accident.

Best remembered for his opening catchphrase Hello My Darlings!, Drake eventuallty returned to music, starting with a genuine rock and roll cover Splish Splash, but quickly giving way to a string of novelty tracks, including, most famously My Boomerang Won't Come Back.

In the Seventies, his star faded. According to his friend Eric Sykes the work dried up after he clashed with the powerful actors' union Equity over the casting of a girl in one of his pantomimes who didn't have an Equity card. 'There aren't many people who will put their career on the line for a principle,' he wrote in hs book Comedy Heroes. 'He has all my admiration’.

Among his last appearances were supporting roles in Jim Davidson's adult pantomime, Sinderella.

He suffered a stroke in 1995 and has now retired to a nursing home on the south coast.

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DVD (2007)
The Worker

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