TECHNOLOGY

Freddie Starr, who was once our highest paid entertainer, died bloated, penniless and disgraced


The virtually unknown star, who first appeared in the Royal Variety performance on November 9, 1970, held the audience in hand.

The sleek 27-year-old comic strutted across the stage in a ragged dark brown wig and tight black pants. The supple lower lip suddenly fell to the floor in the crevices and bounced back with the elasticity of a gymnast.

Freddie Starr was early in the night, but his furious turn as Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger together with a mail from comedian Norman Wisdom earned him such enthusiastic applause that he didn't have to take one, but two sheets.

Compare all this to a scene three years ago. The backdrop is Shaggy's Music Bar in the Spanish resort of Fuengirola, where a bloated and disheveled gray-haired man with a blue t-shirt clinging to his wide stomach pulls out an Elvis Presley number.

Uncontrollable: Liverpool's funny Freddie Starr poses with the dance group Hot Gossip in 1982

The footage, which was embarrassing for Freddie, shows an audience who is more interested in their drinks than the shambolic, pathetic, vaguely familiar figure on the microphone.

But this sad scene now underlines the last years of the once amazing talent Freddie Starr.

Persecuted by health problems, he was found dead in his apartment on the Costa del Sol on Thursday after suffering a heart attack at the age of 76. After years of ill health, his cleaner found him lying naked on the floor.

The comedian, stricken with health problems, was found dead in his apartment on the Costa del Sol on Thursday after suffering a heart attack at the age of 76

The comedian, stricken with health problems, was found dead in his apartment on the Costa del Sol on Thursday after suffering a heart attack at the age of 76

It was the lonely, isolated finale of a man who once topped on light conversation but died with the world and thought he was a dirty old man.

His name was tarnished forever after he was arrested under Operation Yewtree, the notorious police investigation into historical sexual abuse, primarily against minors. He was never charged, but the label was sticky.

The Liverpool-born joke had memorably performed on Opportunity Knocks, but it was this appearance before the late Queen Mother at the Royal Variety performance that sealed his success.

Freddie Starr was catapulted into the bright lights and directed a number of shows in the 1970s and 1980s. For a while he was the highest paid entertainer in Britain; He had yachts, a fleet of fast cars, a helicopter, and a Grand National winning horse (Miinnehoma won in 1994).

Never averse to the public, even if it showed him in a less positive light, he made the red headline from 1986 "Freddie Starr ate my hamster" endless miles (the story written by the ashamed publicist Max Clifford was fiction) . . Even 30 years later, he was stopped on the street by members of the public who wanted to know if it was true.

Starr's reputation never recovered after losing a claim against 57-year-old Karin Ward, who claimed to have fondled her when she was 15. He had tried to sue his prosecutor, a victim of serial sex offender Jimmy Savile, for defamation and gave interviews in which she said Starr had "terribly humiliated" her.

She described him as a "very bad attack on wandering hands" while filming a 1974 TV show. He was subsequently arrested but not charged and denied all claims.

But in 2015, a judge threw back the defamation case and decided that Miss Ward's statement was true.

Given a £ 960,000 bill he couldn't pay, chain smoker Starr fled to Spain and lived the last four years of his life in a £ 180,000 town house with five failed marriages (two with the same woman), seemingly sparse relationships with his six children .

For a time, Starr was the highest paid entertainer in the UK. He had yachts, a fleet of fast cars, a helicopter and a racehorse that won the Grand National

For a time, Starr was the highest paid entertainer in the UK. He had yachts, a fleet of fast cars, a helicopter and a racehorse that won the Grand National

It is not known whether the man who once admitted to being the "worst father in the world" had regular contact with his children before his death.

Whatever his mistakes were, the overwhelming sadness of what could have been summarized when Starr said in one of his last interviews in 2015: “I don't know where to go. Most of my old show business friends left me. I need help. I run out of money and am too sick to work. I don't see a very pleasant future ahead of me. I'm not long for this world, ”he predicted grimly.

His words should prove to be forward-looking. However, the showbiz world quickly recognized Starr's undeniable talents this week.

Comedian Bobby Davro described him as "the funniest man I've ever seen" while British Got Talent judge Amanda Holden said: "Sad to hear that Freddie Starr passed away today. His style may have come from comedy fashion and the favor has fallen out – but it is important to recognize his once great popularity and fame. & # 39;

And it is true; Starr was once the epitome of the success of show business.

Freddie Starr was considered by many to be a loose cannon due to his controversial routines with costumes

Freddie Starr was considered by many to be a loose cannon due to his controversial routines with costumes

Freddie Starr was considered by many to be a loose cannon – often because of his controversial routines with costumes

Starr was born in 1943 in Huyton, Liverpool, as Frederick Leslie Fowell and described his early years as "poor and bloody miserable".

His mother was a housewife and his father a builder with a violent trace – the comedian once claimed that his father broke both legs.

At the age of six, he was institutionalized for two years after losing the power of language. He reported the torture himself and described the days when he had counted the squares in the mesh of his bedroom window and had received only four visits from his family for the duration of his stay.

Singing was his way of overcoming the speech impairment he had left. He was nine years old when his mother signed him up for the Hilda Fallon Roadshow (also a training ground for Ken Dodd and Keith Chegwin), and 14 years old when he got a role in the Liverpool-based film Violent Playground.

But when the acting mistake didn't bite, he accepted music, fronted bands, including the Midnighters, and played in places like Liverpool's Cavern and Hamburg's Star Club along with Merseybeat hopefuls The Beatles. Then Starr joined The Delmonts cabaret outfit and began to make the musical impressions with which the fans will be familiar.

First was Little Richards Tutti Frutti in the style of horror actor Vincent Price. Then there was Elvis, Adam Faith and of course the Rolling Stones.

Starr appeared with The Delmonts in 1967 on the TV talent show Opportunity Knocks, where they were winners for six weeks in a row. When the Royal Variety Show ran around in 1970, Freddie was a real solo star.

The ITV sketch show Who Do You Do cemented the rise of the 5-foot 6-inch star to the top, and it became a household name known for jumping around in Nazi regalia as Adolf Hitler. It would be considered outrageous today, but it was comedy gold in the 1970s.

With the second wife Sandy and son Jody, Starr once admitted that he was the "worst father in the world".

With the second wife Sandy and son Jody, Starr once admitted that he was the "worst father in the world".

Unpredictable and anarchic, he once opened for Engelbert Humperdinck in Las Vegas and was instructed not to do his Presley tribute. He promptly made a 20-minute Elvis medley. Starr got away with it, the king was apparently very amused.

When he met Charlie Chaplin, the comedy legend reportedly told him: “You remind me of me as a young man in many ways. You have funny bones. . . you don't have to open your mouth to make people laugh. & # 39;

The practical jokes went too far. When he took in an audience long after his star wore off. . . In the 1990s, he threw maggots onto the very people who were there to pay tribute to him.

In 1997, he caused outrage by throwing live chickens into an audience at the Britannia Pier Theater in Great Yarmouth.

Starr photographed at home in 1974 with his second wife Sandy, whom he married at the height of his fame. The couple had three children together

Freddie Starr was one of the biggest stars of the 70s, 80s and 90s

Starr, right and left, took photos at home in 1974 with his second wife Sandy, whom he married at the height of his fame. The couple had three children together

As for smaller, furry animals, he said of this famous hamster heading: "I've never eaten or even nibbled a living hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, mouse, shrew, vole or other small mammal."

But his appetite for drugs took its toll and his personal life was a mess. Starr was only 17 when he married his first wife, Betty Simpson. They had a son, Carl, but divorced after 12 years when Betty caught him unfaithful.

Betty spoke about her home in St. Helens, Merseyside yesterday, and said that Carl hadn't seen his father since he was seven.

About her ex-husband, she said: "I am very sorry that he is gone. He was a very talented man, just not a very good husband. He was fine the first time he started showbiz, but the fame went to his head.

"Freddie Starr ate my hamster"

Lea La Salle, who said Freddie Starr ate her hamster

Lea La Salle, who said Freddie Starr ate her hamster

On March 13, 1986, The Sun newspaper published a story entitled "Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster".

He had stayed in Cheshire with Vince McCaffrey – his friend Lea La Salle claimed that Starr had come home from an appearance in Manchester and told her to make him a sandwich, the story said.

When she refused, Starr reportedly placed her hamster Supersonic between two slices of bread and ate it.

But Starr rejected the claims in his 2001 Unwrapped autobiography, saying, "I have never eaten or even nibbled a live hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, mouse, shrew, vole or other small mammal. "

“He was the best, he was brilliant when he was on stage, but he was a terrible husband.

"When we were together, I wanted him to keep his feet on the floor and be Freddie Fowell, not Freddie Starr when he gets home."

It wasn't Starr's style. In his heyday, he boasted of bedding 20 chorus line dancers, but much like in his story, confusing a canister of Dick Emery's ashes with a can of instant coffee is hard to know what is true.

After leaving Betty, he had three children with his second wife Sandy Morgan, a dancer on his show, but that ended in a bitter divorce and dirty accusations. Sandy claimed that her children were so afraid of their father during marriage that they kept knives under their beds, a claim he denied.

Starr switched to his former manager Trudy Coleman, with whom he had a daughter before he also got angry, and he married his third wife, Donna, who was 27 years younger than him.

They had a daughter named Ebony and a turbulent relationship in which they married and divorced twice.

With his retreating career, Starr admitted to Tonight With Trevor McDonald in 2000 that he took a handful of antidepressants every day.

There were attempts to revive his career that inevitably drove him into the world of reality television.

In 2004 he performed in the Celebrity Fit Club, but was downgraded to team captain because he didn't take the format seriously. Then there was the decision in 2008 to appear with Donna on Celebrity Wife Swap. They exchanged views with the former model Samantha Fox and her partner Myra Stratton. But it was an unwise move; he claimed it ruined his marriage.

Yesterday Donna, 48, said she was having trouble understanding the news. In the three-bedroom detached house she shares with the comic's daughter, Ebony, in Redditch, Worcestershire, she said, “His children have woken up to watch this news on TV or on social media. None of us had heard of Starr's death. I don't know how I feel at the moment. I am only here for my daughter. & # 39;

Starr met the fourth woman Sophie Lea in 2010 – a dancer on his tour – in the same year as his quadruple cardiac bypass. Unwisely, he joined the I & # 39; m A Celebrity line-up in 2011 – but retired for health reasons.

This marriage was similarly unsuccessful: they separated in 2015 after Sophie claimed that he had given her a black eye. "Freddie flew off furiously and took everything from me every day," she said. He started insulting me and told me I was useless and things like that. Our marriage was hell.

"If I asked him if he wanted a cup of tea and a scone and I forgot the scone, he would accuse me of not respecting and neglecting him."

Starr performs at Des O & # 39; Connor this evening in the 80s

Starr was pictured in a restaurant in Marbella, Spain in 2015, where he lived a few years before his death

According to police sources, there was no evidence that the death was suspicious. Right: Starr was pictured in a restaurant in Marbella, Spain in 2015, where he lived a few years before his death, and went on the Des O & # 39; Connor Tonight Show in the 80s

When the bill for his failed libel landed, Starr sold his home in Studley, Warwickshire for nearly £ 700,000, moved to Mijas on the Costa del Sol – and left Sophie behind.

Its existence there seems to have been sad; As a chain smoker, he was severely asthmatic and needed a nebulizer to help him breathe.

The neighbors told how the animator stopped talking to them yesterday after the boss of the complex he lived in tried to get him to pay the money owed.

Spanish lawyers are now expected to file a lawsuit against the comic's estate to try to collect the debt.

His supervisor Nelly Georgieva, 47, originally from Bulgaria, asks the family of the deceased comic to get in touch. She described how Starr was in love with her and said he hadn't heard from his family in four years.

"I want the embassy to tell me what's happening and what they're doing to him," she said.

"He was a good friend, very funny and happy," she added. I didn't love him romantically, not sexually, but his personality. As a friend and companion. & # 39;

Starr published this letter on his Facebook page on April 30. He was optimistic and easy to deal with. I'm still trying to make people smile. Still Freddie. & # 39; Hello everyone hope everyone is doing well? I'm fine, now I'm getting more tired, but otherwise I'm fine. & # 39;

In an interview in 1997, Starr said: “I've always gone my own way. I'll keep doing this until I die.

"I will always be a rebel and people will always write about me in newspapers. I accept that. I could never be a cliff (Richard), I would be afraid to be squeaky clean. & # 39;

There was never any danger.

. (tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) messages