Does anybody recognise this handsome man in this photograph? No? Well this is one of my absolute idols, Mr Danny La Rue. Who, some of you may ask. If I tell you that he was one of the most famous and fabulous entertainers of the seventies and eighties and at the time was one of the most famous drag queens in the world. However he hated the word drag and he insisted on being called a comic in a frock!! Well let me tell you, he had the most fabulous clothes and a figure that I can only dream of, but he always liked people to know he was a man and would finish his shows by appearing as Dan.
I first came across Danny La Rue after watching his film on television ‘Our Miss Fred’ and watching ‘The Good Old Days’. I was brought up on variety and music hall and going to the theatre to see variety acts was normal entertainment for my family and I used to practise the acts at home and variety was still shown quite a lot on television. I was mesmerised by the glamour.
As I got older I was able to see Danny live many occasions around the country. I have seen him in his summer shows, music hall shows, pantomimes and playing Captain Terri Dennis in ‘Privates On Parade’ by Peter Nichols. He was a lovely person in real life and, in my opinion, one of the great stars of yester year.
I was very sad when I heard that he had died, on May 31st 2009 but knew he had been very ill.
If you love beautiful costumes, double entendre, then You Tube ‘Danny La Rue’
Danny La Rue -The Good Old Days
Danny La Rue – A fabulous life in drag
If you would like to carry on reading I have included a short biography of Danny La Rue who Bob Hope described as ‘The most glamorous woman in the world’.
Danny La Rue was born Daniel Patrick Carroll in Ireland on 26th July 1927.
When he came back from the war he worked in Exeter Devon and moved to London.
In 1953 he appeared in his first pantomime and was asked to dress as a girl !!
Danny worked at ‘Huttons’ in London and he introduced fashion parades.
Danny La Rue worked cabaret at Churchill’s, London Winston’s, Clifford Street London with Barbara Windsor, Ronnie Corbett and Amanda Barrie. He later opened his own club ‘Danny La Rue’s in the West End London in 1954 to 1972. This was the club to be seen at and patrons included Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Noel Coward, Rudolf Nureyev, Princess Margaret, The Kray twins and Barbara Windsor, to name just a few.
No expense was spared for Danny’s costumes. The more feathers and sequins , the better!!
Danny had success in everything he tried. Cabaret, Pantomime,television and the West End stage. He also took his show on tour to Australia and Canada.
Danny La Rue placed a lot of his money in property. He bought a chateau in the South of France, a house in Henley and Walton Hall in the Midlands England.
He placed Walton Hall up for sale in 1983 but two ‘business men’ persuaded him to go into business with them and they took him for all of his money and accumulated too many debts against the hotel that the hotel closed and the Henley home had to be sold. He had lost around a million pounds.
Danny carried on working a lot longer than what he said he would to pay back the money he owed.
Danny was the first (and only??) man to play Dolly Levi in ‘Hello Dolly’ in London.
Throughout his career he portrayed many glamorous women, for example, Joan Collins, Betty Grable, Marie Lloyd, Marlene Dietrich, Shirley Bassey and Jane Russell.
He died in his home shortly before midnight on 31 May 2009 His companion, Annie Galbraith, was with him when he died. He was laid to rest with his partner, Jack Hanson, in St Mary’s Cemetery, Kensal Green, London.
Do you have a favourite drag queen or variety entertainer? I’d love to know!
Sparkle Hugs and Glitter Kisses xxx
(Some facts checked with ‘From Drags to Riches’ LaRue, D.)
Update: A friend of Danny La Rue has been in touch and has informed me of a couple of facts. Danny’s club did not open until 1964 and it was around 1.9 million that was lost on Walton Hall and the house at Henley.
It was amazing to be in touch with somebody who was close to Danny and I thank Ms Butler very much for contacting me and hope she shares many more memories. xx
All photographs, unless stated, are copyright of Lorna Liza