100 years ago today
English comedian and comic actor, Frankie Howerd, was born this day in 1917. Fellow comedian Barry Cryer described his career as “a series of comebacks”, which spanned six decades. Beginning his professional career in the late 40s, he got a real boost in the 60s appearing on ‘That Was The Week That Was’ and ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum’ in London’s West End. After featuring in “Carry On Doctor”, he started to get his own shows on TV, especially in ‘Up Pompeii!’, appearing as slave Lurcio. The show got it’s film version in 1971, .and Howerd played versions of Lurcio in the follow ups “Up The Chastity Belt” and “Up The Front”.
Throughout his early career he had to hide his homosexuality (acts between consenting males was illegal until 1967). He once said to Cilla Black, ” I wish to God I wasn’t gay.” In 1958, he met wine waiter Dennis Heymer while dining with Sir John Mills. Heymer became Howerd’s lover and manager, and they remained together until Howerd’s death.
Howerd contracted a virus whilst on a trip up the Amazon river in 1991. Suffering respiratory problems the following year, he died of heart failure on 19 April 1992, aged 75, just one day before fellow comedian Benny Hill.
70 years ago today
Celebrating their 70th birthdays today are American actor/writer/producer/director, Rob Reiner and English singer Kiki Dee.
Reiner directed Stephen King’s comedy-drama “Stand By Me” (1986), romatic comedy fantasy adventure “The Princess Bride” (1987), the romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally…” (1989), Stephen King’s psychological horror-thriller “Misery” (1990), military courtroom drama “A Few Good Men” (1992). He is perhaps best known for his directorial debut “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984). His father, Carl Reiner will be 95 on 20 March.
Dee was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire. She was the first female singer from the UK to join Motown’s Tamla Records. She is best known for the hits ‘I’ve Got The Music In Me’ and ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’, on which she dueted with Elton John. Dee has teamed up with guitarist/composer Carmelo Luggeri and they are currently on tour to promote their new album “A Place Where I Can Go”. See www.kikiandcarmelo.com.
45 years ago today
Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal was born today in 1972. He was an American basketball player listed at 7’1″ tall, playing for LA Lakers between 1996 and 2004. He was also a rapper, releasing five studio albums between 1993 and 2001. More recently he has acted on TV and in film, and became a wrestler in 2016 as a surprise celebrity entry in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 32.
30 years ago today
The MS Herald Of Free Enterprise capsized after leaving Zeebruge, killing 193 people. Owned by Townsend Thoresen, the ship was designed for rapid loading and unloading and there were no watertight compartments. She left port with its bow doors open, immediately flooding the decks, and leaving her lying on her side in shallow waters. An assistant boatswain was blamed for having been asleep in his quarters when he should have been closing the bow doors but the official enquiry placed more blame on his supervisors and poor communication within the company.
Since the disaster, the design of roll-on roll-off ferries was improved. The Herald Of Free Enterprise was scrapped in 1988, as was its sister ship, Herald (renamed Flushing Range). However, its other two sister ships were not scrapped many years later. The Spirit Of Free Enterprise sailed under a range of names on the English Channel and around the Greek Islands where she was scrapped in 2012 under the name MS Anthi Marina. The Pride Of Free Enterprise sailed as MF Sherbatskiy between Spain and Morocco until 2015.
The sequel to 1959’s “The Hustler”, “The Color Of Money” (trailer) was released in UK cinemas. Paul Newman reprised his role as Edward “Fast Eddie” Felson. 25 years after the events of the first film, Felson has retired from the pool circuit and has discovered young pool player Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise). They go on the road where Eddie teaches Vincent how to make money through hustling pool. The film also starred Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Helen Shaver and Forest Whitaker.
Newman won the Oscar for Best Actor In A Leading Role and Mastrantonio earned a nomination for Best Actress In A Supporting Role.
25 years ago today
“Cape Fear”, starring Robert De Niro, Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis, appeared in UK cinemas (trailer). It was a remake of the 1962 film of the same name that starred Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum and Martin Balsam, who all had cameos in this new version. This would be Peck’s final movie. De Niro stars as a convicted rapist who, through gaining knowledge of the law and its loopholes, seeks revenge on the former public defender whom he blames for his 14 year imprisonment through faulty tactics at the trial.
The movie was directed by Martin Scorsese, who swapped places with Steven Spielberg who found the script too violent, and so he claimed “Schindler’s List” back from Scorsese.
A box office success, it earned $182m. De Niro and Lewis were both nominated for Oscars and Golden Globes.