Danny La Rue
” The Unforgettable Danny La Rue’ & that he was! Before Rupaul had raced or Lilly Savage had shop lifted, Danny La Rue was it. From very humble beginnings to fisticuffs with Princess Margaret, he did it all & no lip syncing either. Danny sang, danced, acted, entertained but mainly sparkled and to dazzling effect, capturing the hearts of a nation. Adore him all over again as we take a trip down memory lane – sequins at the ready now”
Born as Daniel Patrick Carroll in Cork City, Ireland, in 1927, La Rue was the youngest of either four or five siblings. The family moved to England when he was six and he was brought up at Earnshaw Street in Soho, central London. When the family home was destroyed during the Blitz, his mother, a seamstress, moved her children to Kenn, a Devon village where young Daniel developed an interest in dramatics. “There weren’t enough girls so I got the pick of the roles … My Juliet was very convincing”, La Rue recalled.
He served in the British Royal Navy as a young man following his father’s footsteps, and even had a brief career delivering groceries, but he became known for his skill as a female impersonator (or „comic in a frock” as he preferred to be called) in Britain and was featured in theatre productions, and in film, television, and records.
Among his celebrity impersonations were Elizabeth Taylor, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, and Margaret Thatcher. At one point he had his own nightclub in Hanover Square, and also performed on London‘s West End. In the 1960s he was among Britain’s highest-paid entertainers. He used to own the Swan at Streatley hotel in the 1970s. In 1982 he played Dolly Levi in the musical Hello, Dolly!. He also has the distinction of being the only man to take over a woman’s role in the West End theatre when he replaced Avis Bunnage in Oh, What a Lovely War! and he was until his death still a regular performer in traditional Christmas pantomime shows in Britain.
In 1968 his version of „On Mother Kelly’s Doorstep” reached number 33 in the UK singles chart; La Rue later adopted the song as his theme tune.
He appeared in Every Day’s a Holiday, The Frankie Howerd Show, Our Miss Fred, Twiggs, Decidedly Dusty, Entertainment Express, Blackpool Bonanza and the BBC Play of the Month. He made a guest appearance in the Mr. Bean episode Mr. Bean in Room 426 in 1993.
He most recently appeared in Hello Danny a biographical show performed at Benidorm Palace, Spain on 11 November 2007. The part of La Rue was played by Jerry Lane, and La Rue appeared at the start of the show and then in an interview on stage in the second half. He also performed a number of songs, including Jayne County‘s „Queenage Baby”, accompanied by Dave Peterson to a sellout crowd.
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