Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On Mother Kelly's Doorstep and Danny La Rue

Last month, while answering Iain Dale's 20 firsts meme, I said that the first famous person I had met was Danny La Rue, when I was aged about 8. I was one of the children asked up on to the stage halfway through one of his pantomimes - Queen Passionella and the Sleeping Beauty, to be precise. We sang "Doe, a Deer", as it happens, and having a deep voice I was given the first line.

Anyway, my strongest memory of the evening, apart from my own performance, is of Danny La Rue coming out in front of the curtain, as himself, and announcing that someone had died and singing his own signature tune "On Mother Kelly's Doorstep" as a tribute to him.

I have tried to make sense of this memory in recent years, assuming that the person who had died was the writer of the song. But on investigation he turned out to be George Stevens, and he died in 1954.

Then a few days ago I heard Barry Humphries on Desert Island Discs. One of the records he chose was "On Mother Kelly's Doorstep, as sung by Randolph Sutton.

Sure enough, Wikipedia tells us that Sutton made a famous recording of the song and died on 28 February 1969. Which dates my first and last West End performance to within a day or two.

Next week on Among my Fragrant Souvenirs I shall be interviewing the late Dame Anna Neagle. I shall say goodbye this week with the lovely, lovely Danny singing our song.

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