elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
elisa_rolle
elisa_rolle

Dennis Heymer, Frankie Howerd & Chris Byrne

Frankie Howerd was a staple of British comedy radio, television, and film for over forty years. Following service in World War II, he joined other veterans as the host of the Variety Bandbox for BBC Radio. By 1950 he was the most popular comedian on the BBC. He co-starred with child actor (and later pop phenom) Petula Clark in the 1954 comedy film The Runaway Bus. This was followed by The Ladykillers, The Mouse on the Moon, and a couple of the Carry On series of slapstick films.

Howerd made near-annual appearances in pantomimes, the traditional British Christmas-season fairy tales for children, usually featuring men in dresses. He starred as Pseudolus in the West End premiere of the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. This led to a BBC series, Up Pompeii! (1969-1970), in which Howerd played a Roman slave to Max Adrian’s camp Senator Sextus. The series was a hit, spinning off three films, a couple of related TV series, and revivals in 1975 and 1991.

Howerd lived for over thirty years in a not-always-monogamous relationship with his manager Dennis Heymer. They shared houses in London and Somerset with him until Howerd's death in 1992. A dapper figure, Heymer was working as a wine waiter at the Dorchester on Park Lane when he met Howerd, who was having dinner there with Sir John and Lady Mills; it was 1958, homosexuality was still illegal, and Howerd was beginning to despair about his career and his physical attractiveness. Over the following weeks, Howerd regularly reappeared at the hotel on his own. His secret relationship with the comedian was featured in a BBC4 drama aired last year, Rather You Than Me, in which the actor Rafe Spall played Heymer to David Walliams's Howerd.


Frankie Howerd was a staple of British comedy radio, television, and film for over forty years. Howerd lived for over thirty years in a not-always-monogamous relationship with his manager Dennis Heymer. A dapper figure, Heymer was working as a wine waiter at the Dorchester on Park Lane when he met Howerd, who was having dinner there with Sir John and Lady Mills; it was 1958, homosexuality was still illegal, and Howerd was beginning to despair about his career and his physical attractiveness.


Dennis Heymer & Frankie Howerd are both buried at St Gregory Churchyard, Weare, Somerset, England. At the death of Frankie Howerd, Dennis Heymer married Chris Byrne in a civil ceremony, probably to avoid inheritance tax on Howerd’s estate. On Heymer’s tombstone you can read: “Reunited with late partner of 40 years Frankie Howerd O.B.E. In loving memory, from his civil partner of 16 years, Chris Byrne. May the angels ring out”



Another lover was comic Lee Young. Howerd was troubled by lifelong anxiety, lack of self-confidence, depression, and conflicts about his sexuality. He once told singer Cilla Black, "I wish I wasn’t gay."

Source: Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals by Keith Stern

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher


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