It's 50 years since Tony Hancock died, and the BBC's 'Radio 4 Extra' recently paid homage to the great man. It reminded me of the following.
Hancock came to live on the edge of my Surrey village in the late 1950's (?). The first visual manifestation of his presence was an abandoned white Mercedes 300 SL Roadster by the village war memorial and pond, that his girlfriend (later wife) Freddie had crashed whilst drunk. The crumpled car stayed there for about two weeks; goodness knows why!
Hancock had bought (or more likely rented) a pleasant house next-door to a friend of my fathers', on the outskirts of Lingfield, towards Blindley Heath. My father's friend was quite excited at having such a famous new neighbour, but did his best to hide his enthusiasm. He simply presumed that at some time they'd meet, and wisely decided not to rush round with his autograph book.
One day, he saw Hancock striding up his drive. He immediately presumed that he had come to introduce himself; in fact he's come to complain that he could see their washing line from his sitting room window, and demanded that it be re-positioned.
That was their one and only encounter, and my father's friend was extremely happy when Hancock eventually moved on.
It's well known that Hancock was a difficult man. He was seriously alcoholic, and had 'demons'. Regardless, I always loved his shows, and listening again recently to several episodes of Hancock's Half Hour was a real pleasure.
Frail of mind, but very funny. Something happened when he was here in Australia, but the internet is not being helpful and I can't remember what it was. I'll look later when I have more time.ReplyDelete
He committed suicide in Oz. His 'demons' got the better of him.Delete
I have a vague memory of something happening in the butcher's shop but then wonder if it was there as I can't imagine him shopping for meat.ReplyDelete
Yes, I have other vague memories too, but the one that sticks in the mind was the washing line. Charming!Delete
His radio programmes were wonderful - one of the highlights of our week. Strange now that TV seems to take precedence that we were so fascinated by the old radio programmes - in some ways so much better as they left more to the imagination.ReplyDelete
I still prefer Radio to most TV programmes. I don't like violence, murders, explosions, car crashes, etc; and Radio caters more for my taste.Delete
I looked him up on the Wikipedia, and he comes off as a horrid person. We had a similar comedian in the US, around the same time, Jackie Gleason. He was funny on stage, and miserable off. He was a very big star but when he died, few mourned.ReplyDelete
Hancock was hugely popular, but off stage was a bit of a monster. He also abandoned all those who'd made him the big star that he was, which ended in his demise.Delete
Giving blood, Hancock was hilarious...'a whole armful?'ReplyDelete
One of his BEST.Delete
Comedians are usually very lonely, sad and depressed. They have to make people laugh even if they are dying inside. The clown is a good example...a big smile drawn on a pale face with sad eyes and a big red (alcoholic) nose.ReplyDelete
Greetings Maria x
It does seem to be part of the job. Happy on stage; miserable off.Delete
Sad that such well-liked and popular celebrities see the need to behave in such obnoxious ways off-stage.ReplyDelete
Perhaps we're fortunate that our area doesn't attract them?
I think Hancock was a naturally angry man. Some people are born that way.Delete
We always listened to Hancock’s half hour ( and watched it when it came to television ) The Blood Donor was always the favourite but The Radio Ham was another good one and I remember when he decided to become an artist as well. !!! He obviously had so many issues like Kenneth Williams ..... such sad endings. XXXXReplyDelete
The Rebel (artist) was a terrific film. I started to look at it again recently on YouTube, but I couldn't spare the time. I shall mark it in my diary to watch later.Delete
I have always been ambivalent about Hancock, even as a child. The washing line story does not surprise me.ReplyDelete
I think everyone in the village soon heard about the washing line fiasco; he was viewed very differently afterwards.Delete
I remember feeling cheated when the stories of his alcoholism and then suicide hit the front pages of the papers. The washing line story is true to character. It could have been turned into something as memorable as the Blood Donor.ReplyDelete
At the time the most interesting bit was the crashed car. Why no-one took it away, we couldn't understand. Even the police ignored it. I'm sure it was there for 2 weeks; sticking out into a busy road.Delete
I once shared a hotel lift with a British comedian (name immaterial lest you faint) first thing in the morning. He had performed the previous evening at a corporate event hosted by my husband. Oh dear. What a difference a few hours can make. Where was the smile? Where was the charm? Never mind. A lot of people are grumpy in the morning. You don't even have to be a comedian.ReplyDelete
As to Hancock. On my arrival on these isles (in the eighties) my freshly baked and English husband showed me re-runs of Hancock's Half Hour. As an introduction to British humour it was more Sartre than Camus. I liked him (Hancock, not Sartre). Had an aura of Greek tragedy around him. I do think people too harsh. Sure he was an alcoholic, sure he was a difficult man to get on with; but that is something to be pitied not condemned. Washing line or not.
Actually, come to think of it, Cro, if you allow me amend the last lineDelete
...something to be pitied and accommodated, not condemned.
I don't think anyone admonished him; they just coped with his idiosyncrasies. Live and let live.Delete
It was a funny show. Always remember that introductory music.ReplyDelete