Monday, October 8, 2012


I used to be big into making audio cassettes and corresponding with others via that lost medium. As a result, I had friends all over the world including England. Those friends in England, all of whom I greatly missed, introduced me to the great British dance bands and great vocalists of the 1940s and 1950s. If it was not for them, I probably never would have known who Frankie Vaughan was.

Born on February 3, 1928 Vaughan was an English singer who specialized in traditional popluar music. He was born Frank Abelson to a Jewish family in Devon Street, Liverpool, England. The name 'Vaughan' came from a grandmother whose first grandson he was, who used to call Frank 'my number one' grandson, in whose Russian accent 'one' sounded like 'Vaughan'.

Vaughan's career began in the late 1940s in the theatre doing variety song and dance acts. He was known as a fancy dresser, wearing top hat, bow tie, tails, and carrying a cane. In the 1950s he worked for a few years with the Nat Temple band, and after that period he then began making records, and was popular in the UK. In 1955, he recorded what was to become his trademark song, "Give Me the Moonlight, Give Me the Girl".

He recorded a large number of songs that were covers of United States hit songs, including Perry Como's "Kewpie Doll," Jimmie Rodgers' "Kisses Sweeter than Wine," Boyd Bennett's "Seventeen" (also covered in the US by the Fontane Sisters), Jim Lowe's "The Green Door," and (with The Kaye Sisters), The Fleetwoods' "Come Softly to Me". From the 1950s through to the early 1960s, his recordings were popular in the UK. In 1956, his cover of "The Green Door" reached #2 in the UK Singles Chart. The same year he was voted 'Showbusiness Personality of the Year'. In early 1957, his version of "The Garden of Eden", reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart. In 1961, Vaughan hit #1 in the UK again, with "Tower of Strength", but the rise of beat music eclipsed his chart career for two or three years, before he returned to the Top 10 in 1967 with "There Must Be A Way". Chart success eluded him after this although he did have two more Top 40 singles; "Nevertheless" and "So Tired".

Managed at this time by the former journalist and theatrical agent Paul Cave he went to the United States in 1960 to make a movie with Marilyn Monroe, Let's Make Love, and was an actor in several other movies, but his recordings were never chart hits in the US. In 1961, Vaughan was on the bill at the Royal Variety Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, London.

He continued performing until 1985, when he starred in a stage version of 42nd Street at Drury Lane in London, opposite his old friend Shani Wallis who appeared in their first film together, Ramsbottom Rides Again with Arthur Askey. After a year, he suffered a near fatal bout of peritonitis and had to leave the cast. According to the BBC obituary, Vaughan was married to Stella from 1951 to 1999 and they had three children and several grandchildren. He was created an OBE in 1965, a CBE in 1996, and as a resident of High Wycombe had been a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Buckinghamshire since 1993. He was an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University. He died from heart failure in Oxford in 1999, aged 71. I can not speak for how Frankie Vaughan is remembered in England, but in the United States I know Vaugahan is truly forgotten to most people...


  1. Another interesting article. THANK YOU!
    Here's a link to Frankie's obit. from The Independent which I enjoyed reading:

    I heard of Frankie growing up in the 1970s. We used to have a bunch of old sheet music from the UK, and I remember seeing Frankie's picture on the cover of some of the scores. Other singers I remember include Donald Peers, Gracie Fields, Jack Hulbert (and his wife Cicely Courtneidge), Anne Shelton, Anna Neagle, and Barbara Lyon. Thanks to Youtube, I've been able to hear some of these people for the very first time. Great blog -- THANKS again! Dave in Victoria, BC

  2. I posted my usual daily bio about a celebrity, which in this case was Frankie Vaughan and decided to look about to see if anyone else was remembering his birthday.

    You can imagine my surprise when I found your wonderful blog via Google search. I had to have a double look. Talk about great minds think alike!

    Have had a great trawl through your excellent posts and have marked you as a favourite.



  3. Sly arts programe here has aired a delightful programe lasting 2 hours and exceptionaly well produced and edited .
    "Frankie Vaughn the Hear of A Man"
    As a former ocassional performer my self Bunny Thomas I met him only once in later years ...he was magnetic and charm personified .
    The Book "Sorry Darling Its Way Past Time" ( Google it ) by Thomas Bunn may be worth a flick through as a few older stars crop up within its pages like Dorothy Squires and others though the book is a tribute to my late partner Dennis ?Showbiz of any form past or present is a great distraction of joy through any age ..we must not forget those who may be dimly lit from the past as we all learned something from them
    Much joy to any one who reads my small contribution

  4. Recently I watched the Monroe movie, "Let's Make Love" and occurred to me that it was one of the few movies in which Marilyn's love interest (at the beginning of this movie, anyway), was played by someone her own age - and someone attractive, as well. I looked up Mr. Vaughan and became an instant fan. This is one of the many remarkable things about our recorded age. What is a memory to someone else, is something fresh and new to me. The U.S. really had no one who compared to Mr. Vaughan. There was Frank Sinatra, who was inaccessible, and whose bad boy behavior was attractive only at a distance. There is Steve Lawrence, who sings as beautifully, handles comedy, and appeals to an audience which admires his long marriage and his charitable works. But charisma? Star power? Not to equal Mr. Vaughan's. He is unique.

  5. You are therefore welcome, Kathleen.