Danny La Rue died on Sunday, 31 May after a short battle with prostate cancer. Born Daniel Patrick Carroll in 1927 in County Cork, Ireland, his father was a soldier in the IRA who also worked as a cabinet maker.
After the death of his father, when Danny was 18 months old, he and his mother moved to Soho, in London. As he famously said when doing a show in Cork, -œI left in shorts and came back in a frock.
Danny was a successful club owner, cabaret performer, TV and movie actor who became one of the highest paid and most popular performers in the UK during the 1970s. His career spanned 60 years. He made a fortune and he lost a fortune but the one thing he never lost was the love and respect of his audience.
Danny was a frequent and always popular visitor to Australia, accompanied most times by his pianist, Wayne King, a name that always got a laugh from the audience.
Danny, who preferred to be known as a -˜comic in a frock’, considered himself an actor rather than -˜just a drag queen.’ La Rue was the first man to play Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly and the first female impersonator to perform in drag before the Queen during a Royal Variety Performance.
Danny got his stage name indirectly from his friend Harry Secombe (The Goon Show). After seeing him perform, Secombe advised Danny not to give up his day job. A few months later Danny was to perform at a theatre in London and not wanting Secombe to know, he decided to call himself Danny Street but the name was already taken; so Danny La Rue was born.
As La Rue’s fame grew he opened his own nightclub in Mayfair in the 1960s and of course it was a hit, attracting the A-List at the time: the Snowdons, Barbara Windsor, and Shirley Bassey to name just a few.
When Danny’s long time partner and manager Jack Hanson died in 1984, Danny sank into a deep depression and drank heavily for almost a year, finally snapping out of it and getting back on the stage when it looked as if he was about to lose everything.
Danny died in Kent, aged 81, at the home he shared with his dress fitter of 30 years, Annie Galbraith, who had taken him in when he was once again in financial strife.