World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Billy Dainty

Article Id: WHEBN0006512027
Reproduction Date:

Title: Billy Dainty  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: People from Dudley, English dancers, The Framley Examiner, Tickle on the Tum, Seaside Special
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Billy Dainty

William Hooper Frank John (Billy) Dainty (22 February 1927 – 19 November 1986) was a British comedian, dancer, physical comedian and pantomime and television star.

Dainty was born in Wolverhampton Street, Dudley, Worcestershire. His father kept a shop at the front of the family home. He made his stage debut as the only boy dancer in a troupe of girls. Later, his family moved to London, where the young Billy received tap-dancing lessons from the American-born hoofer Buddy Bradley. He then won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where he trained as a comedian. From childhood he had the ambition to be a professional dancer, but he became well known for the funny walks which formed part of his well-loved comedy act.

In 1942 at the age of 15, he made his stage debut in the pantomime Mother Goose, starring Norman Evans and Patricia Burke, where he played the back end of a dancing pantomime donkey called "Asbestos". His next part was as a chorus boy in Strike a New Note at the Prince of Wales Theatre, with Sid Field and Jerry Desmonde, along with the newly formed pairing of Morecambe and Wise.

Called up for national service in 1945, he toured the Far East with the Stars in Battledress for two years. His first work after the war was in a show called Gaytime in Torquay. He spent the next two decades in variety theatre, before getting his TV break on Sunday Night at the London Palladium in the late 1950s.[1]

Dainty's repertoire of silly walks was unrivalled at the time. He could travel down the stage on his left foot, with his right leg raised throughout. He was also known for his impersonations of fellow stars, including parodies of Shirley Bassey, Fred Astaire and a ballet dancer, whom he called Rudolph Nearenough, based loosely on Rudolph Nureyev. He embodied the authentic, original and exuberant spirit of the old style music hall tradition; the theatre was his domain – although he also successfully moved into television. He was notably successful in Royal Variety Shows and was reputed to be a particular favourite of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Although he was described as looking like a 'plumber's mate', he was in fact an extraordinarily skilled dancer; his nimble footwork and bursts of physical activity always surprised and delighted his audience.

After appearing in over a dozen pantomimes, often in unremarkable or unfulfilling roles, Dainty was finally persuaded, in 1964, to play the Pantomime dame opposite Harry Worth's Old King Cole at the Bristol Hippodrome, where he was hailed a huge success. He also played the dame at the London Palladium in Dick Whittington with the then rising star Tommy Steele. He was proclaimed as "one of the last of the genuine music-hall performers" and as "one of the outstanding artists of his generation".

In 1975, he had his own Thames Television series Billy Dainty, Esq.[2] Between 1975 and 1980 he starred with Rod Hull and Emu, in Emu's Broadcasting Company on BBC1.[3] Dainty also had a large following of radio listeners, who tuned-in to his shows, including Stick a Geranium in Your Hat.

On 14 January 1979, Dainty taped a guest spot on Star Turn, a BBC children's programme, on which one of the other guests was Kenneth Williams. In that day's entry in The Kenneth Williams Diaries, Dainty is referred to as "a terrible provincial comic".[4] Ironically, after reading Dainty's obituary in the newspaper following his death, Williams said: "He was a delight. A warm and kind-hearted man with humour and an extraordinary gift for the delicate and deft touch in comedy".[4]

Throughout this time, his pantomime career blossomed. But halfway through the next decade he had to pull out of Aladdin in Nottingham because of poor health.[1]

He died on 19 November 1986, aged 59, of prostate cancer at his home Cobblers in Godalming, Surrey. To some, he had been a family favourite for more than 30 years.

Dainty had been married and had one son.

References

  1. ^ a b Local history article on Billy Dainty
  2. ^ BBC Comedy Guide on Billy Dainty
  3. ^ "EBC1: Emu's Broadcasting Company" (1975)
  4. ^ a b The Kenneth Williams Diaries, edited by Russell Davies, published 1993 by Harper Collins

External links

  • It's Behind You - Billy Dainty section of Pantomime Dame tribute site
  • Billy Dainty at the Internet Movie Database
  • Billy Dainty dance number as Mr Pastry on YouTube
  • Billy on The Good Old Days 1980 on YouTube
  • Billy Dainty funny dancing on YouTube

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.