Frankie Vaughan (1928-1999)
Frankie Vaughan with his famous top hat and cane
Frankie Vaughan was born Frankie Ableson in Liverpool on 3 February 1928. A popular singer in the 1950s and 1960s he is perhaps best known for his part in the film 'Lets Make Love' starring Marilyn Monroe in 1961. He is also renowned for his involvement in the troubled Glasgow area of Easterhouse, where he persuaded local gangs to lay down their weapons and helped them build a peaceful youth club, which flourishes to this day.
Frankie spent his early childhood in Liverpool. His father owned an upholsterer's shop on Lodge Lane and his mother worked as a seamstress. He attended Prescot Street School, Harrison-Jones School and was a member of the choir at the synagogue on Princes Road before the family were evacuated to Lancaster during the Second World War.
He left school at 14 after winning a scholarship to the Lancaster College of Art and he continued his studies in Leeds when the family moved there to go into the timber business. Frankie made his stage debut singing at the Leeds Empire and was spotted by a producer from the BBC who advised him to turn professional. Until then Frankie had been pursuing an unsuccessful career as an art teacher and commercial artist.
His big break came in 1951 when he got a chance to perform at the Kingston Empire for impresario Bernard Delfont. Frankie was a huge hit and was immediately hired for a tour with the Hetty King show. A recording contract with HMV came later and over the next two years he had 29 chart entries including two number ones.
Frankie played the Liverpool Empire in May 1957. the same year he toured America, made his first film, 'These Dangerous Years', set in his home city, and was named Showbusiness Personality of the Year. He went on to make four more films and would have been a major movie star if he had been prepared to move to America.
Frankie was a life long supporter of Boys Clubs and their work with young people, eventually becoming vice-president of the National Association of Clubs for Young People. He was awarded an OBE in 1965 and a CBE in 1997 for his work.
Frankie Vaughan (2nd from right on back row) with his family at a friend's house