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Frank Abelson
Frankie Vaughan
September 17, 1999
Age 71
Heart Ailment 
    
    
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  Frankie Vaughan, 'Mr. Moonlight' Of 1950s British Pop, Dies At 71

  

Frankie Vaughan, who had hit singles with such songs as "The Green Door" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine," died Friday at his home in the English town of High Wycombe. His death is thought to be related to cardiac problems with which he'd been plagued in recent years, including emergency heart surgery last May.   
     
In the 1950s in Britain, a time when the pop-music standard was carried chiefly by American artists, Liverpool-born crooner Frankie Vaughan enjoyed a string of home- grown hits. His smooth delivery mingled with rockabilly whooping made "The Green Door" a memorable chestnut that would later be revived by Shakin' Stevens and ghoul-punk band The Cramps. (He donated the royalties to "The Green Door" to the British Boys Clubs, which helped him as a teenager.) On such tracks as "The Garden Of Eden," Vaughan's  full-voiced tone brought a hint of British music-hall tradition to his pop stylings. His signature stage-attire was a top hat and cane.  
 
His other hits included "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" and "Give Me The Moonlight," the latter song bestowing on Vaughan the nickname "Mr. Moonlight." (The song "Mr. Moonlight," recorded by the Beatles on Beatles For Sale -- included on Beatles '65 in the U.S. -- was a 1962 song recorded by American act Dr. Feelgood and the Interns. Although it was probably not written with Vaughan in mind, the song's apparent reference to their fellow Liverpudlian would have been obvious to the Beatles.)  
    
Welsh pop idol Tom Jones paid tribute to Vaughan, telling the BBC, "Frankie was a star.  He came from the old school of entertainers."  Beginning in the 1950s, Vaughan also had an active movie career, appearing in a series of British films that included teen-exploitation picture Dangerous Youth, as well as his better-known movies The Lady Is A Square and The Heart Of A Man. (Both of which were themed with Vaughan as a succeeding- against-the-odds pop singer and featured supporting roles from newcomer Anthony Newley.) In the 1960s, Vaughan worked in Hollywood and appeared in American pictures The Right Approach and Let's Make Love, the hit 1960 comedy in which he co-starred with Marilyn Monroe, Yves Montand and Tony Randall.  
   
Vaughan was born Francis Abelson in Liverpool, England on Feb. 3, 1928, the grandson of Russian immigrants. While studying at the Leeds College Of Art, Vaughan entered and won a local crooning contest.  That victory launched his singing career on the British entertainment circuit -- and, later, in New York and Las Vegas as well. (It was his Russian grandmother's with that he be "number one" -- mispronounced as "number vorn" -- singer that led him to change his name to Vaughan.) He was voted Show usiness Personality Of The Year in 1957.  

Vaughan made news of a different sort in 1964, when he was appointed to a 1964 committee on juvenile delinquency. In 1968, he successfully negotiated a deal with gang members in Glasgow to turn in their weapons and accept an amnesty agreement.  

In the 1980s, Vaughan made his theatrical debut in London, in the Drury Lane production of the musical 42nd Street, where he played the role of the Broadway producer.  Unfortunately he was forced to leave the show in 1986 due to health problems. Dogged by ill health, Vaughan was close to death from peritonitis that year after ignoring the problem to keep up his performance schedule. He suffered a ruptured artery in 1992, requiring emergency surgery. He'd been out of the hospital for only four months when he died.  

Vaughan is survived by his wife Stella, three children and a number of grandchildren. 
  -- Drew Wheeler

    
      LONDON, Sept 17 (Reuters) - A 1950s matinee idol who once starred opposite  
    Marilyn Monroe, crooner Frankie Vaughan was remembered on Friday as a  
    compassionate entertainer unscathed by his brief brush with Hollywood.  

    Dubbed ``Mr. Moonlight'' after his hit song ``Give me the Moonlight'' and  
    rarely seen without his signature top hat and cane, Vaughan carved a  
    successful singing career in the 1950s with hit ballads including ``Green  
    Door'' and ``Garden of Eden.''  

    But the pinnacle of his career came in the 1960s when he wooed the world's  
    then most famous woman Marilyn Monroe in the 1960s hit film ``Let's make  
    love.''  

    Tributes poured in for the Liverpool-born Jewish performer after his death on  
    Friday following a long history of heart problems, with fellow entertainers  
    Terry Wogan and Bruce Forsyth praising a kindhearted, modest, charismatic  
    performer.  

    ALWAYS ONE OF THE BOYS  

    ``He was never one to act like a star. He was always one of the boys,'' said  
    television game show host Forsyth. ``He was just a very nice guy to work  
    with.''  

    Vaughan was renowned for his charity work, especially his support of boys'  
    social clubs, which he said kept him on the straight and narrow while living  
    as a refugee in Lancaster during World War Two.  

    In the late 1960s, he persuaded youth gangs in Glasgow to give in their  
    weapons.  

    ``He was a very simple man in the best sense of the world,'' said chatshow  
    host Wogan. ``Despite the fact that he had been starring in Hollywood  
    musicals, which was really unheard of for a British musical star. He was  
    completely unaffected.''  

    ``Hollywood with its bright lights never changed him inside.''  

    PLAGUED BY ILL HEALTH  

    Born Frank Abelson, Vaughan -- who took his stage name from his grandmother  
    -- was plagued with health problems in his latter years. He nearly died in  
    1986 from an inflamed abdomen, and later underwent a series of heart  
    operations.  

    However he continued to perform -- in the mid 1980s he starred in the West  
    End musical 42nd Street and more recently concentrated on cabaret  
    performances, television appearances and charity work.  

    Vaughan underwent emergency surgery in May, when he one of the major blood  
    vessels leading to his heart started leaking, and had been repeatedly  
    hospitalised in the run-up to his death.  

    He died at his home in Buckinghamshire in southern England on Friday morning  
    and was buried later in the day. He is survived by his wife Stella. 

 
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