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
Vaughan is survived by his wife Stella,
three children and a number of grandchildren.
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
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
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
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
In the late 1960s, he persuaded youth gangs
in Glasgow to give in their
``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
``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
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
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.