Freddie Starr’s father was an alcoholic bare-knuckle boxer, who broke both his son’s legs on at least one occasion. As a result, the young star was put into care homes for a while, where he developed a taste for showbiz. He appeared as a child actor in films like Violent Playground with David Macallum before forming the Merseybeat act The Midniters. Produced by Joe Meek and managed by Brian Epstein, they failed to achieve the same fame as the other Liverpudlian group touring Germany in the early 60s.
It was in the late 60s that Starr broke through, relying more on comedy than music and by winning Opportunity Knocks in 1967. He made his name as an impressionist, and I’m sure his takes on Ray Charles and Adolf Hitler still hold up well today without any issues.
Of course, he’s most famous for the 1986 Sun headline “FREDDIE STARR ATE MY HAMSTER”, claiming that he’d devoured a living rodent between two slices of bread. Starr always denied the story, and being as a) he had been a vegetarian since his teenage years and b) his publicist was Max Clifford, you’re tempted to give him the benefit of the doubt.
More unwanted headlines followed in recent years after Starr was caught up in the Yewtree imbroglio, regarding an alleged incident on the set of Clunk Click with Jimmy Savile. He was eventually found not guilty, but his TV career was effectively over. This, combined with a string of failed marriages and well-publicised heart issues, meant he was never going to be long for this world.