Max Bygraves

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Max Bygraves OBE (born 16 October 1922 in Rotherhithe, London as Walter William Bygraves) is an English comedian, singer, actor and variety performer. He appeared on his own television shows, sometimes performing comedy sketches between songs. Shows he presented included the gameshow Family Fortunes.

Contents

Life

Max Bygraves was the son of poor parents in southeast London docklands. His father was a professional boxer known as Battling Tom Smith, and a casual dockworker.[1] Max went to St. Joseph's Primary School in Rotherhithe. He showed talent as a child singer and performed a solo in Westminster Cathedral. He left school at 14 to become a messenger for W. S. Crawford, an advertising agency in High Holborn. When World War Two broke out, the advertising business collapsed and Max learnt the trade of a carpenter and then volunteered for the RAF. His impression of Max Miller earned him the nickname Max from other airmen. He was increasingly called upon to perform in concert parties wherever he was posted. He married WAAF sergeant Blossom Murray in 1942.

After the war the BBC asked him to perform in a demobilisation show called They're Out with other wartime new talent such as Frankie Howerd, Benny Hill, Jimmy Edwards, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan. This opened the way to a career in light entertainment. In 1951 he appeared at the London Palladium. Comedian Eric Sykes became his scriptwriter. He got the part of the tutor in the BBC radio comedy show Educating Archie, where Archie was a ventriloquist's dummy. This made his name nationally and he appeared in a Royal Variety Show. Judy Garland invited him to support her for a season in New York.

He acted in several films, notably as Charley Moon in the film of the same name.

He was awarded the OBE in 1982.

For many years Max, his wife, and his son Anthony lived in the Alum Chine area of Bournemouth. Whilst living there he noticed a guest house named "LingaLonga" and from this got the idea for his series of "SingaLonga" albums.

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