Born Charles Sprigall, 19 June 1925, London, England

The enormously popular British actor/comedian Charlie Drake is always instantly recognizable with his shock of red hair, diminutive 5 feet 1 inch frame and distinctive cockney voice. He became famous through television, in which he started (in 1954) as half of a children's TV slapstick duo. He became a great favourite with TV audiences with the catch phrase 'Hello my darlings'. It wasn't a great surprise that he should extend his comedy to records. In 1958, he hit the UK Top 10, outselling Bobby Darin with a cover version of "Splish Splash". He followed this with more chart entries, a comic version of "Volare", a cover of Larry Verne's "Mr. Custer" (heavily anglicised for the UK market) and "My Boomerang Won't Come Back" (1961), the latter co-written by Drake, in collaboration with Max Diamond. Released on United Artists in the USA, "My Boomerang Won't Come Back" was a surprise hit there, peaking at # 21 in Billboard in early 1962. With strong managerial backing from Colonel Bill Alexander and the producing talents of Parlophone's A&R man George Martin, Drake was in good hands and his comedy workouts translated well on to disc. Although he continued recording, acting commitments increasingly took precedence, although he did make a brief chart reappearance in 1972 with "Puckwudgie". His most recent appearances have been in fellow comedian Jim Davidson's "blue" pantomime, Sinderella.

Autobiography: Charlie Drake, Drake's Progress. London : Robson, 1986.

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