Partner Dennis Heymer, buried together
53 Hartoft St, York YO10 4BN, Regno Unito
45 Tooley St, London SE1, Regno Unito
19 Arbroath Rd, London SE9 6RR, Regno Unito
46 Brook St, Mayfair, London W1K, Regno Unito
6 Holland Villas Rd, Kensington, London W14 8BP, Regno Unito
130 Uxbridge Rd, White City, London W12 8AA, Regno Unito
The Bayswater Institute, 9 Orme Ct, London W2 4RL, Regno Unito
27 Edwardes Square, Kensington, London W8 6HH, Regno Unito
Wavering Down, Webbington Rd, Cross, Axbridge BS26 2EL, Regno Unito
St Gregory, Sparrow Hill, Weare BS26 2LE, Regno Unito
Francis Alick "Frankie" Howerd, OBE (6 March 1917 – 19 April 1992) was an English comedian and comic actor whose career, described by fellow comedian Barry Cryer as "a series of comebacks", spanned six decades.
Throughout his career, Howerd hid his potentially career-destroying homosexuality (acts between consenting males being illegal in England and Wales until 1967) from both his audience and his mother, Edith. In 1958, he met wine waiter Dennis Heymer at the Dorchester Hotel while dining with Sir John Mills; Howerd was 40 and Heymer was 28. Heymer became his lover as well as manager, and stayed with him for more than thirty years, until Howerd's death, with Heymer helping to revive Howerd's flagging career in the 1960s. However, the two had to remain discreet as Howerd feared being blackmailed if anyone beyond his immediate circle found out. The relationship was explored in 2008 in a drama for BBC Four, Rather You Than Me, starring David Walliams and Rafe Spall.
Backstage, Howerd was notoriously bold in his advances, and was known for his promiscuity. One of Howerd's former boyfriends was comic actor Lee Young who created the TV sitcom Whoops Baghdad (1973) for him. Howerd's uncomfortable relationship with his sexuality – he once said to Cilla Black, "I wish to God I wasn't gay" – as well as his depressive mental state, led him to seek resolution through a series of different methods. Heymer would often drop Howerd off on Friday at his psychiatrist, who would ply him with LSD over the weekend. This experience was later the subject of the March 2015 BBC Radio 4 drama Frankie Takes a Trip.
In his early career Howerd suffered from a stutter, which caused him some distress. Close friend Cilla Black said in 2008: "That devastated him" adding, "Often he'd be physically ill with stage fright."
Howerd and Heymer lived for the last twenty or so years of his life in Wavering Down, a house in the village of Cross, Somerset, under the Mendip Hills. After Howerd's death, Heymer curated Howerd's collection of memorabilia until his own death in 2009.
Having contracted a virus during a Christmas trip up the Amazon River in 1991, Howerd suffered respiratory problems at the beginning of April 1992 and was rushed to a clinic in London's Harley Street, but was discharged at Easter to enjoy his last few days at home. He collapsed and died of heart failure two weeks afterwards, on the morning of 19 April 1992, aged 75. Two hours before he died, he was speaking on the telephone to his TV producer about new ideas for his next show.
Howerd died the day before fellow comedian Benny Hill. News of the two deaths broke almost simultaneously and some newspapers ran an obituary of Howerd in which Hill was quoted as regretting Howerd's death, saying "We were great, great friends". The quote was released by Hill's agent, who was not aware that his client had died.
Howerd's grave is at St. Gregory's Church in Weare, Somerset. Heymer was later buried near him.