FREDDIE STARR, LONDON, 1981
”I’m fed up of people shouting out ‘Did you eat that hamster, Freddie?’ Now I say, give me £1 and I’ll tell you. Then if they give me £1, I say ‘No’ and walk away.” – Freddie Starr
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Freddie Starr (born Frederick Leslie Fowell on 9 January 1943) is an English comedian who became famous in the early 1970s. He is also an impressionist and singer, with a chart album After the Laughter and UK Top 10 single, “It’s You”, in March 1974 to his credit.
Under his real name, he appeared as a teenager in the film Violent Playground in 1958. In the early 1960s, Starr was the lead singer of the Merseybeat pop group The Midnighters. The group was promoted by the manager of the Beatles, Brian Epstein, and was recorded on the Decca label by Joe Meek, the record producer of the single “Telstar”. During this period Starr performed in nightclubs in Hamburg and was an acquaintance of the Beatles.
Still relatively unknown to television audiences, Starr was “discovered” through the talent show, Opportunity Knocks where he appeared as part of comedy/beat act Freddie Starr and The Delmonts. He appeared on the 1970 Royal Variety Performance. From 1972, he was one of the main performers in the television series Who Do You Do and also a regular in Joker’s Wild. He went on to star in his own series.
Freddie Starr was the subject of one of the most famous British tabloid newspaper headlines. On 13 March 1986 The Sun carried as its main headline: FREDDIE STARR ATE MY HAMSTER. According to the text of the story, Starr had been staying at the home of Vince McCaffrey and his 23-year-old girlfriend Lea La Salle in Birchwood, Cheshire when the incident took place. Starr was claimed to have returned home from a performance at a Manchester nightclub in the early hours of the morning and demanded that Lea La Salle make him a sandwich. When she refused, he went into the kitchen and put her pet hamster Supersonic between two slices of bread and proceeded to eat it.