Remembering Dickie Henderson

dickie henderson

Nige remembers a once hugely popular ‘comedian’…

This month sees the 127th edition of the Scarborough Cricket Festival… Ah the memories…Back in my boyhood days, I’d often be there, with my brother, neatly clad in our little sports jackets, enjoying the beautiful airy seaside ground, the comings and goings, the old geezers in white coats selling the Pink ‘Un, and whatever was going on on the field. Those were Yorkshire’s glory days – from the all-conquering Ray Illingworth team to Brian Close and the rise of a young bespectacled chap called Geoffrey Boycott – and the visitors always seemed to be having fun, cutting loose and giving it some welly. I remember seeing even the notoriously stroke-averse Australian Bill Lawry (‘the corpse with pads on’) whacking the ball all over the ground…

Sometimes the stars of the summer shows would drop in too. One I remember seeing is Dickie Henderson, a comedian and entertainer who is no doubt forgotten now by everyone but me and my brother. A short dapper chap, permatanned and nimble on his feet (he was a dancer as well), he was long on easy, not to say oily, charm and somewhat short on comic material.

He had a relaxed air and a mid-Atlantic accent that suggested rather more sophistication than he possessed – but at least the accent, unlike the similar drawl affected by his pal and frequent collaborator Bob Monkhouse, was earned. Dickie spent much of his childhood in Hollywood, where his father, rotund singer and dancer Dick Henderson (who made the first British recording of Tiptoe Through the Tulips), was touring in vaudeville.

As a child actor, young Dickie appeared in the film of Noel Coward’s Cavalcade, and, with Cicely Courtneidge and Max Miller, in Things Are Looking Up. He was being seriously considered for the young David in George

Cukor’s David Copperfield when his father hauled him back to Blighty. And there he was, a quarter of a century later, topping the bill at the Floral Hall, Scarborough, and enjoying the hospitality at the cricket ground. I may be wrong, but he looked like a man who hadn’t often said no to a drink.

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About Author Profile: Nige

Cravat-Wearer of the Year Nige, who, like Mr Kenneth Horne, prefers to remain anonymous, is a founder blogger of The Dabbler and has been a co-blogger on the Bryan Appleyard Thought Experiments blog. He is the sole blogger on Nigeness, and (for now) a wholly owned subsidiary of NigeCorp. His principal aim is to share various of life's pleasures.

4 thoughts on “Remembering Dickie Henderson

    julian malpas
    August 12, 2013 at 09:40

    In the 80s Dickie Henderson was often to be seen in a Marylebone bar in the company of a small dog (a miniature Schnauser?) and George Best, another ” man who hadn’t often said no to a drink.”

    August 12, 2013 at 10:00

    Well remembered Nige, the old remembering head is, it would appear, in fine fettle. I mostly recall the mohair suit (copied by many, including me) £17 in the fifty bob tailors bespoke dept. I say bespoke, for an extra ten bob they would remove the turn-ups. Henderson seemed not to have been in the queue when the bags of talent were handed out, this made him an ideal candidate for Sunday night at the London Palladium, a weekly event forced upon the viewing public by a fledgeling independent television company. It was described as hugely popular and would hurl at the audience many bastions of vor dem krieg talent such as Gracie Fields and Tommy Trinder, a singer who screeched and a comedian who wasn’t.

    Michael Smith
    August 12, 2013 at 22:21

    the comings and goings, the old geezers in white coats selling the Pink ‘Un

    This is exactly why Operation Yewtree was set up. Be brave Nige.

    August 13, 2013 at 10:21

    Ho ho – thanks for yr supportive words Michael…

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