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Published on Jun 15, 2012
Ronald Frankau (22 February 1894 - 11 September 1951) was an English comedian and musician from London who started in cabarets and made his way to old-time radio and movies.
In 1925 he started broadcasting saucy jokes on the radio in an Etonian tone for the BBC, but is actually better known these days for what he was never allowed to broadcast. Frankau recorded a number of songs and skits on Parlophone, some of which, like Winnie the Worm and Everyone's Got Sex Appeal For Someone, were banned altogether. Despite, or because of, this flavour in his songs, Frankau sold over 100,000 records in 1932.
Like most comedians, he often commented on the current events at the time, often in satire. Some of the songs he recorded regarding current events (the war, at that time) were ''Heil Hitler! Ja! Ja! Ja!'' and ''The Navy The Army and The Police''. Despite his dangerously naughty tones off the air, he was able to keep his jokes clean enough for some of the toughest censors of British broadcasting at the time, including Baron Reith.
He recorded for Parlophone betwen 1929 and 1940 and then moved over to HMV for 1940 to 1942. He was accompanied on the piano by Monte Crick on most of the records (who would later go on to star as Dan Archer in The Archers radio series).
In 1934 Frankau began a comedy duo with Tommy Handley that they called 'Murgatroyd and Winterbottom' which ran concurrently with his solo career until 1940 when Handley became too busy with his hit radio series ITMA to carry on the double act.
Frankau was married to the actress Renee Roberts (who did a double act for a while with Handleys' wife Jean Allistone as 'Mrs. Murgatroyd and Mrs. Winterbotttom' seperate from their husbands' act). The couple had two daughters, including actress Rosemary Frankau, who starred in 80s sitcom Terry & June as June's best friend Beattie.