Showbiz star won talent contests at Winter Gardens
PUBLISHED: 18:00 08 September 2012
A POPULAR entertainer who died this week at the age of 89 won some of his first talent shows in Weston, the Mercury can reveal.
Singer, comedian and TV quiz show host Max Bygraves served as a fitter in the RAF in World War Two, after leaving school in London at the age of 14.
The showbiz star, who was born Walter Bygraves, changed his name to Max in honour of comedian Max Miller.
Max was serving at RAF Locking in 1945 when he won a talent show at the Odeon and was noticed by Weston entertainment manager Isaac Davies, who helped kick-start his career. He then went on to win more talent competitions in the town’s Winter Gardens.
After his time with the RAF Max began touring the club circuit and rose quickly to success. With roles in film, stage appearances and radio shows, the comedian became a millionaire by the age of 38, a far cry from the two-room council flat which he shared with his parents and five siblings.
Known for his catchphrase ‘I wanna tell you a story,’ Max’s career spanned five decades and included 19 Royal Variety performances.
Max enjoyed a 69-year marriage with his wartime sweetheart Gladys ‘Blossom’ Murray, whom he had three children with. He also had three more children with three other women.
Max died on August 31 at his daughter’s house in Queensland, Australia. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.