Frankie Vaughan, CBE, DL (3 February 1928 – 17 September 1999) was was one of the greatest British performers of the mid-20th century. He successfully made the transition from the variety stage to films and television and has one of the most enviable histories of record making of the era. He was known as "Mr. Moonlight" after one of his early hits and issued more than 80 singles in his lifetime.
He was born Frank Abelson to a Jewish family in Devon Street, Liverpool, England. The name 'Vaughan' came from a grandmother whose first grandson he was, who used to call Frank 'my number one' grandson, in whose Russian accent 'one' sounded like 'Vaughan'.
In his early life, he was a member of the Lancaster Lads Club, a member group of the National Association of Boys' Clubs in the UK, and in his career he was a major contributor to the clubs, dedicating his monetary compensation from one song each year to them. He was an evacuee during World War II. He started out at the club intending to be a boxer. Then at age 14 he received a scholarship to the Lancaster College of Art, where he sang in the dance band. After a stint in the Royal Army Medical Corps in World War II (where he spent most of his time boxing) he returned to art school, this time at the Leeds College of Art. When he won a prize to design a furniture exhibition stand, he left for London, where he won second prize on a radio talent show.
Vaughan's career began in the late 1940s in the theatre doing variety song and dance acts. He was known as a fancy dresser, wearing top hat, bow tie, tails, and carrying a cane. In the 1950s he worked for a few years with the Nat Temple band, and after that period he then began making records, and was popular in the UK. In 1955, he recorded what was to become his trademark song, "Give Me the Moonlight, Give Me the Girl". His voice was also different from other pop singers. It wasn't just the chuckle, which, along with the kick, was always the right cue for the girls to scream. You couldn't miss the Liverpool twang - he put that city on the map long before the Beatles. But there was something else. Like his idol, Al Jolson, there was much of the music of the synagogue in Vaughan's voice.
He recorded a large number of songs that were covers of United States hit songs, including Perry Como's "Kewpie Doll," Jimmie Rodgers' "Kisses Sweeter than Wine," Boyd Bennett's "Seventeen" (also covered in the US by the Fontane Sisters), Jim Lowe's "The Green Door," and (with The Kaye Sisters), The Fleetwoods' "Come Softly to Me". From the 1950s through to the early 1960s, his recordings were popular in the UK. In 1956, his cover of "The Green Door" reached #2 in the UK Singles Chart. The same year he was voted 'Showbusiness Personality of the Year'. In early 1957, his version of "The Garden of Eden", reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart.
In 1961, Vaughan hit #1 in the UK again, with "Tower of Strength", but the rise of beat music eclipsed his chart career for two or three years, before he returned to the Top 10 in 1967 with "There Must Be A Way". Chart success eluded him after this although he did have two more Top 40 singles; "Nevertheless" and "So Tired".
Managed at this time by the former journalist and theatrical agent Paul Cave, he went to the United States in 1960 to make a movie with Marilyn Monroe, Let's Make Love, and was an actor in several other movies, but his recordings were never chart hits in the US. In 1961, Vaughan was on the bill at the Royal Variety Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, London.
During the 1960s, he became involved with youth social problems in Easterhouse, a large housing estate in the outskirts of Glasgow, and was influential in attracting new resources and inward investment to the area. A longtime member of the Grand Order of Water Rats, Vaughan became King Rat in 1968, a feat he followed up in 1998.
He sang the traditional hymn, "Abide With Me", at the 1973 FA Cup Final, won by Sunderland.
He continued performing until 1985, when he starred in a stage version of 42nd Street at Drury Lane in London, opposite his old friend Shani Wallis who appeared in their first film together, Ramsbottom Rides Again with Arthur Askey. After a year, he suffered a near fatal bout of peritonitis and had to leave the cast. According to the BBC obituary, Vaughan was married to Stella from 1951 to 1999 and they had three children and several grandchildren. He was created an OBE in 1965, a CBE in 1996, and as a resident of High Wycombe had been a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Buckinghamshire since 1993. He was an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.
He died from heart failure in Oxford in 1999, aged 71. The Frankie Vaughan Archive, consisting of sheet music, scores, orchestral and band parts, was donated to Liverpool John Moores University by his widow, Stella Vaughan, in the summer of 2000. (Info mainly Wikipedia)