Frankie Howerd


  1. Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, 1971.   Author  Roald Dahl’s s original choice to play his eccentric chocolatier was BBC radio Goon  Spike Milligan. Next? Spike’s co-Goon Peter Sellers was too expensive. LA’s choice, Joel Grey, was “not physically imposing enough.”  Ron Moody would have frightened the horses – and the kids. UK comic Howerd was booked into two film farces. Jon Pertwee was wed to Doctor Who. Carry On stars Sidney James and Kenneth Williams were as keen as (a way too old) Fred Astaire. One by one, all six Monty Pythons (John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Michael Palin) were judged not international enough – and Howerd, Milligan and Pertwee were ? Cleese, Idle and Palin were offered the 2005 re-hash; Chapman had died and Gilliam turned director.
  2. Karl Johnson, The Tempest,  1979.    During his 25 year dream about filming the Shakespeare play about the exiled Milanese Duke Prospero, UK director Michael Powell  saw his slave, Arial as being either male or female – Moira in the 50s, Mia Farrow or the veteran comic Howerd in the 70s. According to  Dominic Nolan in The Greatest Movies You’ll Never See book, Derek Jarman felt he’d inherited Powell’s obsession. Hah! He made a  (typically) homoerotic job of it in 1979.  With Arial (obviously) as a man again. But… “in a white jump suit and white makeup,” scorned New York Times critic Vincent Canby, “as if he were on his way to a mime performance.”
  3. Leslie Phillips, Carry On Columbus, 1992.    The 31st and final Carry On – same film, different titles! – tried various duos for the King and Queen of Spain. From Frankie Howerd-Joan Sims and Bernard Bresslaw-Barbara Windsor to the almost incestuous notion of the Terry and Junesitcom “sibliings,” Terry Scott-June Whitfield.  And, finally, June and Leslie Phillips (the most English of Spanish monarchs). Howerd died before filming began and Windsor  – the Carry Ons’ Marilyn – said the script was crap. It was – and the cast hated it. . In 2004, this was was voted – by UK film pros – as the worst British film ever made. Yet it made more money in Britain than the straight versions:1492: The Conquest iof Paradiseand Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, 1992, starring such heavyweights as Depardieu and Brando!   

 Birth year: 1917Death year: 1992Other name: Casting Calls:  3