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Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Ventriloquist Neville King dies, aged 81Wednesday, August 26, 2009, 07:00

POPULAR Notts ventriloquist and Royal Variety Show performer Neville King has died at 81.

He performed on stage and screen at the height of his fame and was a regular on the Black and White Minstrels show in the 1960s.

The Notts-born performer delighted audiences across the country with his act featuring his dummy Old Boy.Brian Hart, who worked as Mr King's showbusiness agent for 20 years, paid tribute to his friend.He said: "I hated artists because they are a horrible lot, apart from Neville King. He was a lovely guy."

If you were a friend of his, you were a friend. He was a very funny man, both on and off-stage."Fellow performer Jimmy Willan, said Mr King, of Cropwell Butler, would be a "sad loss".

He said: "He had this routine with the dummy which was ideal for the television but he could do other things."

He was a true variety performer of a very high standard."

Mr King died on Saturday at City Hospital a month after being admitted after a stroke.

While in hospital he received letters from showbusiness friends Jimmy Tarbuck and Tom O'Connor.

Wife Joanie said: "He had all the staff laughing right up to the very end. He was a very naturally funny man."

He always used to say you should have a laugh every day and he never lost his ability to entertain and be funny."

Mr King is said to have started his career in ventriloquism as a youngster living in Radford after begging his parents for a baby brother.

His father bought him a ventriloquist' s dummy and he applied himself to learning how to throw his voice.

He made his first public appearance at a Methodist church harvest festival where he sang accompanied by a Charlie McCarthy doll.

He and then-wife June got their inspiration for the famed Old Boy dummy from a "boozy old man" they met outside a Sheffield pub.

In 1964 he joined The Black and White Minstrel Show and stayed for 11 years. He also did a season in Malta as well as a record breaking tour of Australia during this period.

In 1965 he appeared before the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Variety Performance. Two years later he was back at the London Palladium in front of Princess Margaret at the Royal Gala.

Mr King entertained the troops for Combined Services Entertainments in Ireland, South America, Cyprus and Germany. He did five world tours and worked in Johannesburg, Canada, Malta and Tasmania as well as at the Sporting Club in Monte Carlo.

The-father-of- one was still performing as recently as November 2007, when he appeared in an Equity show for the Salvation Army in Beeston.

In 1993 he collected 120 names for a petition calling for private security patrols to beat crime in Cropwell

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