Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Tomahawk Press in London:
At last - the definitive biography of Charles Hawtrey!
From Wes Butters, Sony award winning broadcaster and author of "Kenneth
Williams Unseen", comes an extensively researched and compelling book
almost fifteen years in the making, featuring scores of exclusive interviews,
including Hawtrey's inner circle and surviving descendents, never-before-seen
photographs, and private documents and correspondence. The result is the first
definitive account of a life Hawtrey himself was keen to see evaporate into the
mist of history. Years before, Hawtrey started out as a child actor in silent
films, he was England's leading boy soprano and worked alongside a positive
who's who of the thirties and forties. He had directed films and produced West
End shows, starred in three hit TV series and was a prolific radio actor for
the BBC. Yet he was never content and spent his life desperately searching for
stardom and success, which, in his own deluded way of thinking, always failed
to live up to expectations. Like the character we see on the screen, Hawtrey
never grew up. Egged on by his mentally-ill mother, he disowned the rest of his
family, embarrassed by a background that included workhouses and illegitimacy.
Instead, he declared himself the son of Sir Charles Hawtrey, an illustrious
theatrical actor and Noel Coward's mentor. By the time the Carry Ons got going,
Hawtrey was well and truly typecast as a 'funny fella with glasses' and his bid
to be taken seriously was over. He wasn't the least bit interested in his
reputation or leaving a legacy, growing old disgracefully in Deal, the Kent
seaside town he lived in for the last twenty years of his life: collapsing in
pubs; swearing at autograph-hunting children; and, taking home teenage rent
boys (one of whom set fire to Hawtrey's cottage, with Hawtrey still inside it).
In 1988, doctors gave him a life or death choice to amputate both his legs.
Hawtrey refused, believing a transplant of pig's veins would save him, but he
died a month later. Nine people were at his funeral. Wes Butters' Radio 4
documentary on Charles Hawtrey will air in May. This long-awaited book gives
the whole story!