Stars bid farewell to Danny La Rue

Stars  of stage and screen gathered at the Church of the Transfiguration in Kensal Rise, north London yesterday, for the funeral of comedian Danny La Rue.

The entertainer, whose  real name was  Daniel Patrick Carroll, died  at his home in Kent on  31 May. He was 81 and had been suffering from cancer.

Mourners included longtime companion Annie Galbraith, East Enders star Barbara Windsor,  comedians Ronnie Corbett , Barry Cryer, Roy Hudd and Joe Pasquale, and actress Vicki Michelle.  During the service,  Barbara Windor read a poem composed by his partner and manager for 32 years, Jack Hanson,  who died in 1984.

There were dozens of floral tributes, including white roses from Dame Judi Dench.  La Rue was famous for his impersonations of female stars, including Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Marlene Dietrich.

Born in Cork, his family moved to London when La Rue was nine. His father, died when he  was only 18 months old.

La Rue first donned his wig and eyelashes during a Navy concert party in Singapore at the end of the Second World War. He soon was performing  on London cabaret circuit, where he starred alongside Barbara Windsor.

In 1964 he opened his own nightclub in Hanover Square. La Rue appeared in dozens of TV shows, including The Good Old Days, Tonight With Danny La Rue and Royal Variety Performances. He was also one of Britain's most established panto dames.

La Rue made theatrical history by being the first man to play a female role in a major musical when he took on the part of Dolly in Hello Dolly!

He was the first female impersonator to appear at the Royal Variety Performance before the Queen and was awarded an OBE in 2002.  La Rue was named Theatre Personality of the Year in 1970 and Entertainer of the Decade in 1979.

Much loved by other entertainers, Noel Coward called him 'the most professional, the most witty and the most utterly charming man in the business', while Bob Hope hailed Danny as 'the most glamorous woman in the world'.

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