Frank worked at Hebburn Colliery
Posted by Norman Dunn on October 12, 2020, 7:51 am, in reply to "N. Country Comedian to Retire..."
I dont believe Frank worked at Houghton Colliery. He definitely worked in Hebburn Colliery. |
Here is what I have in my records.
His real name was Francis Ernest Kane and he was one of a family of 12. Frank had the gift of making people laugh from an early age and was spotted giving concerts in aid of Miners' Relief Funds. Frank was a former pupil of St Aloysius School in Hebburn, when he appeared in a performance of Robin Hood where he played the part of Friar Tuck.
Working down Hebburn Pit, he made the other miners laugh so much that a pit official called Bill Franks told his mother that Frankie should go on stage. And he did, changing his name to Frank E. Franks in gratitude for the pit official’s kindness. I was told in 2007 by 88 yr old Hebburn man Jimmy Grey, a resident in Bedewell Care Home that Frankie was on the point of being sacked due to his timekeeping which was probably because he was too busy part time entertaining. So the supportive official suggested he leave the Pit and take up a career as an entertainer otherwise the Pit manager may have to sack him.
Frank joined up for the 1914-18 War and became director of theatre entertainments for the Second Army in France. He was great in pantomime and reigned king of the pantomime world at Stockton's Globe Theatre, inviting hundreds of poor children to free shows.
Frank married the Panto’s principal boy, a blonde girl called Jean Boyne who he’d been in revue with back in 1918, and married two years later at Newcastle's St. Mary's Cathedral.
In a career spanning 60 years, he became one of the country's top comedians, rivalling such stars as Arthur Askey, Wee Georgie Wood, Jimmy James and Jimmy Logan. Even at the age of 75, he accepted a 20 week engagement to perform at selected clubs in the north east.
He played in two Royal Command Performances, including several films and played in every major theatre in London.
This was a long way from his first professional debut at the Imperial Cinema, a small converted cinema in Bill Quay.