Benny Hill was one of England’s greatest icons and is recognised worldwide as one of the greatest comedians of the 20th Century. I thought it would be interesting to write the story of this famous icon from his birth in Southampton to his present day status as a great English Icon. If you get the chance to buy any of his DVD’s I highly reccommend watching his very funny shows.
He was born Alfred Hawthorn Hill in Southampton in January 21st 1925. It was his grandfather who introduced him to Burlesque Shows and the theatre from where the young Benny Hill was to draw much of his comic inspiration.
Charlie Chaplin who died in 1977, was a fan of Benny Hill’s work: Hill had discovered that Chaplin, his childhood idol, was a fan, when he was invited to Chaplin’s home in Switzerland by the Chaplin family and discovered that Chaplin had a collection of Benny Hill’s work on video. Benny Hill and Denis Kirkland were the first outside the family to be invited into Chaplin’s private study. Hill was awarded the Charlie Chaplin International Award for Comedy at the 1991 Festival of Comedy in Vevey, Switzerland.
Which he used to watch all the time. Charlie Chaplin’s son explained to Benny that he was his father’s favourite comedian, which he said later, was the proudest moment of his life.
After his national service with the army during WW2, Benny came to London, adopted the stage name Benny Hill (in homage to his all time favourite comedian Jack Benny) and began appearing in variety shows. He briefly formed a double act with Reg varney and did radio shows. But it was his talent for impressions and comic timing that were to give him his first big break on TV with the show “Hi There” in 1949.
Benny Hill appeared in the following Music, Shows and Films:
“Ernie The Fastest Milkman In The West”. No1 Record for Christmas 1971
“The Benny Hill Show” began in (1955)
Who Done it? (1956)
Hill’s audio recordings include Gather in the Mushroom (1961),
Pepys Diary (1961),
Transistor Radio (1961),
Harvest of Love (1963),
“Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (1965).
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
The Italian Job (1969),
a clip-show film spin-off of his early Thames shows (1969–73)
The Best Of Benny Hill (1974).
In 1979 “The Benny Hill Show” was shown in America for the first time and Benny went on to become one of the biggest stars on US TV.
He also appeared in the 1986 video of the song “Anything She Does” by the band Genesis.
The Benny Hill show itself has been seen in 109 countries and won a BAFTA as well as Golden Rose Of Montreaux Award.
In 1991 he was awarded the Charlie Chaplin Award for Contributions to Comedy.
Benny Hill’s TV career came to an end in 1989, when his show was dropped, but his popularity continued and he completed a US TV special, Benny Hill – Unseen (1991) (TV) shortly before his death in 1992.
When Benny Hill died in April 1992, his estate was worth an estimated £10 million. The only will Hill created left his estate to his parents who both died years ago. Next in line were his brother and sister, neither of whom he had a close relationship with, but like his parents are also dead. As a result, Hill’s estate was divided among his seven nieces and nephews.
My other website is called Directory of British Icons: http://fabprints.webs.com
The Chinese call Britain ‘The Island of Hero’s’ which I think sums up what we British are all about. We British are inquisitive and competitive and are always looking over the horizon to the next adventure and discovery.