‘Poor Simon, he never gave up his conviction that he would get a second possibility at fame,’ said one of Simon Dee’s nearest companions at the point when I told her last night that Britain’s to start with TV chat-show legend had kicked the bucket at the age of 74.
For like Norma Desmond, the psychotic on-screen character from a past age in Nightfall Boulevard, Dee – in spite of a astounding fall from beauty – remained dressed what’s more, prepared for his close-up in the event that his star rose again.
‘He never gave up trust that a Cecil B. DeMille figure would show up on his doorstep what’s more, rediscover him,’ said Patricia Houlihan, who had remained steadfast to Dee since she worked on his exemplary 1967 visit show, Dee Time.
‘I cherished him. He was talentless, out of his depth, a fantasist, genuinely the to begin with individual well known for being famous,’ she recalled. ‘But he was the most fortunate man I’ve ever known – until his luckiness betrayed him, what’s more, never came back. Be that as it may he never halted considering like a star.’
His companion Roger Backhouse QC said that he kicked the bucket in healing facility close his one-bedroom level in Winchester, where he had lived alone for 15 years.
His daughter, Domino, said he was enduring from untreatable bone cancer, which had been analyzed as it were a maybe a couple weeks ago. There had been talk of moving him to a hospice, but, intensely sedated, he was as well slight to be moved.
One of Dee’s three sons, Taliesin Henty-Dodd, 32, said: ‘Dad adapted incredibly well what’s more, did not get irate or, on the other hand sharp at the point when he was analyzed with cancer. He kept the medical attendants in the healing facility interested what’s more, was grinning to the end.’
Simon Dee was conceived Cyril Nicholas Henty-Dodd, the scion of well off Lancashire cotton-mill owners. Concurring to a legend he once in a while denied, what’s more, once in a while gloated about, he was removed at the age of 14 from his father’s old school, Shrewsbury. Three a long time later, he was inquired to clear out Brighton College. ‘I was a insidious kid then, what’s more, I’m a devilish lech now,’ he once told me.
By his claim account, with just one O-level to his name, he moved toward becoming an actor, at that point a planner for Christian Dior, a at some point door-to-door vacuum more clean salesman, photographic colleague to Master Snowdon, what’s more, a espresso bar manager. He too served quickly in the RAF, what’s more, indeed more quickly worked as a radio moderator with the English Powers Broadcasting Service.
Somewhere along the way, he too hitched Berry ‘Bunny’ Cooper and, in 1963, created a child he named Simon. Continuously inclined to sensationalize his life, he too guaranteed to have been a dance club bouncer. In see of his thin construct what’s more, handsome, unscathed profile, his companions found this guarantee especially hard to swallow.
He was working as an bequest operator at the point when an old friend, Ronan O’Rahilly, welcomed him to move toward becoming a plate move on the privateer radio station – called Caroline, after President Kennedy’s little girl – that he was setting up on a dispatch moored in worldwide waters off the Essex coast.
He bounced at the chance, changed his name to Simon Dee what’s more, moved toward becoming an moment hit at the point when he presented the station on Easter Monday, 1964. Agreeing to Elizabeth Hurley, his flighty sweetness made him the motivation for Austin Powers.
Oh, behave: Dee with a pack of wonders in 1970
‘He was the soul of the age of the Sixties, which was all about sex, drugs what’s more, shake ‘n’ roll,’ said a previous girlfriend. ‘He carried on as in the event that he had divine rights to each woman.’
Women absolutely cherished him – and, it has to be said, men didn’t. Inevitably, it was the spouse of BBC maker Charge Cotton who brought him to the consideration of her spouse at the point when she saw Dee’s confront on a Smith’s Crisps advertisement.
Knowing Cotton was looking for a VIP to front a Johnny Carsontype talk show, she slammed the promotion on the table. ‘That’s your man,’ she told Cotton. The BBC assortment boss agreed.
Dee Time went on air in April 1967. It was an moment success. Unscripted, Dee Time had a wild what’s more, risky sense of spontaneity. Nothing like it had been seen
on English TV before, what’s more, 18million watchers tuned to his twice-weekly show.
Simon Dee, as the Radio Caroline DJ, presents the Radio Caroline To start with Birthday ‘Bell’ Grant to The Beatles at the Twickenham Film Studios in 1965
Before long, a few of the greatest Hollywood stars were queueing up to show up on it, what’s more, willing to acknowledge Dee’s terms.
It did not make him mainstream with a few stars, who respected him presumptuous what’s more, full of himself. John Cleese recollects him as ‘shallow what’s more, superficial’. On-screen character Laurence Harvey just expelled him as ‘a little sh**’.
Others accepted that the flexibility given to him by the BBC, what’s more, his pride what’s more, limit for self-destruction, had move toward becoming alarming. Yet he was steadfast to those he trusted. On one occasion, Zsa Zsa Gabor arrived with a shopping list of beautifying agents what’s more, adornments she arranged to talk about. Patricia Houlihan, working as his fixer, discreetly told her she would not be allowed to plug items on a BBC show.
Gabor was irate what’s more, requested Houlihan be let go on the spot. Gabor was a enormous star, a incredible upset for the show, yet Simon told her to get lost.
Sixties icon: Mr Dee is thought to be the motivation for Austin Powers (right)
‘He was extremely pleasant yet firm about it,’ said Houlihan. ‘ “You have to understand, Zsa Zsa, Houlihan is far more critical to this appear than you are. You are here today what’s more, gone tomorrow. Houlihan is my fixer what’s more, my friend. I can’t lose her. I trust you get it that? It’s nothing personal.”
‘I don’t think any other talk appear have would have done that, or, then again had the nerve to tell a star where to get off.’
On air, he regularly uncovered his sense of infallibility. Cautioned not to say Max Bygraves’s slander activity against a newspaper, it was his to begin with question to the star. ‘You’ve got a huge mouth, Simon,’ Bygraves growled, obviously furious.
Another time, he advertised Roger Moore a glass of water in the center of an interview. It was unadulterated vodka. ‘He thought it was hilarious,’ Moore said. ‘I didn’t.’
But Dee flourished on the show’s anarchy. On one occasion, Sammy Davis Junior, who said he wouldn’t show up on the show, arrived midway through the live communicate what’s more, begun giving out his sheet music to the shocked musicians.
‘Let’s do This Guy’s In Cherish With You,’ Davis announced, disregarding Dee. ‘One, two, three…’ ‘Simon cherished that kind of confusion – he was guzzling plentiful sums of cannabis at this time – yet it made us progressively nervous,’ said a BBC executive.
Favourite: Simon especially delighted in having Vincent Cost on his show
Eventually, Charge Cotton, the man who found what’s more, sustained him, had had enough. At the point when it came time to recharge Dee’s contract, he advertised him a significant pay cut. Dee was irate what’s more, joined London End of the week Television.
‘It wasn’t long some time recently LWT figured it out they had made a monstrous mistake. Dee was out of control. He was drinking what’s more, doing drugs. At the point when we grumbled about his behaviour, he said it was what kept him sane. On the off chance that that was sanity…’ reviewed one of the executives summoned to bring a few teach to the show.
He had his top pick guests, counting the Hollywood repulsiveness star Vincent Price. ‘Nobody knew that Simon enjoyed Cost essentially since he had meet abilities Simon was lacking – what’s more, could keep the meet going at the point when Simon lost the plot. There were a maybe a couple visitors like that, be that as it may after a while the trap developed transparent,’ said one of the show’s bookers.
In 1970, the TV organization scratched off the show, paid Dee – 9,000 pay what’s more, waved farewell – for good. Still Dee did not get the message. He proceeded to live extravagantly, keeping a driver what’s more, a secretary, what’s more, feasting in the best restaurants.
By the end of that year, he was marking on at London’s Fulham work exchange. Incapable to find another work in TV, he connected to move toward becoming a transport driver. Be that as it may he never qualified.
Although he had been hitched three times, what’s more, had four youngsters what’s more, four grandchildren, Patricia Houlihan accepts the last a long time of his life were exceptionally lonely. He proceeded to seek after women, that was in his DNA, be that as it may he progressed toward becoming progressively withdrawn what’s more, in the long run cleared out London for Hampshire.
‘He would regularly call me for telephone numbers of individuals he knew a long time ago, a few of them presently dead – he proceeded to treat me as his PA. It never happened to him that life had moved on,’ she said, sadly.