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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Oh Hellooooo" To A Familiar Face
The title of this book is rather ironic as it was forever his fate that upon his appearance on the the television sets and cinemas of this Country, Charles Hawtrey's presence would be met by someone in the audience saying, "It's him, what's his name? The fella' with the funny glasses!"

What this book draws out is how much Hawtrey wanted to be recognised as so...
Published on 20 May 2010 by ButteredToast

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad
I would agree with a previous review that this is not a substantial biography at all. Large print and many photocopies help swell the pages to be sure. I found it a light easy read however, and I learned a bit about this man who was an icon of the Carry On era. I'd have been happer to pay a fiver in paperback for this however, its overpriced for what it gives you!
Published on 3 Jan 2011 by Mr. D. A. Thornton


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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Oh Hellooooo" To A Familiar Face, 20 May 2010
This review is from: Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey (Hardcover)
The title of this book is rather ironic as it was forever his fate that upon his appearance on the the television sets and cinemas of this Country, Charles Hawtrey's presence would be met by someone in the audience saying, "It's him, what's his name? The fella' with the funny glasses!"

What this book draws out is how much Hawtrey wanted to be recognised as so much more, an actor, nay thespian, who would garner the same respect as Guinness or Gielgud. Hawtrey's bad luck was to be born with the Peter Pan quality of always looking like a school boy, and having the general 'weedy' demeanour that the Carry On films would take to their bosom and ultimately suffocate through typecasting.

This book does a great effort in bringing to life - or misery - the peculiar, weird and downright tragic life of a comedy genius. That he was quite megalomaniac right from the off in demanding top billing, even in his early days of radio broadcasting, supports the general view that has been held that Hawtrey was ultimately dropped from the Carry On series because his demands of top billing were getting more and more strident. Indeed, one thing that does come out is that Hawtrey never learnt when to keep quiet and not rock the boat, this was at a high cost to his career as many people in the 'business' grew tired of such behaviour, or were weary of hiring him.

Hawtrey's life is therefore revealed in all its many guises, from the early years detailing his many begging letters to the BBC, to the final years when we get to see the glorious pictures of a dishevelled Hawtrey (minus toupee) outside his burning house in Kent having just been rescued from certain death after a rent boy he was entertaining decided to ignite the abode because of some argument over payment.

In a way this book is the perfect complement to Mr Butter's previous biography on Kenneth Williams. Both were similar men in many ways, although Hawtrey was never the Pied Piper that Williams used to be on Carry On sets, both were to an extent coloured far too much by their mothers and it was the fate of these two giants of post-war British comedy to end up being celebrated - and forever ingrained on our conscience - for a film series they both hated artistically.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The sad story of a British comedy legend, 13 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey (Hardcover)
The first in-depth biography of Charles Hawtrey, this book has everything you'll want to know about the Carry On legend.

Not many people know he was a boy soprano and acted in movies since the silent days. He worked with Will Hay and had a distinguished career on BBC radio and the pre-war London stage.

But the Carry On films, though his greatest achievement, typecast him heavily and made him increasingly bitter, mainly because of disputes over billing and low wages.

In his personal life, he was ashamed of his working-class roots, looked after increasingly senile mother and, after her death and his dismissal from the Carry Ons for unrealibility, lived out the rest of his days as a drunken and unsociable mess in Deal.

A very good book but a very sad story about the man who'd only have to appear in a Carry On and utter "Ooh, hello!" to made the audiences who adord him laugh.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As comprehensive as it could be., 5 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey (Hardcover)
I enjoyed reading this book and I was impressed at the quality of the book itself and also the many photographs.
Some of the other reviews criticise the book for not being comprehensive enough but I believe that it is probably as comprehensive as it can be.

It seems that anyone who has ever had an association with Charles Hawtrey says that he was a very private individual and didn't give many interviews, didn't hang around or interact with fellow actors. I have listened to to most of the commentaries on the DVD compilation of the Carry On movies and most of the contributers, when questioned about Charles Hawtrey, say that he stayed apart from the rest of the cast and when he finished his work he just kind of disappeared.

It seems that Wes Butters has trawled the archives for absolutely any contribution he can find from anyone who ever interacted with Charles Hawtrey and I definitely think that I have a better understanding of the man having read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad, 3 Jan 2011
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Mr. D. A. Thornton (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey (Hardcover)
I would agree with a previous review that this is not a substantial biography at all. Large print and many photocopies help swell the pages to be sure. I found it a light easy read however, and I learned a bit about this man who was an icon of the Carry On era. I'd have been happer to pay a fiver in paperback for this however, its overpriced for what it gives you!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An undemanding read, 12 Aug 2010
This review is from: Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey (Hardcover)
This book is not a substantial biography by any means - it reads more like the folder for a radio profile that's been handed over to someone to re-hash as a book. I'm not trying to be mean to the author, who is clearly a fan and has obviously gone to some trouble to collect plenty of cuttings and, more importantly, conduct plenty of interviews, but there's no real analysis or reflection. It's a 'bright and breezy' survey of opinions, with quite a few amusing and/or disturbing anecdotes about the actor's off-stage antics. If you know little about Hawtrey, you'll benefit from reading this. If you want to know a great deal more about what made him tick, this will leave you dissatisfied.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last the full story of the engimatic Hawtrey, 22 May 2010
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R. Cope "cope2" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey (Hardcover)
Wes Butters proved his pedigree as a biographer with the excellent Kenneth Williams Unseen, but he really steps into top gear with this brilliant book about the enigmatic Charles Hawtrey. Hawtrey has been surrounded by myth and half truths simply due to the failure of the man himself to provide any real information in the public domain into his life. Butters counters this by talking to Hawtrey's small inner circle of friends and relatives as well as those who worked with him. A picture emerges of a man who failed to realise his own worth, not content with any form of shared billing, Hawtrey set about alienating co-stars and more importantly producers and directors. His slow decline into a world of secluded alcoholism is not unique, but still sad. Butters however imbues the book with such respect and admiration for the subject that we don't end up disliking the man, which is quite a skill as a writer given a lot of the excesses that are detailed so starkly by those who witnessed them. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. BUY IT, you won't be disappointed and the cover price is worth the rare array of photographs alone. Truly a masterful piece of writing and research.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Curates Egg..., 14 Sep 2010
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C. FULLER (Brixham, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey (Hardcover)
Although I found all the pictures, film details and the few theatrical posters etc of great interest I feel that you do not get a real insight into the man because the bulk of interviews are with those who worked with him later in his career. For me there is too much on his later and non productive years. Like many such books they are written too late when contemporaries are no longer around.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A British Treasure!, 7 Jun 2010
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This review is from: Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey (Hardcover)
Instantly recognised and loved by so many, this beautifully researched biography details the "highs" & "lows" of this actor so fondly remembered for his roles in "Carry Ons". Judging by the many fellow actors that knew and worked with him Hawtry was a deeply unhappy man who was tormented by his sexuality. The book is honest in deplicting this but also highlights the many people who loved and respected him. Having been a fan of British films all my life I found this long overdue tribute to Hawtry a fantastic read and would highly recommend to all lovers of this genre.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clap hands, here comes Charlie, 13 Aug 2010
This review is from: Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey (Hardcover)
I have been waiting to read this book for years. I once tried my hand at writing Hawtrey's biography but it came to nothing, mainly because it was too hard to find any new information. Butters is right when he says Hawtrey was "too secretive, reliably erratic and utterly disinterested in leaving any accurate account of his life" (p.242). When the Roger Lewis biography was announced I was incredibly excited and went to Waterstones the morning of its release. Well, like most, I thought it was some kind of joke. Even my crude attempt out-researched his. As far as I am concerned this is a definitive biography and can well believe it took Butters years to write.

Like his previous book, Kenneth Williams Unseen, Whatshisname allows those who knew Hawtrey to tell his story. This is a refreshing and somewhat unique style which I suspect has been born out of the author's background in radio. I've read it three times now - in fact it's here with me now - and every page has an interesting fact, anecdote, insight, from either Butters or the interviewee. (I'm still laughing about him exploding a can of baked beans!) It's incredibly easy to read; you can dip in and out of it. Most importantly, I think, it gives us as firsthand account as possible of Hawtrey's life and social circle. These interviews tell us so much about Hawtrey's psyche and personality. Comparing it to the Private Widdle biog, Butters is self-effacing and thoughtful in his text (not forgetting in the editing of his interviews), and certainly by the end of the book I found I was sympathetic to Hawtrey's plight and well-informed about his life.

It's also worth praising the unseen photographs (most Carry On biographies or documentaries tend to use the same images that we've all seen before) and the 40-odd pages of appendices which includes source notes, filmography and lists of TV, theatre and radio work.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sad Life Wasted, 26 Aug 2010
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Graham Kendall (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey (Hardcover)
Charles Hawtrey was a very funny man on screen, but quite the reverse in real life. This book explains why in entertaining detail without glossing over or over emphasising the true facts about this sad clown's lonely life.
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Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey
Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey by Wes Butters (Hardcover - 30 April 2010)
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