I recently watched a wonderful documentary on an absolute star, Danny La Rue. He personified stardom and showbiz. His is an inspiring story which showcases what it takes to become a star, how to convert a dream into reality, how to stay there and how to carry on when it all goes pear-shaped. The character traits which made Danny La Rue a star are, however, needed by anyone who has a dream, regardless of the nature of that dream…to be a successful lawyer, to be a top sportsman, whatever the dream, in fact they are needed to propel all of us through life if we want to keep going even when times are tough.
Danny was born to be a star! It’s not enough, however, to just have a dream – there must also be a plan and the determination to make it happen. It won’t come to us, we have to go out to get it, we have to make it happen and Danny La Rue went out and got it!
When Danny was a kid, he had the dream and he pursued it with determination and focus and he didn’t exactly choose an easy road…dressing up as a woman in the 1940s! Comic innuendo but not sleazy, Danny La Rue was entertainment and glamour. He was a natural, he loved it, he made everyone around him happy, he was kind and generous and no doubt how he treated people when his name was up in lights was repaid to him in spades when the clouds blew overhead. ‘They’ say you should treat people well when you are on your way up because you never know who you’ll need when you are on the way down. Well, when times were tough for Danny later on in life, he had a huge safety net of love to cushion his fall.
Peter Elliott, the theatrical producer, says in the documentary that when Danny La Rue walked out onto the stage, you knew you were looking at a star. The biggest names in world entertainment, in showbiz and beyond flocked to his shows and loved to be in his company…Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Liberace, Noel Coward, even Princess Margaret! What an appetite for life and for living! I don’t know why he didn’t cross ‘the pond’ and take his show to Vegas. Maybe he did try, I don’t know. I’d have thought that Vegas would have lapped him up!!
Danny was one or those tough guys who are referred to in the line “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and he lived by the maxim “the show must go on”. When you are a star, when you are a celebrity, when you are a performer, it must be so difficult to carry on when you don’t feel like getting out of bed. When your work is in front of an audience, when you can’t work whilst hiding away in an office, it must be very difficult, When Danny lost his ‘partner’ after many, many years together, he was bereft but he carried on. Danny slapped on the face paint, slipped into one of his frocks and performed night after night for the audiences.
…and it never rains but it pours…Danny was ripped off in a business venture and lost the fortune he had built up over his career. Unfortunately, that coincided with his audience numbers falling but Danny had to keep working, he needed the money, he was determined to pay off the debts…smaller venues, smaller audiences, ‘panto’ but he was a trooper and he just got on with it.
Danny La Rue believed in himself. Danny believed he was a star (and he was!). Danny’s glass was always half full. His refusal to give up, that positive attitude and stoicism, his always getting up, dusting himself off and getting on with it when he was knocked, as well as his generosity and kindness which ensured that he was never abandoned, that he was loved and cared for, it cemented his place in the history of British entertainment as a star, a legend and a true success, not just in showbiz but in life and as a person.