Freddie Starr will be remembered for his comedy career spanning five decades, his musical performances and his appearances on shows like Opportunity Knocks and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
But the comedian, who has died at the age of 76, will also be remembered for one of the most famous newspaper headlines in history.
On 13 March 1986, The Sun published a front page bearing the headline ‘Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster’, which followed Freddie around for his entire career – so much so, that he was forced to address the ridiculous tale on I’m A Celeb.
After entering the jungle in 2011, Freddie was asked about the incident by model Jessica Jane Clement, with Dougie Poynter joking: ‘I was too nervous to ask.’
Freddie said: ‘No, I’m a vegetarian. Some fella phoned up Max Clifford and said, “my girlfriend said Freddie Starr ate her hamster”.
‘He said “f*** that” and put the phone down. Then he said, “oh, there’s a story in that”, so he phoned his mate up at The Sun and said “someone’s been on the phone, this girl, and she’s a beauty queen’, so they went down and interviewed her, and she said I put it on two pieces of bread and ate it”.’
He later said in an interview: ‘I’m fed up of people shouting out “Did you eat that hamster, Freddie?” Now I say, give me £1 and I’ll tell you. Then if they give me £1, I say “No” and walk away.’
Publicist Max Clifford, who died in 2017 while in prison for eight counts of indecent assault on four girls and women between the ages of 15 and 19, admitted at the Leveson Inquiry in 2012 that he allowed the hamster story to run because it would drum up publicity for Starr’s tour.
Freddie’s death was confirmed last night by his manager on Facebook, with a post reading: ‘This is Freddie’s manager. Just to confirm Freddie has passed away. RIP to our greatest comedian of all time.’
He was reportedly found dead by a carer at his home in Costa Del Sol.
Police said: ‘We responded to a call this afternoon from the carer of a 76-year-old man in the Mijas area of the Costa del Sol.
‘The woman said she had found the man and she was looking after him because he had been ill and said she thought he could be dead.’
An autopsy is expected to take place in Malaga to rule out any criminal possibilities.
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