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Obituary: Don Smoothey

Regularly seen on old-time variety bills and in summer shows and pantomime, comedian Don Smoothey reckoned that the high point of his career was his appearance in the 1982 Royal Variety Performance at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

In the show, staged before the Queen Mother, he took part in an excerpt of the Bud Flanagan/Chesney Allen musical Underneath the Arches, alongside Roy Hudd and Christopher Timothy.

His television career spanned 35 years and he worked hard for charity, serving as King Rat of the Grand Order of Water Rats in 2001.

At the age of 12, Smoothey attended the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, where his older brother, Len Lowe, was already a student.

His showbusiness career began when he was still a boy. In 1932, he appeared at the Holborn Empire in the children’s play Where the Rainbow Ends. A role in the Noel Coward spectacular Cavalcade at Drury Lane followed the same year.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Smoothey joined the army and entertained troops in a double act with Len Marten. In 1942, he became a member of Stars in Battledress, an organisation for entertainers who were also members of the armed forces.

On being demobbed, Smoothey returned to the variety stage and then joined The Gang’s All Here, masterminded by showman Ralph Reader.

In 1950, Smoothey teamed up with Lowe and, besides working in Britain, they toured Australia and New Zealand. Another double act – this time with Tommy Layton – followed.

Smoothey’s television work included The Good Old Days and appearances with Frankie Howerd, Billy Dainty and Charlie Chester. He was last seen in Upstairs Downstairs pastiche You Rang, M’Lord? in 1990.

Donald Ralph Smoothey was born in Fulham on April 11, 1919, and died on May 17, aged 96.

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