Clement-Jones family v2/21 - Person Sheet
Clement-Jones family v2/21 - Person Sheet
NameRonald FRANKAU, 10505
FatherArthur FRANKAU , 10499 (1849-1904)
MotherJulia DAVIS , 10500 (1859-1916)
ChildrenJohn , 10513
 Rosemary , 11972 (1933-)
 Roberta , 11976
Notes for Ronald FRANKAU
Ronald Frankau (22 February 1894 - 11 September 1951) was an English comedian and musician from London who started in cabarets and made his way to radio and films.


It is said that it was difficult to get much information about Frankau’s early life because, when asked about it, he would joke rather than divulge any personal information.

Frankau's father was Arthur Frankau, grandson of Joseph Frankau, a German Jew from Frankfurt who came to London in the late 1830s and started a cigar trading business. Arthur Frankau married Julia Davis, who was a celebrated novelist of satirical books. Some of the titles include Pigs in Clover and An Incomplete Etonian. This may account for Frankau's grasp of satire in his later work as a comedian.

Frankau's parents had four children, Gilbert, Jack, Ronald and Joan. Gilbert went into the family trading business until the war (living and working for a while in Germany), was a war poet and subsequently a novelist, while his daughter, Pamela Frankau, became a novelist too. Jack was killed leading his platoon in the 3rd Battle of Gaza in November 1917. Joan married the historian Stanley Bennett and, as a Cambridge don in her own right, Joan Bennett was one of the key defence witnesses in the Lady Chatterley trial of 1960.

Frankau had several children including TV producer John Frankau, father of Nicholas Frankau. He had two children with the actress Renee Roberts - Roberta and Rosemary. Rosemary Frankau pursued a career in acting, appearing in many series of the TV sitcom Terry and June, as June's best friend Beattie. Rosemary's son, Sam Bain, became a comedy writer and co-created the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show.

The Frankau family monument in Hampstead Cemetery is monumental in every sense of the word; Grade II listed by English Heritage in 1999, it commemorates Arthur and Julia Frankau and their three sons.

Early life

Frankau worked as a chorus boy at Daly's Theatre in London in 1911 and joined the army in 1914 to fight in World War I. During that time he continued his music and comedy ambitions, organizing his own concerts in Africa and the United Kingdom.

After the war he worked in night clubs and hotel lounges as an entertainer with both comical song and dance. It was then that he met performer Monte Crick, who would end up being his pianist in all his later recordings

In 1925, he started broadcasting saucy jokes on the radio in an Etonian tone for the BBC, but is actually better known these days for what he was never allowed to broadcast. Frankau recorded a number of songs and skits on Parlophone, some of which, like Winnie the Worm and Everyone’s Got Sex Appeal For Someone, were banned altogether. Despite, or because of, this flavour in his songs, Frankau sold over 100,000 records in 1932.

Like most comedians, he often commented on the current events at the time, often in satire. Some of the songs he recorded regarding current events (the war, at that time) were ‘’Heil Hitler! Ja! Ja! Ja!’’ and ‘’The Navy The Army and The Police’’. Despite his dangerously naughty tones off the air, he was able to keep his jokes clean enough for some of the toughest censors of British broadcasting at the time, including Baron Reith.

In 1934, Frankau began a comedy duo with Tommy Handley that they called 'Murgatroyd and Winterbottom'.

On 7 November 2006, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a review of one of his partnerships - "Mr Murgatroyd and Mr Winterbottom" - 'The story of Tommy Handley and Ronald Frankau, a comedy partnership which had its heyday in the 1930s world of radio. There was no straight man, so the partnership was a rare one. Tommy was a fast talking Liverpudlian, while Ronald in contrast was upper class and Eton-educated. Presented by Nicholas Frankau, actor and grandson of Ronald.'

Ronald Frankau died at Eastbourne on the Sussex coast - as had his father half a century before.


Frankau published a children’s book, Oh, Dear, Dear (Frederick Warne & Co., 1929), poems from which were also set to music by his pianist Monte Crick and released on Parlophone.

"If you'd like to hear a story of many years ago, Then gather round, good children, and I'll tell you all I know. It's all about a princess who couldn't quite behave, And how a naughty ogre took that princess to his cave, And how the little princess was rescued by a prince, And how they've been so very very happy ever since.

Extraordinary! Wonderful! Fascinating! Queer! Marvellous! Incredible! Oh dear, dear "
His other publications include Crazy Omnibus (Grayson & Grayson, 1933) and two Wartime books of morale-boosting humorous verse, both illustrated by Laurie Tayler and published in the early 1940s by Raphael Tuck & Sons: Diversion and He's a Perfect Little Gentleman, the Swine.
Last Modified 6 Jan 2013Created 11 Dec 2021 using Reunion for Macintosh