Fred Karno
Fred Karno

The official launch of a book highlighting a man behind the careers of some of the best-known figures in comedy will take place next month.

Lichfield author David Crump has rescheduled the launch of his biography of Fred Karno for 9th December.

Fred Karno – The Legend Behind the Laughter lifts the lid on the music Hal star who became an impresario who helped to launch the career of more than 2,000 comics including Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel.

David Crump
David Crump

“A genius on the stage, Karno also had a tortured private life and was notoriously difficult to work with, but his personal demons were far more complex than previous accounts suggest.

“Karno made millions but invested it badly, building an ill-fated hotel called Karsino at Tagg’s Island, near Hampton Court, which eventually led to his downfall.

“The First World War and competition from cinema sounded the death knell for his business empire and, despite some half-hearted attempts at making films, including a spell working with Laurel and Hardy in Hollywood, he ended his career a bankrupt.

“In his retirement he ran an off-licence in Poole, very literally down amongst the wines and spirits, and he died penniless and forgotten.”

David Crump

The book – published by Brewin Books – draws on previously undiscovered family archives, never before published photographs and personal letter.

For more details on the book launch, which will feature a talk by the author and a question and answer session, visit The Hub at St Mary’s website.