Final curtain for a South Yorkshire clubland legend

TONYMI''tony whyte
TONYMI''tony whyte
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IT WAS the final curtain call for a South Yorkshire clubland legend.

Friends, family and fans gave Tony Whyte a standing ovation as his coffin disappeared from view at the end of an emotional funeral service.

The former compere at 1970s Sheffield city centre nightspot the Fiesta Club was able to hold his audience to the end.

Hi-de-Hi star Paul Shane, one of many well-known faces in the congregation, said he had known the flamboyant Sheffield entertainer, who died a fortnight ago aged 84, for 45 years.

Mr Shane said: “In a nutshell he had talent.

“I can hear him now with his opening song Garden Of Eden. He was a real entertainer.

“He worked a lot with Lynne Perrie and they had a routine to the song There’s A Hole In My Bucket and they could make it last an hour. He was well known by everyone on the circuit.”

Bobby Knutt said he had first met Tony in 1965, shortly after he had entered showbusiness.

He said: “He always looked immaculate, like a tailor’s dummy. He had an immaculate physique too - he looked like a star, a face you’d remember.

“And Tony had a very good act. He could sing, he had the material and all the patter. Yes, he could be suggestive but it was always good honest fun. He could always make you laugh.”

Singer Susan St Clare said Tony always introduced her as his ‘daughter’.

She said: “I knew Tony for 30 years. He was great on stage, but he had an acid wit. If anyone heckled he would always have a comeback.

“He’d come to my home for meals and we’d be up till two or three in the morning talking. He always got plenty of attention but I always thought of him as a lonely man. He needed friends.”

The Reverend John Griffiths told the congregation at Barnsley Crematorium that while Tony was sometimes a Jekyll and Hyde character, he was also a stage artist to the very end.

He said: “Music was his real love. As a club entertainer he was famed for his witty and suggestive interpretations of well-known songs. He brought smiles to so many, many faces.”