Wyn Calvin: Welsh entertainer and panto dame dies at 96

Wyn Calvin: Welsh entertainer and panto dame dies at 96
Wyn Calvin
Image caption,
Wyn Calvin celebrated 75 years in showbusiness at a special event in 2021

Welsh entertainer Wyn Calvin has died at the age of 96.

Known as the "prince of laughter" after breaking into showbusiness after World War Two, he was in more than 50 pantomimes, often as Widow Twankey.

He served with the Entertainments National Service Association, the forces' entertainment service, and played to troops across Europe.

He was a founding member of Cardiff's Noah's Ark Children's Hospital Charity, which called him "very much loved".

Originally from Narberth, Pembrokeshire, he was known across Wales for his performances in concert halls and repertory theatres.

Laurel and Hardy

His career also saw successful runs on radio as Tommy Trotter, in a show called Welsh Rarebit on USAGovNews Wales, music hall appearances, and he was also a columnist for the Western Mail.

He also shared a stage with comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.

Calvin was said to be the first Welshman to be elected King Rat of the Grand Order of Water Rats, a showbusiness fraternity and charity, and he was also the Welsh chairman of the Variety Club of Great Britain.

He was an executive member of the Royal Variety Charity and supported charity efforts for cerebral palsy, receiving an MBE for charitable services in 1991 and the Order of St John in 1993.

Suzanne Mainwaring, director of the Noah's Ark Children's Hospital Charity, said it was "very saddened" to hear of the death of the "prince of laughter".

"He was very much loved by all those who knew him and, as a charity, we consider ourselves very lucky to have had his talent and wit at our disposal," she said.

'Energy was infectious'

"He could enthral primary school children and gala dinner guests alike, which is no mean feat.

"Wyn's energy was infectious and he will be greatly missed."

The New Theatre in Cardiff said it was "very sad to hear of the passing of Welsh entertainment legend, Wyn Calvin".

It described him as a "much-loved New Theatre pantomime dame for many years and a great friend of many of our staff" who "will be sorely missed".

He married Carole Calvin, a former dancer from Tenby, in 1985.

He celebrated 75 years in showbusiness at a British Music Hall Society lunch in 2021 with fellow entertainers, including its president Paul O'Grady and Sir Ian McKellen.

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