Professor Bill Dane - Tributes and Photographs.

Anything relevant

Professor Bill Dane - Tributes and Photographs.

Postby Andrew Clarkson » 29 Mar 2008, 18:47

I have received the sad news from Mark Poulton that Bill Dane has passed away. Bill had been ill for several weeks having caught pneumonia, which left him in Intensive Therapy at Warwick Hospital. He passed away peacefully on Tuesday evening (25th March 2008) with his family at his side.

His funeral will take place at 2.15pm on Thursday 10th April at The Oakley Wood Crematorium (near Lemington Spa, just off junction 13/14). If you require any further details please contact me.



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Image

I first met Bill when I was nine. After receiving a collection of puppets from a family friend, I wrote to various Puppeteers and Professors asking for help and advice. Bill was Aberystwyth's resident Punch and Judy man, performing daily shows in front of the bandstand. By chance my parent's had a caravan in Aberystwyth and during one of our family summer holidays I arranged to meet up with Bill for the afternoon to discover more about Punch. I ended up staying for my entire two weeks, watching Bill's shows, bottling for him and later becoming an apprentice (Mark Poulton had worked with Bill in a similar way the previous year). From this point on for several years, my family holidays were spent learning from Bill - and loving every minute!

Bill encouraged me to take up the show and brought me up to many of the Covent Garden meetings to introduce me to different performers. I used my share of the Easter bottle to buy a Ken Elworthy booth from Bill, which I still have parts of today. This really set me off into the world of Punch.

Bill was an amazing character; a true eccentric and this was more than reflected in his fast paced, quirky, 'off the cuff' show, which was always fresh, lively and topical. He packed many different puppets into his shows and every show was individual. What remained as a constant was Bill's professionalism, his superb manipulation and of course his showmanship.

He was able to change his show at the drop of a hat and the mass amount of puppets hanging at the ready in the booth were a great aid to his wacky sense of humour and his ability to ad lib. I recall one hot summer's day when a group of bikers turned up at the start of the show (there was some sort of motorbike festival taking place in Aberystwyth), a Police Officer came over to the side of the booth, looking quite pale and worried as the rowdy, slightly tipsy mob, started shouting and jeering. I stood there next to him, holding on to the bottle and trying not to lose my own. Within seconds, Franco (a punk puppet Bill had carved which sported a Mohican made from the bristles of a floor broom) popped up to be greeted by a round of applause from the gang (some of whom looked incredibly similar) and so the banter began. Bill now had the group completely engaged and one by one they sat themselves down on the 'magic carpet' and watched the complete show, which was now tailored towards the bikers. The Police Officer (now a lighter shade of pale) eventually joined them. I think Bill's Policeman received a couple of bonus 'thwacks' during this show and the jeers which greeted the beginning of the show had now transformed to cheers. This was the first time (and only time I recall) we received three ten pound notes in the bottle box - all from the bikers!

Bills' artistic and creative nature were carried through into his show, with beautiful hand stitched scenery and a unique style of carving which resulted in truly magical figures.

Image

Image

As well as Punch Bill had a great interest in Guignol and owned a fine collection of Guignol figures (which, together with his Punch collection have recently been on display at various museums across the country).
Image

Image

Bill was perhaps the pioneer of crafting and creating that 'special show' for Punch Professors at the Covent Garden meetings and he would often carve figures and devise challenging routines especially for such occasions. One such routine (which some may recall) involved two nuns and a coffin (a routine which I think was based on a Petrushka script). He was also very well known for having many puppets up at the same time; three crocodiles (each with their elaborate coloured wigs) and a Punch all somehow working remarkably well.


Bill led an amazing life and he had worked and lived all over the world. He was an expert in cattle breeding, a soldier, a dancer (he had danced in front of the King of Spain), and also a respected DJ - he ran his 'high energy disco' which he was somehow still getting away with at the age of 75. I think he took up Punch professionally in the late 1970's but had worked in the Theatre all of his life. He was a true Punch-man but was also a gifted story teller and would perform enchanting tales in front of the booth using puppets to tell such stories as Goldilocks, The Three Little Pigs and The Billy Goat's Gruff. These routines mesmerised toddlers and subsequently captivated audiences of all ages.

Image

Image

Image


I last saw Bill in December 2007, I think he was 85 years young, he had returned to Wales to sort out his puppet collection which was about to take residence at the Aberystwyth Museum. He had asked me to bring over one of the Guignol scripts which he wanted to cross reference. He was in good health and we laughed and talked Punch for a good eight hours. He was still keen to give me advice on Punch, on performing and indeed on life. Bill was a great believer in sayings, my favourites which he adhered to are:

Don't forget your friends on the way up as you'll need them on the way down.

Never believe your own publicity.

You are only as good as your last show.

Look after Punch and he will look after you.


I will always remember Bill, dressed in his black and white Captain's hat, marching up and down Aberystwyth Promenade 'barking' at the sun bathers to round up his customers for another of his fabulous shows.

Bill has been a massive influence on my life and the life of many others. His kindness, generosity and unique sense of humour made him a truly outstanding friend who will be greatly missed.

The world of Punch has lost another fine gentleman.

Thank you Bill for introducing me to Ol' Red Nose.

One last time then Bill:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls; roll up, roll up! Professor Bill Dane's Puppets' Punch Theatre is about to begin..."

Good Night and God Bless Professor Bill Dane.

Image

Andrew x
Last edited by Andrew Clarkson on 01 Apr 2008, 13:02, edited 4 times in total.
User avatar
Andrew Clarkson
Porky
Porky
 
Posts: 38
Joined: 13 Aug 2006, 10:50
Location: Chester

Bill Dane RIP.

Postby profpanic » 29 Mar 2008, 20:15

Sad news.Bill was a true punch eccentric and enthusiast and his death saddens me because I had not seen him for a good few years since he disappeared from Aberystwyth to go (I had thought) to south
Africa to sell "Welsh Black"cows . as I understood it he also had another life as "Bill the butcher".
He was a good friend ,if distant and erratic ,and when I lived on Plynlimon mountain he was the nearest "punch "neighbour", In the winters he used to suddenly erratically turn up at the remote derelict cottage I was then renovating ,and we would talk by candlelight deep into the night
about Punch and travelling.I think he saw me as one of the wildside punchmen and and wanted to join our (nonexistant) society.
He was a true Punchman,eccentric,independant,lonely,dedicated and erratic and irascable.I shall really miss his visits.
He had had a previous life as a "hoofer" or dancer.... and once told me that he had run a "stable" of strippers in soho... mind you after a bottle or two of the red wine he would arrive with we did tell each other a few stories. Rest in peace Bill .I m sorry I never did make you that copy of my "jimmy Shady" you asked for but the truth was I wanted to be the
only punchman with a "flasher"puppet,you did have a tendancy to make use of others ideas .Mind you as a punchman the greatest honour must be if you can introduce a character into the show that enters the stream.
Sleep well mate and thanks for the company.
User avatar
profpanic
Beefy
Beefy
 
Posts: 97
Joined: 12 Sep 2006, 10:00
Location: Llanidloes

Postby Chris » 29 Mar 2008, 21:08

Very sad news Andrew. I know you have known Bill since you were boy. We would welcome an obituary. Have you a picture?
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3197
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Postby Mark Poulton » 29 Mar 2008, 22:27

Sad news indeed.
I had some great times with Bill, he taught me a great deal and we laughed alot!
User avatar
Mark Poulton
Beefy
Beefy
 
Posts: 84
Joined: 11 Sep 2006, 15:39
Location: Paignton and Weymouth

Postby Chris » 01 Apr 2008, 20:16

Please not that Andy has added to his original posting with a very full and interesting tribute to Bill, with lots of photographs. Don't miss this.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3197
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Postby Andrew Clarkson » 17 Jun 2008, 15:48

A very nice article about Bill and lots of great photos can now be found by clicking:


http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/mid/sites/ab ... dane.shtml


Andrew
User avatar
Andrew Clarkson
Porky
Porky
 
Posts: 38
Joined: 13 Aug 2006, 10:50
Location: Chester


Return to Punch Chat

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 3 guests

cron