Gordon Mills must have been a smart businessman. He’s the music industry manager who looked after, and renamed, both Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck.
‘Tom Jones’ he plucked from a movie poster. The British soldier’s son, born Gerry Dorsey, got the name of a German opera composer. Mills knew what they should sing, too. “Gordon said, ‘Tom will be the rocker and you take the ballads’,” according to Humperdinck.
And so they did and still do. Engelbert Humperdinck has just, amazingly, released his 80th album, which features duets with, among others, Elton John, Dionne Warwick and Kenny Rogers.
When the old crooner wrote to Elton John, he answered quickly. “He wrote me a wonderful letter and, of course, being Elton, sent flowers. Orchids.” If Elton sends you orchids, says Michael Hodges in The Mail on Sunday, you’ve still got star attraction.
Humperdinck may no longer perform “under a hail of thrown knickers”, but he’s had “pull” ever since first singing Release Me at The London Palladium in 1967. “I was scared,” he says of the live broadcast. “I was shaking. I had six minutes to establish himself.”
Now he’s rich, with a fortune variously estimated at $90m, $150m and even $180m. As he says, “show business is two words”. His concerts sell out immediately and there is huge demand for merchandise, such as Engelbert teddy bears.
He has a house in Bel Air and an estate in what Hodges calls “the marginally less salubrious intersection of the A6 and the A563 outside Leicester”.
Now 77, he has two assistants, one of whom, Eddie O, walks him from dressing room to stage on show nights and keeps him away from crowded public spaces. “You have to have mystique,” says Humperdinck. “When I first came to Hollywood I was given advice by Lee.”
By Lee he means Liberace, whose drawl he imitates when quoting the advice: “If you want to be a star you can’t mingle. You can’t go to the swimming pool when the public are there, you’ve got to keep yourself away!”
He seems less able to keep away from England, returning whenever possible to his estate, which has a pub and a red telephone box. “I miss bitter,” he tells Hodges. “And cheese and onion crisps.” And he can find nothing that matches “lamb madras, pilau rice, poppadom and a chapati” from a Leicester curry house.
The PM’s diet fad
David Cameron is on a non-dairy diet, says Damian Thompson in The Daily Telegraph. “For example, he now pours almond milk – blissfully low in fat and calories – on his cereal.” We don’t know which cereal, but, according to friends, the PM can “make short work of a box of chocolate granola (though not always at breakfast or accompanied by milk)”.
But the “non-dairy thing” poses problems in the kitchen. “I baked a luscious Victoria sponge, missing out the cream but with a generous layer of jam,” says Thompson’s source. “And do you know what he said? ‘Like eating dry toast.’ Honestly, I’ll be glad when this diet malarkey is over.”
Tabloid money: how George Osborne cut back on his chins
• Before the Budget, Ed Miliband expressed concern about “hard-pressed” families and food banks in a TV interview outside his north London townhouse, says Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail.
“An ideal location in the circumstances? The property was bought in 2009 for £1.6m and estimated in 2012 to be worth £2.3m. Thanks to a subsequent London property boom it’s likely to be worth considerably more. No doubt Miliband’s concern for the poor is genuine, but with joint earnings estimated at over £330,000, what experience do he and his lawyer wife, Justine, have about the cost of living ‘crisis’ he goes on about?”
• “It cost £22m of your money to discover that British troops had been falsely accused of unlawfully killing 20 Iraqi prisoners after the Battle of Danny Boy in 2004,” says Tony Parsons in The Sun.
“One day we will have a public inquiry into why we have so many totally useless public inquiries that do nothing but harm our nation and stuff the pockets of ambulance-chasing lawyers.”
• “Ugandan-born benefits fraudster Ruth Nabuguzi cheated the British taxpayer out of £4m by claiming for 100 children she didn’t have and pretending to have HIV/AIDS so she could sell the expensive medicine in Africa at a vast profit,” says Jane Moore in The Sun.
“As I have to provide 48 squillion forms of official identification just to get a permit to park outside my house (on a road which, by the way, I already pay tax to use), I fail to see how someone can feign multiple non-existent children and a life-threatening disease for 20 years with no bloody questions asked. It defies belief.”
• Mr Osborne looked the part when giving his Budget speech, says The Sun. He’d had a decent haircut and there was no sign of a double chin, “thanks to his 5:2 diet of fasting for two days and eating normally for five”.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail’s Ephraim Hardcastle thinks Osborne’s bald patch has got smaller: “I am told it’s because [he uses] hair loss treatments ‘on a daily basis’.”