Dark side of Benny Hill – body left for days, assault claims and money phobia

He was one of Britain’s best-loved comedians, famous for being chased by scantily-clad women to the sound of Yakety Sax.

Now, as Daily Star revealed this week, Benny Hill is enjoying a revival in Spain, more than 30 years after his death.

Spaniards are flocking to watch repeats of The Benny Hill Show, and magazines have featured profiles on the Southampton-born funnyman.

READ MORE: Benny Hill’s amazing career set to be celebrated in West End show – Benny The Musical

But behind Hill’s cheeky grin lay a dark side which saw him accused of sexual assault, hoard his millions and die in squalor, his bloated body undiscovered for two days.

Born Alfred Hawthorne Hill in 1924, he worked at Woolworths and as a milkman before being called up to serve in the Army during World War Two.

On returning, he set out to carve a career in showbusiness and took the name Benny from his favourite comedian Jack Benny.

Hill started off in radio and London music halls until he got his big break MCing a BBC entertainment show.

That led to The Benny Hill Show, which launched in 1955 and featured short slapstick comedy sketches.

It became famous in the 1970s for double entendres and racy scenes featuring half-naked women and chase scenes.

Members of the Hill’s Angels troupe included Jane Leeves, who would later play Daphne Moon in Frasier.

The show became one of the most watched programmes on British TV, with audience figures of more than 21 million in 1971.

Celebrity fans included Michael Jackson, Clint Eastwood, Frank Sinatra and Charlie Chaplin. But behind the scenes, Hill was the subject of accusations about his sordid behaviour.

In October 1985, former Page Three girl Stefanie Martin accused him of forcing her to “perform” while he pleasured himself after promising her a speaking part in his show.

Responding to the allegation at the time, he said: “It wasn’t the way she made it sound at all.”

Hill’s Angel Nikki Critcher also later claimed she had to slap his face when he squeezed her breasts hard in rehearsal.

And in 2017, punk queen Hazel O’Connor claimed she was assaulted by Hill at his London flat in 1976.

Then an unknown 21-year-old, she said he told her he would only allow her to work as one of his Benny Hill girls in return for “sexual favours”.

And the 80s star claimed she had to push him off after he leapt on her as she tried to leave.

While there’s no suggestion any of the Benny Hill girls ever did this, Hazel said: “He kept showing me pictures of these sexy women who worked with him and saying how they ‘looked after him’.

"Eventually he said to me ‘Well, I need to know will you look after me too?’ I was disgusted and was getting ready to leave when he tried to snog me. I pushed him away and got out of there.”

Hill never married, despite proposing to several women who turned him down. According to pals, he felt unattractive to women and unloved.

The Benny Hill Show ran for 35 years and even became a hit in America but by the late 80s, the bawdy humour was starting to feel outdated and sexist.

In 1989, Hill was called in for a meeting with Thames Television, expecting to discuss new shows, but he was sacked.

The man responsible, John Howard Davies from Thames Television, explained: “Benny was all right when he was young, but when you’re in your 60s, it’s a slightly different matter to leer at a pretty girl.”

Hill never recovered from the shock and his health declined.

Despite getting the chop, the comedian made a fortune from the show and left more than £7million when he died.

But he had a phobia of spending money and never bought a home, preferring to rent flats in London.

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He never owned a car, he glued the soles of his shoes back on rather than buy a new pair, and patched up old clothes.

He bought cheap food at supermarkets and walked for miles rather than paying for a taxi.

When he died on April 20, 1992, his press agent Dennis Kirkland, who was contacted by neighbours who noticed a smell coming from the flat, found his body surrounded by dirty plates, glasses and papers.

He was slumped on the sofa in front of the TV after suffering a coronary thrombosis.

It was a miserable death for a man who for decades had made millions laugh.

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