British singer, actor Tommy Steele

Cockney dynamo tommy steele sang and danced his way to Broadway and Hollywood fame in the 1950s and '60s. (He was the only Brit to trip the light fantastic with both Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire.)

While on naval duty in America, a teenage Mr. Steele fell in love with rock 'n' roll and longed to be a pop star. Back home, he began performing in a tony London cafe. Soon the crooner with the pompadour and sultry eyes was being marketed as "England's Elvis" - though the two sounded nothing alike.

His first songs, "Rock With the Caveman" and "Singing the Blues," were hits, but his subsequent efforts were not.

Steele then jump-started a musical-comedy career, first on Broadway ("Half a Sixpence," 1963-65), then in Hollywood with the film version in 1967 and "Finian's Rainbow" the following year.

Steele is still active. He has been touring the United Kingdom with his one-man "What a Show," which ran a record 14 months in London. He has acted in other London shows, including "Singin' in the Rain."

If you wonder 'Whatever happened to...' write us at: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail: whatever@csmonitor.com

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