Benny Hill: The wealthy tight-fisted comedian who faced sexuality accusations and struggled with women

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
4 Min Read

Benny Hill, the wealthy comedian who counted his pennies, faced accusations of homosexuality and struggled to win over the fairer sex, has remained an enigma long after his death. A wealth of details continues to unfurl about the comedian whose antics on ‘The Benny Hill Show’ kept millions laughing for over three decades, revealing a life story far from comedic.

Benny Hill, despite accumulating significant wealth, was notoriously miserly. This man could buy any mansion in London, yet chose to rent a humble flat. He preferred patching and mending the same clothes rather than indulging in a shopping spree. His frugality was legendary – despite being licensed to drive, he never owned a car and would rather walk miles than shell out for a taxi unless someone else picked up the bill.

The Benny Hill Show was a huge success in the UK and US, which made Benny a multi-millionaire

His penny-pinching behaviour extended to his food habits too. Hill would haunt supermarkets for cheap food and discounts, reflecting a habit he learned from his parents. His only allowed luxury was travel, but even then, he chose to stay in modest accommodations, letting his frugality preside over his millionaire status.

While many admired his comedic genius, his love life was anything but a laughing matter. Despite proposing to several women, Hill faced rejection repeatedly. Close friends revealed that Hill considered himself unattractive and felt unloved by women. This rejection and loneliness only contributed to the rumours that Hill was gay, allegations that he persistently denied.

Interestingly, this man who felt unwanted in his homeland found solace in France, where he could enjoy anonymity and blend in with the locals. Despite his self-professed unattractiveness, Hill managed to charm local women while travelling on public transport and lounging in Marseille’s outdoor cafés.

Despite being a wealthy man, Hill was incredibly frugal

The latter years of his life were plagued with health issues. His refusal to undergo suggested treatments for a heart attack and kidney failure eventually led to his demise at his rented flat in 1992. But the eccentricities didn’t stop there. Even in death, he was the centre of controversy when grave robbers, believing Hill was buried with a significant amount of gold and jewellery, desecrated his coffin.

Benny Hill’s humour was bawdy, often criticised for being outdated and sexist. By the late 80s, audiences were beginning to tire of his risqué routines, and Thames Television, where he expected to discuss future shows, instead handed him his termination notice.

His career, however, spanned an impressive 35 years and even reached American shores. Despite his seemingly outdated humour, his comedic style and character’s lecherous nature remained a staple in British comedy. Hill’s love of slapstick and his speeded-up chase scenes are still imitated and celebrated today.

Behind the public comedy persona, there was an insecure and sad man

This legendary comedian’s legacy is a bag of contradictions. On the one hand, he was a comedic genius who had audiences in stitches with his unique brand of humour. On the other, he was a lonely, tight-fisted man struggling with accusations about his sexuality and facing constant rejection from women. Even in his final resting place, Hill continues to be a figure of controversy and speculation.

His life and career remain a testament to the fact that laughter and comedy can sometimes hide many personal struggles and insecurities. Benny Hill, the man behind the laugh track, remains a figure of intrigue, a character to be dissected, understood, and remembered.

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