The woman at the heart of the notorious 1986 “Freddie Starr ate my hamster” headline has revealed the truth behind the story that went on to define the comedian.
Former model Louise Fox spoke out as a post-mortem confirmed that Starr, who was discovered by a carer at his home in Spain on Thursday, died of heart disease.
Fox, who was a good friend of Starr’s in the 1980s, told Leicestershire Live what really happened with her hamster, Sonic, saying the real version of events had been “misconstrued”.
She explained: “He had the hamster in the sandwich but nobody ever said he ate it.
“There was nobody more shocked than me when that headline came out.”
Ms Fox, who now lives in Leicestershire, said Starr had been staying at her home in Liverpool at the time, and had complained about being hungry, so she told him to make himself a sandwich.
“So he just went and got two big slices of bread, doorstop things, and buttered them and when he sat down on the settee he had the hamster between them,” she said.
“He did bite into the bread, but not the hamster.
“I was upset because the hamster was covered in butter, which took two days for it to lick off.”
It has now been confirmed that Starr, 76, who suffered a major heart attack in April 2010 and underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery, died of natural causes.
Dr Sebastian Diaz, director of Malaga’s Institute of Legal Medicine, which carried out the post-mortem, said: “The only thing I can tell you about Mr Freddie Starr’s death is that his death was the result of a natural process, and specifically an ischemic heart disease.”
Starr was known for his wild and eccentric behaviour on stage and became a household name in the 1970s after appearing on talent show Opportunity Knocks.
His manager confirmed his death on social media, saying: “This is Freddie’s manager just to confirm Freddie has passed away. RIP to our greatest comedian of all time.”
Fellow comedians and celebrities are among those who have paid tribute to the Merseyside-born entertainer.
Bobby Davro told Sky News: “Out of all the comedians from the past era, I would have to say he was the funniest man I’ve ever seen in my life.
“He could be quite uncomfortable to be with actually, almost intimidating, but his physical comedy was as good as anyone’s I’ve ever seen.”
He added: “I remember watching him once back in the late ’80s and thinking, ‘as long as I’ve got breath in my body, I’ll never be as funny as Freddie Starr’. There’s never going to be another Freddie.”
Comedian Jim Davidson tweeted: “Just heard the news. Freddie Starr was the greatest.”