Richard Bryce (né Maxwell; 4 November 1929– 6 May 1971),known professionally as Dickie Valentine, was a British pop singer who enjoyed great popularity in Britain during the 1950s.
In addition to several other Top Ten hit singles, Valentine had two chart-toppers on the UK Singles Chart with “Finger of Suspicion”, featuring The Stargazers (1954) and the seasonal “Christmas Alphabet” (1955).
Valentine was born Richard Maxwell in November 1929 (his birth father was Dickie Maxwell) in Marylebone, London.
He was known as Richard Bryce after his mother married a Mr. Bryce.
Valentine’s first acting job was at age only three when he appeared in the British comedy film Jack’s the Boy starring Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge.
He developed a flexible vocal style and skills as an impersonator of famous singers.
Actor-singer Bill O’Connor overheard him singing as a call boy at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London and paid for his voice lessons.
He sang in clubs and learned stagecraft to help gain confidence and experience.
While he was in his late teens, he was singing at the Panama Club one night when music publisher Sid Green saw him and brought him to the attention of bandleader Ted Heath.
On 14 February 1949, Valentine, an unknown, was signed by Ted Heath to join his band, Ted Heath and his Music, to sing alongside Lita Roza and Dennis Lotis.
He was voted the Top UK Male Vocalist in 1952 while singing with the Ted Heath Orchestra, the most successful of all British big bands,and again after going solo in 1954.
In November 1954, Valentine was invited to sing at the Royal Command Performance, and in February 1955 he was top billed at the London Palladium.
He also cracked jokes and impersonated entertainers, including Johnnie Ray, Frankie Laine, Mario Lanza and Billy Daniels.He recorded two number one hits, “Christmas Alphabet” and “The Finger of Suspicion (Points at You)”.
His first chart-topper came only two months after his marriage to Elizabeth Flynn at Caxton Hall, which caused scenes of hysteria and was widely expected to sound the death knell to his career.
In fact, 1955 was by far his best chart year, with both the number ones and three others placed in the Top Ten.
While his second number one saw Valentine playing ‘King Canute’ to Bill Haley’s incoming tide of rock and roll, “Christmas Alphabet” marked the first time in the UK that a song created for the Christmas market would hit number one.
In April 1955, Valentine again topped the bill at the London Palladium for two weeks, a month after winning the male vocalist category in the NME poll. He went on to win this title consecutively from 1953 to 1957.
In 1961, he had a television series Calling Dickie Valentine.
In 1966 Valentine partnered with Peter Sellers on the ATV sketch show The Dickie Valentine Show.
Although his fame began to wane during the 1960s, he remained a popular live performer until his death.
He married Elizabeth Flynn, a Scottish professional ice skater, in 1954.
They had two children together, Richard born 1955 (later a television director) and Kim born January 1956, but they divorced in 1967.
Valentine married the actress Wendy Wayne in 1968.
Prior to the car accident, Wayne and Valentine were scheduled to undertake a twenty-week summer season at the Water Splash in Jersey.
Written by: Christmas Songs Radio