Did the late Freddie Starr really eat a live hamster?
The renowned comedian was found dead in his Spanish home at the age of 76, reviving the notorious question whether he made a sandwich out of a live rodent
Freddie Starr's life, to put mildly, was nothing short of a perpetual roller coaster ride and included five failed marriages, historic sex claims, and THAT notorious hamster.
After more than three decades of a fruitful professional career, the world-famous comedian withdrew from public life in his later years. It was revealed on Thursday that the 76-year-old had been found dead in his Spanish home, The Sun reports.
Starr located to Spain in 2015 after he reportedly lost £1million ($1.3 million) battling a defamation case, years after he gained notoriety in 1986 with The Sun’s iconic headline of “Freddie Starr ate my hamster”.
After a series of failed marriages and unproven allegations that he put his hand up a girl's skirt in 1974, Starr was forced to sell his £700,000 ($911,000) UK residence and move abroad in 2015. The once household name was discovered by a carer on the floor of his Costa Del Sol apartment on Thursday. According to authorities, Starr is believed to have died of natural causes and there were no suspicious circumstances at the scene.
The entertainer became one of the biggest names of the 70s, 80s, and 90s after his energetic stand-up routines and TV shows. In the 80s, he was best known for a story that claimed he had eaten a pet hamster.
At the time, The Sun ran a tabloid story featuring a tête-à-tête with model Lea La Salle.
She claimed that the incident happened at her and her boyfriend's home in Birchwood, Chesire. Starr was staying with the couple after a performance when he allegedly committed the horrific act.
According to her, Starr ordered her to make him a sandwich. When Salle refused, he reportedly went on to eat her hamster between two slices of bread.
That said, the eccentric star had always denied the story. "I have never eaten or even nibbled a live hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, mouse, shrew, vole or any other small mammal," he clarified in his 2010 autobiography 'Unwrapped'.
Speaking to Leveson Inquiry in 2012, Starr's publicist Max Clifford explained he allowed the story to run because it would garner publicity for his upcoming UK tour.
This was not the only time the comedian made shocking headlines. In 1997, he sustained a huge backlash after hurling live chickens into an audience at the Britannia Theatre, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
“It was absolutely wicked. People were screaming and there were feathers flying in the air," audience member Kerry Duthie said at the time. "The chickens were flapping about in a panic. I am not a big animal rights supporter, but to see that happen was so cruel. If it was a cat or dog, people would have been up in arms. But because it was a chicken they got away with it.”
However, Starr shrugged off the outrage. “There is nothing wrong with what happened and it will be left in the video," he said. "It was not cruel at all. As far as the chickens go, it was a one-off. They have a professional handler and were kept in the cool outside the theatre before going on stage.”
In April 2010, Starr survived a major heart attack and had to undergo quadruple heart bypass surgery. Nonetheless, he still signed up for the 2011 installation of 'I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!
In February this year, Starr shared a picture of himself on Facebook with cigarettes stuffed into his facial orifices.
Then, in May, he shared another post. “Hello everyone, hope everyone is okay? Me yes I’m okay getting tired now but otherwise, I’m doing good," he wrote. "I just have to say thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all the kind comments and messages it really does mean a lot so thank you to each and every one of you. Thanks so much. Freddie.”