Benny Lee, entertainer; born August 11, 1916, died December 9, 1995

THERE was much generosity about Benny Lee. He was always a man who gave more than he took, in showbusiness and in life.

Back in the seventies I went to London for material about Tin Pan Alley. Knowing he had once been a Tin Pan Alley song plugger, I phoned his house out in the suburbs. Without a moment's hesitation he hopped on a tube train, travelled into town, and provided me with a wealth of anecdotes. It was so typical of the man.

He was never destined to be a major star, topping the bill at the London Palladium. But as an all-round entertainer he was always a great member of a team. He just loved being involved with showbusiness, whether his role was large or small.

Benny had been well known as a band singer before he achieved real fame in 1950 on the radio show Breakfast with Braden which graduated to Bedtime with Braden. This was before television took a grip and radio was the thing. Bernard Braden, just over from Canada for a West End acting role, had started it as a diversion and it revolutionised radio comedy in Britain. In the series Benny was singer, foil, feed, and comic in his own right.

He would have been a natural for the Fol de Rols shows that emanated from the end-of-the-pier entertainments. But this was one of the few areas in which he never worked.

A Jewish boy from the Gorbals, he had started as a tailor's apprentice. He became an acrobat, then a singing acrobat, a drummer with his own band, a song writer, a fairground barker. For a while he was an actor in the old Princess's Theatre, Gorbals, now home of the Citizens'. There was a stint with Essex Music Publishers at a time when song pluggers would jump on the running board of a car and sing to a likely buyer.

Johnny Claes, the motor-racing bandleader, heard him sing and he became one of Britain's most popular crooners, going on to do well over 2000 broadcasts.

In the early days of television he was in the situation comedy Friends and Neighbours. In 1960 he became a regular on Michael Bentine's television series It's a Square World. In the early seventies it seemed he had made the big breakthrough as one of the stars of the much-hyped West End musical The Barmitzvah Boy. The show was a costly flopperoo, although he was singled out for praise as the grandfather.

Always good company, he had a fund of affectionate Jewish jokes, involving characters like Hymie and Abie, in the days when it was politically OK to tell such stories. In London he lived modestly with wife Ettie in a street called Streatham Close. ``Close, like in the Gorbals,'' said the man who never forgot his roots.

n An appreciation