HE WAS once a famous star of the silver screen but today Sydney Howard is little remembered.

The popular comedian and actor, from Yeadon, made a name for himself nationally and internationally, filming with the likes of Gracie Fields and Jack Buchanan. His success took him to America where he mixed with the Hollywood elite.

But today few will have heard of Sydney, who died in 1946 and whose grave is in Yeadon Cemetery.

Born on the border of Cheshire and Staffordshire in the 1880s Sydney moved to Yeadon when very young, and his father Robert had a shop on the High Street selling stockings and paper goods.

The young boy went on to become a well-known entertainer. Scenes for one of his films - Up For The Cup - were shot in his hometown in 1930, with many local people appearing in the crowd scenes.

His story is told in the archives of Aireborough Historical Society, which also features many photographs charting the course of his life.

Sydney started his working life in a mill and then became a representative for his father’s business - but his ambition was to become a professional entertainer.

After appearing in many local amateur shows he began his professional acting career, joining sea-side concert troupes, playing in pantomimes and musicals.

He married Dora White, daughter of Fred White who had a newsagents shop on Ivegate, and they had a daughter, Wendy.

After serving in the First World War he resumed his career and began to appear in films.

His biggest break came when he starred in the first British production of Anything Goes at the Palace Theatre, London. He went on to star in many more films and musical comedies - including one film in America, Trans Atlantic Merry-go-round.

His success meant he and his wife Dora were able to enjoy the good life, spending winters in the south of France, and holidays in far flung places.

The couple didn’t own their own home, living instead in the Park Lane hotel when in London, or staying with Dora’s family when they returned to Yeadon. Sydney was a much-loved figure in the town, which came to a standstill on the day of his funeral.

Wendy often appeared in amateur productions at Yeadon Temperance Hall, many of them produced by her uncle Donald White. She trained as a gym teacher and taught at Dulwich College. She eventually had a house built on Harrogate Road in Rawdon and lived there with her aunt Chrissie White. She died in the 1970s.

An undated photograph of Sydney portrays him in a pensive pose, while another shot, taken in 1937, shows him with children from the cast of Old Mother Hubbard, a production performed by the Yeadon Temperance Hall Amateurs.

In an image from 1906 he can be seen driving a “car” in the pantomime Robinson Crusoe.

Wendy Howard appears in an undated photograph and again standing behind the bench in a picture taken at Burnsall in 1925. Seated, on the left is Maggie Tillotson, the boy is Dennis Sutcliffe and Chrissie White is on his right.

Robert Howard’s shop can be seen in a 1906 photograph from Yeadon High Street.

Towards the end of his life Sydney featured in a 1946 cartoon which was donated to AHS by Brian Triffitt. Film Fun Annual also featured Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, and George Formby.