Larry Grayson Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains material relating to Larry Grayson and his other stage names, Billie Breen and Kathryn Grayson. Materials include scrapbooks, a photograph album, a notebook and order of services relating to his death. The material dates between 1923 and 1995.

Administrative / Biographical History

Larry Grayson was born William White in Banbury on 21 August 1923. He grew up with adoptive parents in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. By the age of 14, he had started his career and joined the comedy club and variety shows circuit, using the stage name of Billy Breen. He often appeared in drag shows, changing his stage name in the Fifties to Kathryn Grayson.

His big break in television came in January 1971 when, as Larry Grayson, he appeared on ATV's Saturday Variety. In 1972, he had his own television show 'Shut that Door' (1972). In 1978, he took over presenting 'The Generation Game' from Bruce Forsyth. He retired from television in 1981, but continued to perform in the theatre, particularly in pantomime.

On New Year's Eve 1994, Larry Grayson was rushed into hospital suffering from a perforated appendix. After being released home, Grayson died on 7 January 1995 in Nuneaton, at the age of 71. Grayson's final public appearance was at the 1994 Royal Variety Performance. During this performance he referred to his absence from television, by commenting to the audience, "Yes, I am still alive!". His last words on stage were his catchphrase "Shut that door!" He is buried alongside other members of his family in his home town of Nuneaton.

Conditions Governing Access

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here:

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.

The 1994 programme of 'Piaf, a musical play by Pam Gems', starring Elain Paige at the Piccadily Theatre in London was integrated into the core collections.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Theatre and Performance Department. Material relating to Larry Grayson in general may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details.