Frank Leveson

Frank Leveson

Frank Leveson (Frankie) was described as a ‘Dapper Dane’ by the entertainer Billy Milton and was part of the smart society set in Jazz Age London with the likes of Noel Coward, designer Gladys Caltrop, Gladys Cooper and Ivor Novello. He made a name for himself as an exhibition dancer in the 1920s but had another career as an interior designer eventually becoming manager for Syrie Maugham’s business in the late 1920s.

Frank Leveson & partner mid 1920s
Frank Leveson & partner mid 1920s

Clearly of Danish ancestry (or perhaps merely Scandinavian), Frank Leveson was tall, dark, handsome and impeccably dressed – as such he made the perfect dancing partner. He became a fixture in mainly London cabarets during the 1920s but his first known appearance was an engagement in March 1922 at the Cannes Casino on the Riviera with two female partners called the Misses Cliff. On his return to London he danced with Bernice Harper as one of the attractions at the Midnight Follies cabaret at the Hotel Metropole in the summer of 1922.

Even before this date he had become friends with a lot of leading society people but how is not known. So, in late 1922 for example, he accompanied the actor Ivor Novello on a trip to explore the delights of Berlin. At the Chelsea Arts Club ball on New Years Eve 1924, he was seen with a range of other celebrity friends including Gladys Calthrop, Ivor Novello, Noel Coward, Lorenzo Chabloz, Sholto Bailey and Eric Allden.

When Edward Dolly’s cabaret show Dolly’s Revels opened in the spring of 1924 at the Piccadilly hotel, Leveson danced with the actress June but a little later was partnered with Doreen Read. Subsequently, he danced with Read for a short engagement at Chateau de Madrid in Paris in May.

When Edward Dolly launched another show called Summer Time Frolics at the Café de Paris in August 1924, Leveson and Read were the star dancing attractions, but they switched back to the Dolly’s Revels in September.

In the autumn of 1924 Leveson had a new partner called Joan Bryant and they took the place of Fred and Adele Astaire in the show Stop Flirting. But by November he was back with Doreen Read, perhaps doubling at the Café de Paris during their afternoon dances.

Seemingly throughout this period, Leveson had also made a name for himself as an interior designer, because in the mid 1920s he was engaged by Syrie Maugham to manage her own decorating business. As a potential competitor, his appointment was a feature of Syrie’s business technique. He was good at charming the customers, negotiating the intracies of dealing with various tradesman and arranging social functions.

He clearly had made some money as by the mid-late 1920s he had a flat at 28 Tite Street, Chelsea and another property at the Villette Building in Sloane Square. He had lived at various other salubrious addresses including 56a South Eaton Place, 17 Gerald Road Westminster and 170 Brompton Road.

Frank Leveson & partner in 1922
Frank Leveson & partner in 1922

Leveson continued to dabble in the stage and in 1929 designed the settings for Canaries Sometimes Sing, staged by Ernest Peirce at the Globe theatre and made a few appearances as an actor. He also regularly appeared at charity events as the dancing partner to Lady Dorothy Plunkett.

Billy Milton met him in early 1929, and was seduced by him, indicating that he was indeed gay. Leveson also introduced him to the outrageous Norwegian Rocky Twins who were visiting London at the time.

In late 1930, Leveson gave Ivor Novello a farewell party before he left for America in his delightful Chelsea studio, but then during a visit to Paris, Leveson died on 21 June 1931 at 50 Ave du Roulle. His death must have been unexpected and there is no mention of the cause. His estate, valued at £1,834, was bequeathed to Eric Dalgetty Gronous (an artist and decorator) who may have been his partner at the time.

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