By Gene Earl & Garry McLain
Billy de Frank's show life started at the age of 9 playing in a show called "Kiddie Kapers," which ran the stage circuit from New York to Montreal, Canada. Billy and his family moved to California when he was about 12. While attending Monterey High in Monterey, where Billy graduated as an honor student, he did his first drag show at the ripe old age of 16, in a Gay club known as The Nest.
In 1954 Billy went back to New York and attended the New York Drama Academy, and then began working with small theater groups and nightclubs in the New York area. It was during this time that Billy met his first lover, a successful director for the Columbia Broadcasting Network. Billy went into his first of many "retirements" from show business to become a happy homemaker, but fate had its way and Billy's first love was taken suddenly ill and passed away, throwing Billy into severe shock.
After about a year Billy returned to Monterey and began entertaining again.
In 1966 Billy moved to Oakland, where he took an 8-5 white collar job to supplement his income, while working up a nightclub act with a friend. First tries sometimes flop, so Billy moved on and did the U.S.O. circuit throughout California, Oregon and Washington. For the next ten years Billy worked throughout Northern California and on up to Vancouver, B.C., with his drag show. These were successful years but exciting enough for Billy. Billy started doing benefit shows for various causes during these years, and it was his mother who inspired Billy to help a senior citizens' home in the Merced area to raise funds. To this day, they still do not know that the money was raised by a Gay person doing benefits in the Gay community all $26,292.32 of it.
In 1976 Billy started working with the court systems. There isn't a court in California, Oregon, Washington, Vancouver (B.C.), or Nevada that has not bestowed titles, awards and honors on Billy de Frank. Many titles were lifetime titles or honors. If they were to read a list of all his titles and honors, you would have time to get a short lunch and be back in time for the reading of the last ten.
Billy started the E.A.S.T. Bay Association. Billy de Frank and Associates and the A.I.C.&O. with one purpose in mind - to help the courts and charitable organizations as well as the political organizations in the community have a voice, to work together and get more out of Gay life.
Since 1976 Billy has helped raise in excess of $180,000 - not including the monies to the senior citizens' home in Merced and Children's Hospital in Oakland.
Billy made his mark on many; he was known as "Mr. Love." If he got on your case about a matter, it just meant that he cared enough about you and the community to say something, to be involved.