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Who killed Freddie Mills?

Posted on 31 July 2018

A University of York academic is one of the experts on a new BBC documentary about the mysterious death of celebrity boxer Freddie Mills.


For many people the name Freddie Mills no longer means very much. However, in the 1950s and 1960s Mills was a highly successful celebrity due to his boxing achievements.

Murder in Soho: Who Killed Freddie Mills?, revisits Mills’ mysterious death in July 1965.

Public attention

Dr Ruth Penfold-Mounce, from the Department of Sociology, said: "Mills' death was never fully explained and the many details that simply do not add up have resulted in persistent myths and gossip.

“Celebrity underpins the narrative of the mysterious death of Mills. He himself was a celebrity boxer, actor, television presenter and night club owner.

"He grabbed the public’s attention and enlivened post-war Britain with his big personality and charm. He had celebrity friends such as Bruce Forsyth who gave the address at his funeral, with Sid James, Norman Wisdom and Bob Monkhouse also in attendance.

Celebrity status

“It was Keith Simpson - a celebrity pathologist of the period who worked on high profile murder cases - who investigated Mills’ death, and it was celebrity detective Nipper Read who later reinvestigated it after his success in solving the Great Train Robbery.

“Mills’ celebrity status was so strong he had to be exhumed and moved to a more accessible place in the cemetery as access to his grave was in such demand.”

Murder in Soho: who killed Freddie Mills is broadcast on BBC Four at 9 pm on Wednesday 1 August.

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