Obituary: Trevor Danker

Social columnist who interviewed socialites and stars

As  the Sunday Independent’s social diarist, Trevor Danker wrote accounts of meeting Frank Sinatra for dinner in New York and of having a beer with the young Ben Dunne.

As the Sunday Independent’s social diarist, Trevor Danker wrote accounts of meeting Frank Sinatra for dinner in New York and of having a beer with the young Ben Dunne.

Sat, May 4, 2013, 06:00

Trevor Danker, who has died aged 74, was for many years a social columnist with the Sunday Independent , having learned the diarist’s trade in Fleet Street. His was a world of “celebrities, major and minor, lords and ladies, politicians, film stars, industrialists, businessmen and women”, and he was its Boswell.

The son of eastern European parents, Trevor Theodore Danker was born into Belfast’s Jewish community in 1938. He was educated at the Royal Academy, where he enjoyed playing sports especially cricket.

He decided to become a journalist and at 17 joined the Larne Times , where his colleagues included Cal McCystal, future foreign editor of The Sunday Times . Later he worked at the Belfast Telegraph and The Irish Times before becoming staff reporter for the People in Ireland. He subsequently went to London, where he spent 10 years at the Daily Mirror .

He next worked for the Daily Mail , contributing to the diary edited by Nigel Dempster. He recalled that in its heyday it attracted a devoted following of “secretaries and suburban housewives” who delighted in reading all about “the ‘luxury’ yachts’, million pound divorce settlements and indiscretions of plutocrats and noblemen whose love lives and behaviour he [Dempster] monitored”.

In 1968 Danker married Carmel Concagh, a beauty consultant, who grew up in Dundalk, Co Louth. The couple moved to Dublin in 1972, where he joined the Sunday Independent . His wife acquired the Aida Grey beauty franchise and operated a salon at the Westbury Hotel. They made their home in Killiney, Co Dublin.

Danker worked as a news reporter before he started his Sunday Independent column. Among the personalities to feature in the column were Eamonn Andrews, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, PV Doyle, Princess Grace, Desmond Guinness and Richard Harris, along with bogus baron Brian de Breffny and errant accountant Russell Murphy.

He filed interviews with Richard Burton, Zsa Zsa Gabor and John Travolta. And he wrote accounts of meeting Frank Sinatra for dinner in New York and of having a beer with the young Ben Dunne.

He continued his association with Nigel Dempster following his move to Dublin. “After I had used a story about the Smurfits, Charlie Haughey or any of the names making news here, I would send it to him and it would appear in the Dempster column in the Daily Mail the following week.”

Danker retired from the Sunday Independent in 1997, although he continued to contribute occasional articles. Celebrities had become wary of the press, he said. The focus on overseas accounts, in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere, along with the Revenue’s investigation of discrepancies between lifestyle and income, meant Irish socialites were reluctant to have their activities reported in gossip columns.

He opened a public relations agency, and also supplied material to British and US newspaper diaries. Following his wife’s death in 2007 he moved to the UK and settled in Brighton.

His son Theo and daughter Orla survive him.