Martin S Frutin

Travel agent, TV presenter, reporter and Bollywood star

Born: 31 December, 1942, in Giffnock, Glasgow.

Died: 24 January, 2010, in Thailand, aged 67.

MARTIN Frutin was always destined for some sort of stardom from the time he was born into the renowned Glasgow Frutin theatrical family, owners of the now long-gone Metropole theatre and various cinemas.

Blessed with film stars looks, he opted not to tread the boards but became a champion jive dancer with his partner, June Miller, with whom he subsequently enjoyed a seven-year engagement which never actually led to a marriage.

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Appearances on early STV dance programmes followed and the pair had the honour of appearing at the Glasgow Alhambra Theatre before the Queen Mother, who was watching when Frutin took an unrehearsed tumble into the orchestra pit, emerging with only his dignity hurt. Frutin also recounted how Frank Sinatra presented the couple with a special award and during the years which followed he was to meet many stars of stage and screen on his travels.

In the early 1960s he became a manager of pop groups, capitalising on his family name to get him and them business. As in all he did, he succeeded beautifully. He was proud to say he knew Brian Epstein, then manager of the Beatles;

In his business life, he began modestly in a small office owned by Scotia Travel, a well-known Glasgow travel agency. He realised he had a penchant for selling holidays and eventually found himself in Edinburgh, where he founded Frutin Travel, a Leith travel agency in which he pioneered the first last-minute bargain offers.

Frutin recalled proudly the day he advertised a 25 holiday special offer and crowds filled the street outside the shop. He would welcome prospective clients into his shop dressed in an assortment of humorous masks and false teeth to make them laugh and while away the interminable time queuing for his bargain-basement deals. That way he never lost a customer and his hard-working staff, including manager Jimmy Thomson and Ian Chambers, were his pride and joy.

However, it was during a business tour for the agency that he discovered an affinity with Thailand, claiming a dj vu feeling of having been there in a past existence. So, retaining his Ravelston Dykes residence in Edinburgh, he bought two large condominiums in Pattaya and commuted when business allowed, eventually taking early retirement and selling the business, which retains the Frutin name, to live a happy life in Thailand. He called the country "the land of smiles" and eventually purchased land there on which he built a magnificent four-storey residence. It came complete with an Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool and garages for his stable of ten cars, ranging from the latest Lexus to a red Rolls-Royce, which he had imported from Scotland.

Having intended to enjoy retirement, Frutin was approached by Niels Colov, head of the Pattaya People newspaper, radio and television group, to be a guest in a radio programme. However, the Frutin personality so dazzled expat listeners that he was asked to become a roving television reporter for the group and contribute a column to the paper, also assisting as photographer when invited with the food critic to cover events.

A prominent mason in the Pattaya brotherhood, Frutin was also a rotararian, a part-time translator for the Pattaya police (he spoke several Thai dialects as well as ten other languages fluently) and a member of the expats club, where his regular talks on Thai life and customs always guaranteed a full house. His home telephone number was listed as an emergency contact for any expat with a problem or who required advice

But when a Bollywood film company arrived in Pattaya looking for somewhere palatial in which to film, Colov recommended Frutin, who allowed the stars and film crew into his home and ended up getting a part himself.

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His future plans included a trip to India and a large part in another Bollywood film but, sadly, he developed pancreatitis a few months ago, and although he received treatment in Scotland on one of his twice-yearly visits, he was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently hospitalised in Pattaya. His condition worsened and he died surrounded by those he called his adopted Thai family, Neat and Ton and Ton's son Leo, as well as a nephew, Joel, who had flown out to be with him.

Martin Frutin made people smile. It is an appropriate epitaph for a man who chose to live life to the full in the land of smiles. He is survived by his sister, Sharon, and various nephews and nieces.