Great Orme grave Jess Yates

Grave of Jess YatesJess Yates was born in Manchester in 1918. His family moved to North Wales and he started playing the organ at a Colwyn Bay cinema when aged 15. He took up the job as the organist of the Odeon cinema in Llandudno and during the Second World War he played at Rank cinemas across North-west England.

After the war he worked in the film industry and later for BBC television. His big step up was when he joined Yorkshire Television, where he produced the Miss World beauty competition and Come Dancing. He was best known for producing and presenting the semi-religious programme Stars on Sunday. It had over 22 million viewers at its peak. This was a world record at the time.

In 1959 he and his wife Elaine Smith, a model, bought the Deganwy Castle Hotel.

Some nine months later, Elaine gave birth to Paula Yates, who went on to become a TV presenter and marrying the musician Bob Geldof. She died of a drugs overdose in 2000. She had grown up believing that Jess Yates was her father. A paternity test proved that her father was Hughie Green, another star of TV showbiz. He had stayed at the family’s hotel.

The marriage lasted just a few years before the couple split up. Jess’s career ended after a Sunday newspaper exposed, in 1974, an affair he had been having with a much younger actress while still technically married to Elaine. He lived the rest of his life in Rowen, near Conwy.

You may notice that his name is spelt Jesse on his gravestone. This is how he was christened, but he dropped the second 'e' during his early career because too many people were assuming Jesse was a female name.

Return to cemetery page