WHEN heart-throb hit-maker and Hollywood star Frankie Vaughan intervened in Glasgow gang warfare in the 60s, some people dismissed it as a publicity stunt by a vain do-gooder intent on nothing more than selling records.

Glasgow Times: Frankie Vaughan in Easterhouse. 1968

Not so Kim Millar, who has turned the unlikely story of the pop-star peacemaker on the streets of Easterhouse into a stage play.

“After reading up on Frankie, on his background – he came from nothing, and understood the problems facing communities blighted by gangs – I believe he was a genuinely lovely person, with a generosity of spirit and a real desire to help young people,” she explains.

“Actually, I fell a little bit in love with him.”

Mr Moonlight, which is this week’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint in Oran Mor’s popular lunchtime theatre series, might relate to events which took place more than 50 years ago but there is a very modern resonance too.

Glasgow Times: Kim Millar, right with Karen Dunbar.

“When I was asked to take a look at this, it struck me that Glasgow’s knife crime problem, while it may have reduced, has never gone away entirely,” says Kim, who is a television scriptwriter and former Glasgow Times journalist.

“I did a lot of research into the city’s Violence Reduction Unit, which was set up in 2005 to tackle the problem. It received a lot of praise, not just here in Scotland but around the world. Despite that, Glasgow can still be a violent city. And as a mother of a teenage boy, that is a worry to me.”

The play is set in Frankie’s dressing room at the Barrowland in 1968, where the singer – who had a string of hits with the likes of Give Me The Moonlight and Tower of Strength – meets a teenage boy, Walter and his mum, Ann, who is a cleaner at the famous venue. Andy Clark plays Frankie, Kyle Gardiner plays Walter, and Karen Dunbar plays Ann.

Glasgow Times: Kim Millar

“I discovered Frankie actually found the lyrics for Give Me The Moonlight in Biggars music shop in Glasgow,” smiles Kim. “It was an old Victorian song, and he changed the words a little and turned it into one of his biggest hits.

“In the play, Frankie has come off stage having lost his voice, and Ann makes him a hot toddy and hands him the sheet music. A bit of artistic licence, but I was really intrigued by both those stories – that he found the song in Glasgow, and that he once lost his voice on stage in the city.”

She adds: “He said afterwards that in any other city, he’d have been booed off the stage if that had happened to him, but in Glasgow, the audience just sang his set back to him. He seemed to have a real affinity with Glasgow and Glaswegians.”

Woven in to this story is a mother’s fear for her son – Ann, the cleaner, is worried Walter will get caught up in the gang fighting which has taken hold of Easterhouse.

“Frankie grew up poor in Liverpool, was made to feel marginalised because he was ‘different’ – he was Jewish,” says Kim. “He joined a boxing club to get out of the gangs. He’d gone through what a lot of the kids in Easterhouse were going through and he genuinely, I believe, wanted to help.”

Glasgow Times: The amnesty in the east end.

Frankie’s intervention was a huge success - he even invited some of the gang members to a ‘peace conference’ in Blackpool - and his fund-raising gala, Not the Gang Show, kickstarted the Easterhouse Project, a community youth club built in the heart of the housing scheme to offer youngsters an alternative to street fighting.

READ MORE: Memories of superstar Gilbert O'Sullivan when he came to Glasgow in the 70s

A knife amnesty was held during Frankie’s visit, and three binfuls of weapons were handed in - later, some Glasgow mothers complained their sons had raided their kitchens for knives so they could get their picture taken with Frankie.

Frankie’s visit was only part of the story – once the star had gone, the hard work began and the community rallied to support its young people with a raft of innovative and exciting initiatives.

But the singer did keep in touch with developments and visited the area regularly until his death in September 1999.

“I loved the Glasgow connection as soon as I started researching Frankie’s story,” says Kim, who has written for a variety of TV series, including Casualty, Doctors and River City. This is her third play for Oran Mor.

“It’s fantastic doing A Play, A Pie and A Pint, because there’s a lot of freedom to work with the actors and change things - when you write for a continuing drama, even though you are writing a particular episode, it has to fit with the long-term story arc, so you have to make it work,” she explains.

“One of the joys of this is that all three cast members brought something to it, and they are all amazing.”

Mr Moonlight runs until Saturday.