Freddie Mercury ‘s described her as the "love of my life", but many people knew very little about Mary Austin before Bohemian Rhapsody hit screens last year.
The late Queen singer’s "common-law" wife is an extremely private woman, but was thrown back into the limelight thanks to the movie starring Rami Malek.
The movie biopic scooped best film at the Golden Globes last weekend and has made almost £600million at the box office.
And the film’s huge success will see Mary, Freddie’s former fiancée, received a windfall of around £40million in royalties.
Mary, played by Lucy Boynton in the movie, wasn’t involved in the making of the biopic, but is said to have given her approval.
The pair remained friends until his death from Aids-related pneumonia in 1991. Freddie left Mary half of his £75m estate, including his West London mansion.
He also left her 50 per cent of his future earnings. A further 25 per cent went to his parents and 25 per cent to his sister.
Mary’s share increased to 75 per cent after the death of Freddie’s parents.
According to financial records, reported by the Daily Mail, future earnings of Queen are split four ways between the Freddie Mercury estate and his three surviving bandmates – guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon. Mary receives around 19 per cent.
The film follows the story of Queen from their origins to Live Aid, but mostly focuses on lead singer Freddie Mercury, his love life, career and struggles.
Mercury’s sexuality is well documented. He was a well know ‘gay singer’, but things were more complex than that – there was Mary.
"All my lovers asked me why they couldn’t replace Mary, but it’s simply impossible," Mercury once said.
"The only friend I’ve got is Mary, and I don’t want anybody else. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage.
“We believe in each other. That’s enough for me. I couldn’t fall in love with a man the same way as I have with Mary.”
For a man who once said: “I’ll sleep with anything — man, woman or cat," this may come as a surprise to Mercury’s fans.
But Mary stood apart from the ‘rock life-style’. She was a sweet, working-class girl, brought up by her deaf parents and loyal to the end.
Critics have accused the movie of "straight-washing", but Mercury and Mary’s relationship was real – if undefined – and more complicated than that.
Read more about Mary Austin and Freddie Mercury’s relationship.
Bohemian Rhapsody is out in cinemas now.
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