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Actor

Stephen Lewis

Stephen-Lewis

Date of Birth: 17 December 1926, Poplar, London, UK
Birth Name: Stephen Lewis
Nicknames: Stephen Lewis, Stephen Cato

In 1960, he wrote Sparrers Can’t Sing, a play about life in the East End that relied heavily on actors’ improvisations. It was a success and was released as a film (Sparrows Can’t Sing) in 1963, with a cast that included Barbara Windsor and Roy Kinnear – although even their talents could not sell the social realist dialogue to a global audience.
The New York Times sniffed: “This isn’t a picture for anyone with a logical mind or an ear for language. The gabble of Cockney spoken here is as incomprehensible as the reasoning of those who speak it.” It was the first English-language film to be released in the US with subtitles.

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As Lewis’s career illustrates, a great number of the comedy stars of the 1960s and 1970s came from serious theatre with proudly socialist roots, while television and film started to tap into a growing appetite for working-class drama and comedy. Throughout the 1960s, Lewis took a series of small roles culminating in a large part in the 1969 television play, Mrs Wilson’s Diary, alongside another Theatre Workshop regular called Bob Grant.

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That same year, he landed a role in a new series called On the Buses, which also featured Grant as a lascivious bus ticket-collector teamed up with Reg Varney, his equally Dionysian mate.
Although the show was undoubtedly rude, crude and occasionally prejudiced, it offered genuinely witty reflections on the nature of 1970s class conflict. In the world of On the Buses, workers were constantly on strike and after more money; managerial characters such as Lewis’s Blakey were exploitative snobs who thought they had authority just because they wore a badge.

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It was plain where the audience's sympathies were supposed to lie: many was the time that a bus “hilariously” ran over poor Blakey’s foot or a bucket of water was tipped over his head. The cry: “I ’ate you Butler” was born of impotent rage. Although Varney the actor was Lewis’s senior, it was still Varney’s character, Reg, that got all the “crumpet”.  Lewis was only in his early forties when he took the role of Blakey, but playing ageing authority figures became his stock in trade. In the 1970s, he appeared in the television sequel to On The Buses, Don’t Drink the Water, three big-screen outings of On The Buses and two cinematic sex comedies (Adventures of a Taxi Driver, Adventures of a Plumber’s Mate). He later had parts in the films Personal Services (1987) and The Krays (1990).

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In 1988, he played a new character in the long-running BBC series Last of the Summer Wine as the character Clem “Smiler” Hemmingway  which he thoroughly enjoyed. “It’s got so much charm,” he said of the show. “I don’t think any other country in the world has comedy like that.” From 1995 to 1997, he appeared in the equally gentle sitcom Oh, Doctor Beeching! In 2007, he stepped down from Last of the Summer Wine because of ill health.
Stephen Lewis remained a committed socialist. In a stroke of irony, however, in 1981 he was hired to promote CH coaches, in the character of Blakey; it was the first private bus company to break the public transport monopoly of Cardiff city council. This was exactly the kind of Thatcherite revolution of which Blakey would probably have approved.
In his diaries, Tony Benn recalled campaigning with Lewis in 1984, describing him as “very direct” and “extremely amusing”.

George Cole

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Date of Birth: 22 April 1925, Tooting, London, UK
Birth Name: George Edward Cole
Nicknames: George Cole


George Cole, the actor, who has died aged 90, was best-known as the devious and conniving Arthur Daley in the popular ITV series Minder and as Alastair Sim’s crooked accomplice Flash Harry in the St Trinian’s films of the 1950s.
One of the most endearing and enduring popular players of rueful light comedy, and once described as looking like “an amiable pall bearer”, Cole played numerous untrustworthy characters in a career spanning 70 years. He believed that his “crafty but sad” appearance was responsible for his repeated casting in what he described as “spiv” roles.
Apart from a weakness for strong-smelling cigars and a passion for horse racing, Cole had little in common with the roguish Arthur Daley. An inveterate punter, he confessed that “the ITV Seven was my downfall. I got it the very first time, about £1,100. After that I couldn’t leave it alone.” It was perhaps just as well that Cole’s portrayal of Arthur Daley had made him one of the highest-paid actors on British television.
Unlike his screen persona, Cole considered himself primarily a family man. After his unofficial adoption at the age of 16 by Alastair Sim and his wife, Naomi, Cole moved in with the couple. When he later married, he built a house on a five-acre plot of land next to the Sims’ home at Nettlebed in Oxfordshire and lived there with his own family.

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Despite his long career Cole claimed that he had never been ambitious as an actor, insisting that he preferred “an afternoon pottering in the garden to almost anything”. He distinguished himself from later generations of artists by taking up acting at the age of 14 to avoid starting work as a butcher’s boy. Cole claimed that his success was based on a sense of timing and a talent for droll facial expressions, skills he had learned from Alastair Sim whom he described as “one of the most talented actors in the business”.
George Edward Cole was born on April 22 1925 in Tooting, south London, and adopted when he was 10 days old after being abandoned by his mother. Educated locally, he won a scholarship to the Surrey county council school at Morden, but his educational hopes were dashed when his father had to give up work because of illness. “My father was gassed in the First World War and was an epileptic,” Cole recalled. “He couldn’t hold down a job, and when we couldn’t pay the rent the council gave him a job pulling a road roller. That did for him in the end.”
Cole – who described his upbringing as “the poorest you could get” – left school at 14 to help support his family. He worked as a newspaper delivery boy before gaining an apprenticeship with the local butcher. Due to start at the butcher’s on Monday morning, he answered an advertisement in The Star on Friday night that read “Boy wanted for West End show”. He auditioned on the Saturday, declaring that he could recite a poem by Julius Caesar called Friends, Romans, Countrymen. Cole was offered a part and joined the touring company performing The White Horse Inn in 1939.
When the tour ended after six months, Cole returned home and made his London debut as a Cockney evacuee in Cottage to Let (Wyndham’s, 1940). Hailed in The Daily Telegraph as “a very youthful actor with spirit and a grand sense of the occasion”, Cole reprised the same role in the film version two years later, appearing for the first time opposite Alastair Sim. Sim and his wife were responsible for all Cole’s theatrical training, including the thankless task of eradicating Cole’s Cockney accent.

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With Sim’s help he appeared in his second film, Those Kids from Town (1942) before joining the RAF the following year. Cole ended his service career running an officers’ mess bar in occupied Germany.
After the war Cole returned to acting, appearing in a variety of mediocre films including My Brother’s Keeper (1948), The Spider and the Fly (1949) and Gone to Earth (1950). He had greater success with Alastair Sim in the classic comedies Laughter in Paradise (1951) and Scrooge (1952).
Over the next decade, Cole and Sim repeated their screen partnership in a string of films, the most successful of which were the St Trinian’s series, directed by Frank Launder. In the first, The Belles of St Trinian’s (1954), Cole (as the spiv Flash Harry) received third billing after Sim and Joyce Grenfell. The film was extremely successful and was followed by five more, including Blue Murder at St Trinian’s (1958) and Cole’s only films in the series without Sim, The Pure Hell of St Trinian’s (1961) and The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery (1966).

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Between films, Cole starred as the bumbling bachelor David Bliss in the long-running radio series A Life of Bliss (1952-67). The show was broadcast on Sunday afternoons. Cole recalled it as “wholesome to the point of nausea”, and insisted that the best part of the show had been Percy Edwards’s performance as Psyche the dog.
By the mid-1960s, along with the rest of the British film industry, Cole’s film career had stalled. Parts dried up and Cole turned to the stage to revive his flagging fortunes. He worked consistently throughout the 1960s and 1970s in productions such as Banana Ridge, The Philanthropist and Too Good to be True. He also appeared in several musical hits such as Front Page (1981), The Pirates of Penzance (1982) and as Captain Hook in Peter Pan (1987).
But his greatest success came on his move into television, in series like The Bounder (1976) and Minder (1979). Cole was offered the part of Arthur Daley in Minder while making Dennis Potter’s banned play, Brimstone and Treacle.
Minder was not an instant success, and the first two series flopped. But by 1984, the show had become a hit, with Cole becoming inseparably linked with the shifty second-hand car dealer Arthur Daley. He was not the first choice for the role, and recalled that the writer and most of the production team were unhappy about the casting. “Verity Lambert [the producer] was the only one who thought I’d do,” he remembered, “and she was right.”
Playing the part with droll understatement, he helped to revive Cockney rhyming slang and deployed many a fine malapropism “The world is your lobster, my son” being one of the most memorable.
He was unable to account for his enormous success in the part or the longevity of the series, which ran until 1991. “It’s a bit worrying really,” he said. “After all, Arthur is a crook. He nearly always lets [his boneheaded bodyguard] Terry down and yet he’s one of the most popular characters on television.” Cole appeared in each series of Minder, seamlessly adapting to a new sidekick when Dennis Waterman left the programme.
Cole became so identified in the public’s mind to the Arthur Daley character that even when he appeared away from the series as in television commercials for the Leeds Building Society – Arthur’s pork pie hat and sheepskin coat were in evidence. The series sold all over the world, making it (as Arthur himself would have noted) “a nice little earner” for ITV.

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In 1991 Cole followed the final series of Minder with an appearance as Henry Root in the film dramatisation of The Henry Root Letters. Asked if he minded being typecast as a string of unscrupulous characters he replied: “I think it’s just marvellous to be in work. Before Minder I never really knew where my next job was coming from. Now I’m booked up for the next two years.” His later television work included appearances in staples such as Agatha Christie’s Marple, Midsomer Murders and Heartbeat. In the mid to late-1990s he played in two short-lived sitcoms, first as a lonely pensioner in My Good Friend and then as a cantankerous father in Dad.
He was appointed OBE in 1992.

Omar Sharif

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Date of Birth: 10 April 1932, Alexandria, Egypt
Birth Name: Michel Demitri Chalhoub
Nicknames: Omar Sharif



Omar was introduced to the international screen in one of the most dramatic star entrances of film history. This was the scene in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) in which Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) first makes contact with the Arab chieftain Sherif Ali (Sharif), who will become his key ally in the desert fighting, and the latter, in a daringly protracted sequence, develops from a speck on the horizon into a towering, huge horseman, rifle at the ready.
Sharif was instantly elevated by this debut into a major box-office figure, and went on to star in a succession of big-budget films during the 1960s, most notably the contrasting blockbuster hits Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Funny Girl (1968), as perhaps the last of the “exotic” Hollywood heartthrobs in line of descent from Rudolph Valentino.
This situation, however, proved comparatively short-lived. Almost like the protagonist of a Victorian novel, Sharif was overtaken by his own success, to the extent that in order to service the debts incurred by gambling and a playboy lifestyle, he was thrown back on accepting any work that came his way, and entered a downward spiral into trivial and meretricious movies.

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He was born Michel Chalhoub in Alexandria, the son of well-to-do Lebanese-Syrian Christians, Claire (nee Saada) and Joseph Chalhoub, and educated at a private school and at Cairo University. He worked briefly and reluctantly in his father’s lumber business but fell for the lure of acting, and was delighted when a friend, the director Youssef Chahine, offered him a role in the film Struggle in the Valley (1954). The female star was Faten Hamama, who was greatly taken by her leading man and in the same year became his wife, Sharif converting to Islam in the process. The marriage lasted for 20 years and the couple had a son, Tarek, who was to make a brief appearance in Doctor Zhivago in the guise of Yuri Zhivago’s childhood self.
Sharif became established as a principal figure in Egyptian cinema and also starred in the French-backed Goha (1958), which afforded him wider recognition, if only in the arthouses.

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But it was his selection by the producer Sam Spiegel and the director David Leanto play Sherif Ali in Lawrence of Arabia that proved the turning point in his career. As he later observed: “Maybe if I hadn’t made Lawrence, I would have gone on living in Cairo and had five children and lots of grandchildren.” He blamed the eventual failure of his marriage on the simple fact of his constant absences in Europe and the US.
The role of Sherif Ali was pivotal in the film’s dramatic scheme, and Sharif’s swarthy, romantic aura was played off to great effect against the blue-eyed blondness of O’Toole’s Lawrence. The two became close friends while making the film. Sharif’s performance won him Golden Globe awards as best supporting actor and most promising newcomer, as well as an Academy Award nomination, though he ruefully recalled that he had signed a contract with the studio that netted him only £8,000 for this and several subsequent appearances.

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Fluent in English and French, he worked steadily for the next few years, though as an all-purpose “foreigner”, mainstream cinema never having been especially concerned about precise ethnicity. Thus he played a Spanish priest in Behold a Pale Horse (1964), the title role in a comic-strip historical extravaganza, Genghis Khan (1965), a Yugoslav partisan in The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964), and even, a little later, a Nazi officer, complete with blond-streaked hair, in The Night of the Generals (1967).
But it was as the Russian hero of Lean’s Doctor Zhivago that he achieved his best-remembered screen role, a brooding, magnetic presence, even if some critics felt that the performance, like the whole film, manifested a degree of shallowness.
There was no doubt about his box-office stature, though, and it was revealing that the film version of the musical Funny Girl, which in the theatre had been an unabashed vehicle for Barbra Streisand, was marketed on the basis of her co-starring with Sharif. As the shady gambler Nicky Arnstein, by whom Fanny Brice (Streisand) was enslaved, Sharif was the essence of the homme fatal, and even weighed in with a couple of song numbers. There were rumours at the time that the stars’ relationship had blossomed off-screen too, a notion that was ill received in Sharif’s native land in the light of Streisand’s pro-Israeli sympathies.

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Sharif later admitted that he had briefly imagined himself in love with Streisand, and also recalled being smitten by Ava Gardner, his co-star in Mayerling (1968), in which he brought a suitable intensity to the doomed Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, and Gardner, with some incongruity, played his mother.
Mayerling was hardly a distinguished film, but was considerably superior to some others in which Sharif went on to appear, not least Che! (1969), a dully temporising Hollywood account of the life of Che Guevara, in which at one point Sharif’s Guevara is confronted by Jack Palance’s Fidel Castro with the mumbled expostulation: “Che, sometimes I just don’t understand you.”
The Last Valley (1971) and The Horsemen (1971) were poorly rated would-be spectacles. It seems significant that in the French-made thriller The Burglars (1971), Sharif was cast opposite a contemporary European box-office favourite, Jean-Paul Belmondo, but in the guise of a stereotypical scheming villain, who ends up smothered by Belmondo in a deserted silo under tons of grain, an intimation of the fate that was to befall him professionally as he appeared in increasingly obscure productions.
But there were still one or two brighter spots to come. In 1975 he reprised the role of Arnstein in the Funny Girl sequel, Funny Lady, and the previous year gave one of his most effective, because downplayed, performances, as the captain of a stricken cruise liner in Juggernaut. Of his playing in this film, the American critic Pauline Kael percipiently remarked: “He is not allowed to smile the famous smile, or even to look soulfully lovesick. He is kept rather grim.”
At this time, Sharif was perhaps more readily associated with the game of bridge than with acting. Though he took it up in adult life, he developed into a world-class player. In addition to competing in international tournaments, he wrote a syndicated column on the subject for several years for the Chicago Tribune, was the author of several books on bridge, and licensed his name to a bridge computer game.
He was also an inveterate high-stakes gambler, a regular at the casinos of Paris and elsewhere, and at the racetrack in Deauville. He maintained that claims of his philandering were ill-founded, but his lifestyle certainly encompassed heavy drinking and smoking more than 50 cigarettes a day, at least until he underwent heart bypass surgery in 1993. And the cost was high in financial terms as well.
Professionally, he drifted from one minor role to the next in a run of TV movies and mini-series, often costume dramas of one kind or another, and mostly of the sort only liable to be found at off-peak hours on the more obscure channels. He candidly told a journalist in 2003 that “for 25 years I have been making rubbish movies”.
There were, moreover, some unedifying moments in his private life. In 2003, he headbutted a policeman in a Paris casino rumpus and was subsequently fined and given a suspended jail term, tactlessly telling the press that to assault a cop was “the dream of every Frenchman”. Two years later, he slugged a parking attendant at a Beverly Hills restaurant. He was placed on probation and ordered to pay restitution.
But at least he had returned into the realms of serious acting by taking the leading role in the 2003 French movie Monsieur Ibrahim, in which his characterisation of an elderly Turkish Muslim shopkeeper secured him a best actor César award, the French equivalent of an Oscar.
In 2006 he declared that he had abandoned gambling and even bridge in favour of family life, and described himself as semi-retired from the screen.
In the previous year he had been the recipient of a Unesco medal for contributions to world cinema and cultural diversity. Lawrence and Zhivago might by then have seemed a long way in the past, but despite or possibly even because of the intervening vicissitudes of his life, Sharif’s reputation remained undimmed.

James Best

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Date of Birth: 26 July 1926, Powderly, Kentucky, US
Birth Name: Jewel Franklin Guy
Nicknames: James Best

James Best was best known for his performance as Rosco P Coltrane, the childishly inept sheriff in the American television series The Dukes of Hazzard, which was a fixture of Saturday afternoons on the BBC during the early 1980s.
The role of Sheriff Coltrane probably did not do justice to Best’s talents as a serious actor, but the character with his rustic accent, high-pitched cackle and pet basset hound, Flash was well-loved by fans of the show. The highly formulaic plots typically featured Coltrane as the accomplice and comic foil of the show’s pantomime villain, the fat and avaricious county commissioner Boss Hogg.
Hogg’s criminal schemes brought him into conflict with the Duke family of good-natured country bumpkins Bo and Luke, their attractive cousin Daisy (known for her “short shorts” and played by Catherine Bach) and uncle Jesse giving a pretext for interminable car chases filmed in rural locations in Georgia and latterly in California.

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The son of a Kentucky coal miner, James Best was born Jewel Franklin Guy in humble circumstances at Powderly, a settlement south of Nashville, on July 26 1926. He was the youngest of nine siblings, and the Everly Brothers, Don and Phil, were cousins. His mother died in 1929 and when his father struggled to support the family he spent time in an orphanage before being adopted, and renamed, by Esse and Armen Best, who brought him up at Corydon, Indiana.

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Best began acting while stationed with the military police in Wiesbaden after the war, taking his first role, as a drunk, in My Sister Eileen, a play directed by Arthur Penn, later a leading Hollywood figure.
On his return to the US Best joined touring stock companies before being put under contract by Universal in 1949. Through the 1950s and 1960s he turned up in supporting roles in television series such as The Virginian, Wagon Train, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone and The Andy Griffith Show. He also appeared in a number of films, including three notable westerns starring James Stewart, Winchester ’73 (1950), Shenandoah (1965), set during the Civil War, and Firecreek (1968). In The Left Handed Gun (1958), with Paul Newman, Best was reunited with the director Arthur Penn, making his debut as a feature film director.
In early 1979 Best appeared in the pilot episode of The Dukes of Hazzard, “One-Armed Bandits”. He enjoyed working on the show and formed a close bond with Sorrell Booke, the actor who played Boss Hogg; many of their scenes were improvised. The series ran until 1985, gaining large audiences in both Britain and America, with a film spinoff in 2005 and regular jamborees reuniting the cast members. However, Best fell out with the producers Time Warner reaching an undisclosed settlement over what he felt was his inadequate share of the multi-million dollar profits.

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Best developed a sideline in teaching the technique of film acting; he had posts at the University of Mississippi in the 1970s and, some years later, at the University of Central Florida.
He continued working into old age. In Return of the Killer Shrews (2012) a remake of The Killer Shrews, a 1959 B-movie in which he had starred he played a ship’s captain hired by a reality television show to deliver passengers to an island populated by giant mutant shrews.
He wrote a play, Hell Bent for Good Times, a comedy about a family living through the Depression, and published a memoir, Best in Hollywood: The God, the Bad and the Beautiful (2009). James Best retired to Hickory, North Carolina, where he spent happy hours fishing on the lake.

Leonard Nimoy

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Date of Birth: 26 March 1931, Boston, Massachusetts, US
Birth Name: Leonard Simon Nimoy
Nicknames: Leonard Nimoy

Few actors outside soap opera become defined by a single role to the exclusion of all else in their career. But that was the case for Leonard Nimoy, who has died aged 83. He did not simply play Mr Spock, first officer of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek he was synonymous with him, even after taking on other parts and branching out into directing and photography.
Star Trek began life on television, running for three series between 1966 and 1969, and later spawned numerous spin-offs, including a run of films of varying quality, two of which (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, from 1984, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, from 1986) Nimoy directed. “I’m very proud of having been connected with the show,” he wrote in 1975. “I felt that it dealt with morality and philosophical questions in a way that many of us would wish were part of the reality of our lives.”

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In front of the camera, as the half-human, half-Vulcan Spock, he captured with delicious wit the tensions in the character. Spock’s logical, detached perspective could be infuriating to his more demonstrative colleagues; it also caused him to be amused or bewildered by the workings of humans. This could play out humorously or poignantly. He was uniquely placed, for example, to analyse coolly our emotional shortcomings: “It is curious how often you humans manage to obtain that which you do not want,” he mused in the first series. His dry rapport with the more passionate, full-blooded Captain James T Kirk (William Shatner) was a pleasure that endured long after the Star Trek brand itself showed signs of having been around the galaxy a few too many times.
Once seen, Spock was never forgotten. The hair, boot-polish black, was snipped short with a severe, straight fringe; it looked more like headgear than a haircut, more painted on than grown. An inch of forehead separated that fringe from a pair of sabre-like eyebrows that arched extravagantly upwards. These came in handy for conveying what the reserved Spock could not always express verbally. “The first thing I learned was that a raised eyebrow can be very effective,” said Nimoy.

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Spock’s defining physical feature, though, was his pointed ears. The actor’s first reaction upon seeing them was: “If this doesn’t work, it could be a bad joke.” Sharply tapered but in no way pixieish, the ears somehow never undermined his gravitas. Or rather, Nimoy’s sober disposition precluded laughter. Besides, in a show suffused with messages of inclusivity and tolerance, it would never do for audiences to laugh at someone just because he came from Vulcan.
Nimoy contributed key details to the character, including the traditional Vulcan greeting: a hand held up and the four fingers parted to create a V. This was inspired by prayer gestures witnessed by the young Nimoy at synagogue.
He would later title his 1975 memoir I Am Not Spock. “I was trying to illuminate the actor’s process in creating a character. I talked about the fact that I grew up in Boston and Spock did not. My parents were Russian immigrants; Spock’s were not. I’m an actor who portrays this character.” He conceded, though, that the title had been a mistake and had given the erroneous impression that he was trying to shrug off his best-known role. He made amends by calling the 1995 follow-up I Am Spock.

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Nimoy was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Max, a barber, and Dora, and showed an interest in acting from a young age (though his father tried to persuade him to take up the accordion instead). He studied drama at Boston College and began to get small parts in theatre, film and television. At 20 he was cast in the lead role of a young boxer in the 1952 film Kid Monk Baroni, and discovered a kind of sanctuary in the prosthetics he was required to wear. “I found a home behind that makeup,” he wrote in I Am Not Spock. “I was much more confident and comfortable than I would have been, had I been told I was to play ‘a handsome young man’.”
Nimoy did military service from 1953 to 1955, during which time one of his duties was producing army talent shows. He continued acting after leaving the army and in the early 1960s began teaching acting classes, while also starring in guest roles on television series including Bonanza, Rawhide and The Twilight Zone. He established his own acting studio where he taught for three years.
Nimoy auditioned for an earlier Gene Roddenberry project, and when Roddenberry created Star Trek he thought of him for the role of Spock. “I thought it would be a challenge,” Nimoy said. “As an actor, my training had been in how to use my emotions, and here was a character who had them all locked up.”

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After 79 episodes across three series, the NBC network cancelled the show because of its low ratings. Nimoy went straight into another regular gig a role on the light-hearted spy series Mission: Impossible and then began studying photography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He would later publish photographic studies including Shekhina (2002), a celebration of spirituality and sexuality in Judaism, and The Full Body Project (2007), focused on unorthodox female body sizes.

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His acting work in the 1970s included a chilling performance in Philip Kaufman’s intelligent 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In 1979, he returned to play Spock in the rather leaden Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He would do so in a further seven Star Trek films. Among them were Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). He was the only original cast member to appear in JJ Abrams’s instalments of the revived or “rebooted” franchise, Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). His appearance in the first of those Abrams films, as the older Spock coming face to face with his younger self (Zachary Quinto), was deeply affecting and played with characteristic restraint. He also revived Spock in two 1991 episodes (“Unification I” and “Unification II”) of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and in animated and computer-game incarnations of Star Trek.

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If Nimoy never escaped association with Spock, it was not for want of trying. He wrote seven poetry collections, released several albums and established himself as a successful and varied director. Alongside his two Star Trek movies, he directed himself in a TV movie version of the one-man play Vincent (1981), about the life of Van Gogh. He scored an international box-office hit with 3 Men and a Baby (1987). He also made the drama The Good Mother (1988), starring Diane Keaton and Liam Neeson, as well as two disappointing comedies, Funny About Love (1990) and Holy Matrimony (1994).

Louis Jourdan

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Date of Birth: 19 June 1921, Marseille, France
Birth Name: Louis Robert Gendre
Nicknames: Louis Jourdan

For audiences in the 1940s and 50s, Louis Jourdan’s incredible good looks and mellifluous Gallic purr seemed to sum up everything that was sexy and enticing about Frenchmen. As a result, he became the most sought-after French actor since Charles Boyer. Though perhaps this hampered him, stymying opportunities to extend his dramatic range, any actor who was constantly in demand by both French studios and Hollywood producers had a lot to be grateful for.

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When Jourdan played the consummate bon vivant in Vincente Minnelli’s Gigi (1958), he became an international celebrity. The film, which co-starred Maurice Chevalier and Leslie Caron, won nine Oscars, including best picture. Though the best-known of its Lerner and Loewe numbers was Chevalier’s Thank Heaven for Little Girls, the title song went to Jourdan. He later widened the breadth of his work, and in old age was still one of the most handsome men on the screen, even if the films themselves seldom matched the fineness of his looks.
He was born in Marseilles, one of the three sons of Henri Gendre, a hotelier who organised the Cannes film festival after the second world war, and Yvonne, from whose maiden name, Jourdan, Louis took his stage name. The family followed Henri’s work, which accounted for the ease with which he was later able to perform overseas. He was educated in France, Turkey and Britain, where he learned to speak perfect English with an accent that he was clever enough to realise he should keep superbly French.

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Jourdan, who knew from early on that he was going to be an actor, studied under René Simon in Paris. Admired for his dramatic talent and a certain polish that no one could readily explain, he was cast in his film debut, Le Corsaire (1939), which starred Boyer, though the outbreak of the second world war prevented its completion. He went on to appear in L’Arlésienne (1942) before his career was interrupted by the Nazi occupation of France.
His father was arrested by the Gestapo, and Louis and his two brothers were active members of the resistance, whose work for the underground meant that he had to stay away from the studios. But it also resulted in his becoming a favourite of the resurgent French postwar film industry. At a time when many had worked on films that had served to help Marshal Pétain’s propaganda campaign and stars such as Chevalier were being accused of collaboration – it was easy to promote a star who had actively worked against the Nazis.
In 1946, Jourdan married Berthe Frédérique (known as Quique) and went to Los Angeles, having been persuaded by the movie mogul David O Selznick that he would be able to make more of himself in Hollywood than he ever could in Paris. He shone in his first American film, The Paradine Case (1947), directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Gregory Peck. This was followed by Max Ophüls’s masterly Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), based on the story by Stefan Zweig. Jourdan played the debonair, womanising pianist with whom Joan Fontaine falls hopelessly and tragically in love. He invested the performance with a vulnerability that saved his character from being simply caddish.

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In Minnelli’s 1949 film of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, he starred as the lover of the adulterous anti-heroine, played by Jennifer Jones. He returned to France for Rue de l’Estrapade (1953) and La Mariée Est Trop Belle (The Bride Is Too Beautiful, released with the title Her Bridal Night, 1956), the latter with Brigitte Bardot, while in Italy he appeared in Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), its title referring to the Trevi fountain in Rome. His image as the light romantic lead was burnished in that film, and his status as such was sealed by Gigi, which made him the No 1 pin-up of sophisticated American women.
He had a similar role in Can-Can (1960), which starred Frank Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine and Chevalier. There followed continental roles in Hollywood productions: as a playboy in The VIPs (1963) and a fashion designer in Made in Paris (1966).

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He had made his Broadway debut, playing a repressed gay man embarking on marriage, in an adaptation of André Gide’s The Immoralist, in 1954. The production co-starred Geraldine Page and James Dean, before Dean’s movie breakthrough. The following year, Jourdan returned to the New York stage in Tonight in Samarkand. He soon let it be known that he wanted more serious film roles and was not getting enough of them. In 1961 he took the lead in Claude Autant-Lara’s Le Comte de Monte Cristo and, in 1975, he appeared in a British TV movie production of Alexandre Dumas’s novel, this time playing De Villefort to Richard Chamberlain’s Count. Two years later, he was D’Artagnan in The Man in the Iron Mask on TV, again opposite Chamberlain.
He played Dracula in a 1977 BBC TV adaptation and an Afghan prince in the James Bond adventure Octopussy (1983), but few of his later roles showed the range of his talents. Certainly, Swamp Thing (1982) and The Return of Swamp Thing (1989) were not the sort of movies that the Gigi star would want to be remembered for. In the mid-80s he returned to Gigi, this time in Chevalier’s role, for a touring show; he replied to the criticism that he lip-synched songs by saying: “If I sang them live, the fragile little voice I have would go.”
Jourdan’s final film appearance came as a suave villain in Peter Yates’s caper about a rare bottle of wine, Year of the Comet (1992). In 2010 he was appointed to the Légion d’Honneur.

Christopher Wray

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Date of Birth: 8 March 1940, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK
Birth Name: Christopher John David Wray
Nicknames: Christopher Wray

Christopher Wray, was an out-of-work young actor when he discovered a passion for antique lamps; he went on to become the head of his own multi-million-pound domestic lighting business.
Trying to make ends meet during an actors’ strike in the early 1960s, he started selling vintage lamps from a stall in Chelsea Antiques Market. Having made his first sale with a Victorian paraffin oil lamp with a round white globe, he started buying similar ones from junk shops at the Fulham end of the King’s Road, giving five shillings (25p) each for them before polishing them up and selling them for £3.
“The people at the Chelsea end of the King’s Road would not be seen dead frequenting the shops at the Fulham end, so I was doing them a service,” he explained.
As the business evolved Wray started to sell traditional oil lamps that had been converted to run off electricity, but as these became increasingly difficult to find he began to make them himself.
In 1964 he opened his first shop on the King’s Road just as the famous thoroughfare was sprouting trendy boutiques and becoming a focal point and shop window for the new “swinging” London. Dudley Moore would occasionally drop in to play the harmonium that Wray kept in his store. Although a friend at the London School of Economics predicted Wray would go broke within a year, business was brisk from the outset, and when Wray found that his first week’s takings were enough to cover the rent for the year, he called a halt to his acting career, even turning down a permanent role in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale Farm.

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The business continued to grow with Wray opening his own workshops in Chelsea and Birmingham. At one stage he had more than 20 shops around Britain, making his firm the largest dedicated lighting retailer in the country, and cornering the niche upper end of the market.
At his grandiose King’s Road shop, with its wide stairs sweeping down to the lower floor and enormous spreading palms, Wray was renowned for his vast range of Victorian lights and Tiffany-style shades, but with the arrival of low-voltage LED he also moved into retro and contemporary lighting.
The son of an agricultural engineer who serviced ploughs and tractors, Christopher John David Wray was born on March 8 1940 in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Sent to Abingdon School in Oxfordshire at the age of 11, he abandoned his A-level studies in 1957, planning, aged 17, to become Britain’s youngest professional magician. He took a summer job on the promenade at Bridlington as assistant to a balloon-toting clown called Windy Blow and performed magic tricks during his show.
When the season ended, he turned to acting, and after training at the Italia Conti school in London was cast in television shows such as Upstairs, Downstairs, Doctor Who and Z Cars. In 1963 he played the part of the Fat Boy in the West End production of the musical Pickwick, starring Harry Secombe.
During a spell organising stage props for Tommy Cooper and Arthur Askey, Wray developed a taste for antiques and bric-a-brac. As assistant stage manager for a repertory company touring Ireland, it was his job to scour junk shops for props, and, when an actors’ strike made it difficult to get work in London, a friend suggested he hire a stall in Chelsea Antiques Market and sell the bric-a-brac he had collected for himself.
A year or so later, Wray heard that a post office on the King’s Road was closing down. With a loan of £1,000 from his mother, he reopened it as a specialist lighting shop, but being unable to afford £4,000 to buy the freehold, rented it for £750 a year . Wray employed runners to track down new stock and was soon turning over £45 a week, most of it profit. He scoured flea markets in Paris in search of stock and in Ireland became known as the Lamp Man by tinkers with whom he haggled over price.
When customers started asking for replacement glass shades and chimneys for their antique lamps because originals were hard to find, Wray moved into manufacturing. He discovered old moulds at a Yorkshire glass works, Hailwood and Ackroyd, and persuaded the firm to produce shades for him. Another factory in Birmingham supplied replacement brass parts. As he expanded by buying up more shops around his own by the late 1970s he had no fewer than 10 outlets on the King’s Road alone he consolidated his business in a single large, purpose-built emporium in 1990.

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By 1992 the Christopher Wray Lighting Emporium in the King’s Road was said to be the largest decorative lighting shop in Europe, selling a range of more than 5,000 different lamps and light fittings. The company owned 14 shops around the country, two factories and employed more than 240 people. In 2005 he opened a northern branch shop in Manchester, a theatrical space of glass and high ceilings where he also sold modern and contemporary classic furniture, as Christopher Wray became a “lifestyle brand”.
In his spare time he combined his love for adventure, travel and vintage cars by taking part in rallies to India, Iran, Pakistan and China.
With his personal fortune he bought a huge Edwardian house in Putney, moving some 10 years ago to a contemporary Thames-side penthouse apartment.

John Bardon

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Date of Birth: 25 August 1939, Brentford, Middlesex, UK
Birth Name: John Michael Jones
Nicknames: John Bardon

When the actor John Bardon, who has died aged 75, took on the role of EastEnders' grumpy grandad Jim Branning, he succeeded in turning the figure of a lazy, selfish and bigoted Londoner into one of the BBC soap's most lovable characters. Jim was a regular in the Queen Vic pub, who had a weakness for gambling but married the fictional Albert Square's gossip and minder of morals, Dot Cotton, until ill-health saw her dispatch him to a care home.
The balding, crumple-faced actor, often seen wearing a cloth cap, first appeared in the serial in 1996, when Jim arrived in Walford for his daughter April's wedding. When she was jilted at the altar, his other daughter, Carol, and her boyfriend, Alan Jackson, got married in their place, but Jim stormed out because he disapproved of her marrying a black man.

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Three years later, Bardon returned in the role as a regular. Jim worked in the Queen Vic as a potman and mellowed after meeting the Bible-thumping Dot. He proposed to her on the London Eye and the couple married on Valentine's Day 2002. He nursed Dot when she had kidney cancer, but himself became the patient after suffering a stroke in 2007. The storyline was written into the soap after Bardon himself had a stroke. The actor was unable to walk for six months, but returned to EastEnders for a short run in 2008 and permanently the following year. However, he was written out in 2011 as his health deteriorated.
Bardon was born John Michael Jones in Brentford, Middlesex, a week before the outbreak of the second world war, and brought up in Chelsea. His father became a shipping clerk for an insurance company after his building business went bust. On leaving school, Bardon had various jobs, including working at Austin Reed in Regent Street, London, before becoming an industrial designer. However, his ambition was to act and, after performing in pubs with an amateur group, The Taverners, and touring Germany and Austria with a civil service drama company, he turned professional at the age of 30. He adopted his grandmother's maiden name, Bardon, and his first work was with a repertory company in Exeter.
He progressed to small roles in Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Titus Andronicus with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon (1972) before playing Demetrius in its production of Antony and Cleopatra (Stratford, 1972, and Aldwych theatre, 1973). He also acted the spiv Private Walker in the stage version of Dad's Army (1975-76).

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After appearing as Sgt Comrie Milbrau in the musical The Good Companions (1974), based on JB Priestley's novel a role played by the music-hall comedian Max Miller in an earlier film version Bardon had the idea of playing the Cheeky Chappie himself in a one-man show. The result was his tour de force, Here's a Funny Thing, written by RW Shakespeare, which Bardon performed at the Liverpool Playhouse and Edinburgh festival, then in the West End of London (1982). The stage show was also broadcast by Channel 4.
Further recognition came when he jointly won (with his fellow cast member Emil Wolk) the Olivier Award for outstanding performance by an actor in a musical for his role as the gangster Max O'Hagan in an RSC production of Kiss Me Kate (1987).
After making his television debut in the play A Man Against His Age (1970), Bardon took one-off character roles in dozens of dramas and comedies. He was a regular as the comedian Jim Davidson's father in the sitcom Up the Elephant and Round the Castle (1983-85) and Bernie Sweet Ray Winstone and Larry Lamb's father in the first series (1992) of Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran's recession comedy Get Back. He also appeared four times (1987-92) as the villain Fred Timson in Rumpole of the Bailey.
Bardon's films included One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing (1975), Clockwise (1986), 84 Charing Cross Road (1987), Fierce Creatures (1997) and East Is East (1999).
Following decades of battling to keep in work before joining EastEnders, the actor was modest about his achievements. "I don't regard myself as a soap star there is no such bleedin' thing," he said in 2003. "I'm an actor who is appearing in a soap. They all think they are bleedin' stars, but they ain't when they leave here. More often than not they disappear."

Sir Donald Sinden

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Date of Birth: 9 October 1923, St. Budeaux, Plymouth, UK
Birth Name: Donald Alfred Sinden
Nicknames: Donald Sinden

Sir Donald Sinden was variously described as “orotund and declamatory”, “magnificently resonant” and “a complete ham”; his talents, admittedly, owed little to method acting, but made him one of the best and most recognisable comedy actors on the circuit.
In a career which spanned 50 years of film and theatre Sinden, to his lasting irritation, became best-known for his work in television, a medium he deplored. But his establishment English demeanour provided perfect casting for comedies exploiting cultural or class differences.
He became a household name when he starred with Elaine Stritch in the LWT sitcom Two’s Company (1975-79), in which he played the feisty American grande dame’s inept English butler. He later repeated his success in the Thames Television sitcom Never the Twain (1981-91), in which he played an upper-crust antique dealer forced into business with a downmarket rival (played by Windsor Davies).
His success on television meant that Sinden’s other achievements, in the film and theatre world, were often overlooked.

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During the 1950s, he immersed himself in cinema work, appearing in more than 20 films, including The Cruel Sea (1953), in which he shared top-billing with Jack Hawkins, and Mogambo (1954), a huge safari epic in which Sinden received fourth billing after Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly, as Kelly’s cuckolded gorilla-hunting husband.
When the British film industry stalled in the 1960s, Sinden’s film career stalled with it. By the end of that decade, however, he had secured a place for himself at the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he gave critically acclaimed performances in leading roles including as the Duke of York in The Wars of the Roses (1963), opposite Peggy Ashcroft as Queen Margaret; Lord Foppington in The Relapse (1967); and as King Lear (for which he won the 1977 Evening Standard Award for Best Actor). In 1979 he played the title role in Othello, directed by Ronald Eyre, becoming the last “blacked-up” white actor to play the role for the RSC.
The theatre was always Sinden’s true home, and in the 1980s his passionate interest in its history led to the establishment of the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden. Another great passion was English church architecture, his encyclopedic knowledge of which led to both a television series, The English Country Church, in 1988, and a book on the subject. “My grandfather was an architect,” Sinden explained, “and it was he who told me always to look up. That’s where all the best things are in churches.”
By the 1980s Sinden was firmly established as a television celebrity, a position consolidated by the regular appearances of a Sinden puppet on ITV’s satirical Spitting Image. The puppet represented Sinden as a grotesque parody of “the actor’s actor” posturing theatrically and endlessly pleading for a knighthood.
Sinden was not amused by the caricature. “When have I ever suggested I wanted a knighthood?” he asked. “I don’t watch the programme because I don’t find it in the least funny.” He would accept a well-deserved knighthood in 1997.
Donald Sinden was born in Plymouth on October 9 1923. He suffered constantly from asthma as a child and as a result missed most of his schooling. “I not only did not pass an examination,” he recalled, “I never took one.” At 16 he became an apprentice joiner to a Hove firm which manufactured revolving doors. “I earned 6s 6d a week,” he said, “and enjoyed it enormously.”
Sinden claimed that he had no aspirations towards acting until he was 18. “My cousin Frank was called up for the RAF,” he remembered. “He asked me if I’d do his part in an amateur production at Brighton Little Theatre.” Donald was talent-spotted by Charles Smith, who organised the Mobile Entertainments Southern Area company (known as MESA), a local version of the wartime entertainments service Ensa. “Of course I thought he wanted me because I was miraculous,” Sinden remembered, “but I know now it was because it was wartime and he couldn’t get anyone else.”
Rejected by the Navy because of his poor health, Sinden joined Charles Smith’s company in 1941. “I stayed an actor because I was awfully interested in girls,” Sinden explained. “Actresses were a lot better looking than joiners.” After four years with MESA he spent six months in Leicester with a repertory company and two terms at the Webber Douglas School of Dramatic Art.
Donald Sinden joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon for the 1946-47 season. In October 1947 he made his West End debut as Aumerle in Richard II, and in 1948 joined the Bristol Old Vic. He left Bristol to appear as Arthur Townsend in The Heiress, an adaptation of Henry James’s Washington Square. Sinden had nine lines and appeared in all 644 performances of the show.

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In 1952 he was noticed by the film director Charles Frend while playing the Brazilian Manuel Del Vega in Red Letter Day. “Charles Frend spotted me,” Sinden remembered. “He said he’d always wanted to meet a blue-eyed Brazilian.”
The following year Sinden joined the Rank Organisation and was offered the part of Lieutenant Lockhart in The Cruel Sea, for which he had to spend an uncomfortable 12 weeks filming at sea.
He recalled his time in Africa filming Mogambo as the least enjoyable of his career, largely because of its director, John Ford, whom Sinden described as “the most dislikable man I ever met”. He was particularly irritated by Ford’s peremptory direction techniques: “On one occasion he had Clark Gable backing towards a cliff. Ford kept shouting 'Further back!’ and Gable just disappeared over the edge. We found him stuck in a tree 15ft below.”
After playing Tony Benskin, a womanising medical student in Doctor in the House (1954), Sinden began to find himself being typecast in comic roles. He played Benskin and characters like him for the next eight years.
When the British film industry began to falter in the early Sixties, Sinden’s film career ended. “It was a bad time for me,” he said. “I was 40, married with two children and no work at all.” His first attempts at a return to the theatre were unsuccessful. He was turned down after Peter Hall had made him audition for the RSC. Sinden later described Hall as a “pipsqueak”.
However, after their initial differences Sinden joined the company and appeared in The Wars of the Roses, an epic amalgam of the relevant Shakespeare history plays, put together by Hall and John Barton, which lasted more than 10 hours and won ecstatic reviews.
Sinden went on to make a name for himself as a comedian and farceur. He appeared as Robert Danvers in There’s a Girl in My Soup at the Aldwych in 1966, and won Best Actor awards for his appearances in the Ray Cooney farces Not Now, Darling (1967), Two into One (1984) and Out of Order (1990). In 1976 he was nominated for a Best Actor Tony Award for his performance on Broadway as Arthur Wicksteed in Alan Bennett’s Habeas Corpus.

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In 1989 Sinden was offered the opportunity to play his long-time hero Oscar Wilde, whose work had always fascinated him, in John Gay’s one-man show Diversions and Delights. In 1942, at a poetry club reading, Sinden had met Lord Alfred Douglas and had been one of the few mourners at his funeral. Thirty years later, when Wilde’s London home was being demolished, Sinden bought the fireplace for his own house in Hampstead.
Sinden continued to perform well into his eighties. From 2001 to 2007 he played Sir Joseph Channing in BBC Television’s legal drama Judge John Deed (starring Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove), and he recently appeared in the Gideon Fell mysteries on Radio 4.
Donald Sinden published two volumes of autobiography, A Touch of the Memoirs (1982) and Laughter in the Second Act (1985).
He was appointed CBE in 1979.

Sid Ceasar

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Date of Birth: 8 September 1922, Yonkers, New York, US
Birth Name: Isaac Sidney Ceasar
Nicknames: Sid Ceasar

Sid Caesar became the best-known comedian on American television in the 1950s; but while his innovative and influential Your Show Of Shows was credited with accelerating indeed arguably creating the postwar surge in sales of television sets in the United States, he subsequently spent two decades battling drink and drug addiction.
First broadcast in February 1950, Caesar’s live Saturday night variety series was an enormous hit with the American viewing public. At first blush the smorgasbord of ingredients seemed an unlikely mix: comic sketches, ballet, modern dance, popular music and even operatic numbers. Caesar would appear as an “interviewing reporter” in comedy skits with his co-star Imogene Coca, and alone in "double-talk" monologues or pantomime.
When Caesar made his breakthrough, television comedy as an art form was still in its infancy. A New York-based concept, the genre featured (mostly Jewish) comedians and writers whose edgy, urban sophistication did not always chime with the plainer fare preferred by the American mid-West, where many were only just starting to trade in their radios for television sets. With Caesar’s 90-minute weekly Saturday night show, small-screen comedy came of age.

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Using mostly his own material, Caesar drew on his observations of everyday life, making use of the comedy of situation or character rather than the gag or wisecrack, so prefiguring the emergence of the sitcom. By modern lights, the humour lacked edge. “There were so many things we couldn’t do,” Caesar later recalled. “It was the 1950s. Everything had to be squeaky clean. So it made us work harder and made us think deeper.”
A talented cast of comedy writers, including Woody Allen and Mel Brooks, also contributed, cutting their teeth before setting the comic agenda for American popular culture for two decades to come. So did the playwright Neil Simon, and the authors of the two longest-running 1960s Broadway musicals, Joseph Stein (Fiddler on the Roof) and Michael Stewart (Hello, Dolly!). Between 1954 and 1958 Caesar also starred in his own domestic comedy series Caesar’s Hour, the prototype of countless imitations, with his “wives” including Nanette Fabray and Janet Blair.
But then he vanished almost entirely into what he called his “20-year blackout” while he struggled with addiction. It turned out that (unbeknown to even his closest colleagues) Caesar was already an alcoholic when he burst through to television stardom. Earning $1 million a year at the age of 30, he later admitted to destroying himself with two bottles of Scotch a night, followed later by an addiction to barbiturates and tranquillisers.
As he battled his demons, an ordeal later chronicled in his memoir Where Have I Been? (1983), Caesar would tear basins out of the bathrooms in his mansion on Long Island. In 1978 he spent four months in bed, secretly ordering beer whenever his wife turned her back.
From time to time he would emerge to make a guest appearance on other people’s television shows and he remained a close friend of Mel Brooks, appearing in his films Silent Movie (1976) and History Of The World Part One (1981).
Isaac Sidney Caesar was born on September 8 1922 in Yonkers, New York, where his Austrian-born father, Max, owned a 24-hour diner. From his Riussian mother and the Italian and Polish building workers who patronised the restaurant, the youngster developed a good comedian’s ear for dialect. He learned his trademark “double-talk”, a stream of nonsense sounding plausibly like a foreign language, from listening to his parents’ immigrant clientèle.
Enrolling at the Franklin and Hawthorne junior high schools, he worked after classes to pay for lessons on the saxophone at the Juilliard School of Music. As a Yonkers high school student, he played at school dances and, in 1939, on graduating, went in search of work as a musician.
In 1942 he enlisted in the US Coastguard and was assigned to pier duty in Brooklyn where he wrote sketches for Six On, Twelve Off, a musical later produced as a coastguard show. He got a part in another successful coastguard musical, Tars And Spars, and was the only member of the cast to be used when Columbia made a film of it in 1946.

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In 1945 he made his first nightclub appearance at the Copacabana in New York playing saxophone in a swing band. When he started adding jokes to his music-making, he became a regular cabaret fixture in the so-called Borscht Belt, the tourist area in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York where the resort hotels booked Jewish comedians like Jackie Mason and Jerry Lewis to entertain some of the toughest audiences in America.
Caesar appeared in the 1948 revue Make Mine Manhattan and won the Donaldson award for the best debut performance in a Broadway musical.
His television debut as a relative unknown in the 1949 hour-long weekly Admiral Broadway Revue, which included Imogene Coca, was abruptly cancelled after 19 weeks when the sponsors, the Admiral electronics firm, complained that they were having to retool their factory to meet the surge in demand for television sets 10,000 a week instead of the 500 they were geared up to produce on account of the show’s success.
But within a year this backhanded triumph had led directly to Your Show Of Shows. As the series grew in popularity, Caesar mentored many younger American comedy writers; Neil Simon later based his 1993 play Laughter on the 23rd Floor on his experiences. When Caesar took on the unknown Mel Brooks, and paid him $5,000 a week, the future star comedy writer introduced himself as a Jewish pirate: “You know how much they’re charging for sailcloth these days?… I can’t afford to pillage and rape anymore.”
Caesar’s Your Show of Shows ran for four years (1950-54), and was also the inspiration for the Peter O’Toole film My Favourite Year (1982). For Caesar’s Hour, the staff writers were augmented by, among others, Neil Simon’s elder brother Danny, and Larry Gelbart, who would later create the hit television show M*A*S*H.

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Caesar’s other film appearances included Tars and Spars (1946); The Guilt Of Janet Ames (1947); It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963); A Guide For The Married Man and The Busy Body (both 1967); Ten From Your Show Of Shows (1973), Airport 75, Grease and The Cheap Detective (1978), and The Fiendish Plot Of Dr Fu Manchu (1980) in which he played an FBI agent trying to track down the Chinese arch-villain.
Caesar eventually overcame his addictions, thanks to a self-help regime he loosely described as “spontaneous Jungian analysis”. In a second volume of memoirs, Caesar’s Hours (2003), he admired the way his heroes, great comedians of the silent film era like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.

Shirley Temple

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Date of Birth: 23 April 1928, Santa Monica, California, US
Birth Name: Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple was the screen’s most popular child star of the 1930s, receiving at the age of eight 135,000 birthday gifts from fans the world over.
Throughout the Depression years, her sunny disposition helped audiences forget their woes and a special Oscar was presented to her for “bringing more happiness to millions of children and millions of grown-ups than any other child of her years in the history of the world”. It might have turned many a tiny tot’s head, but Shirley had her mother constantly at her side to ensure she was kept on an even keel.
Gertrude Temple was the architect of Shirley’s career, masterminding every aspect, every contract, what she ate, when she slept. Before each take, she would coach her, ignoring the director, and give her last-minute instructions. “Sparkle, Shirley,” she would say. A shrewd businesswoman, she knew instinctively how to manipulate the studios and their publicity machines to her daughter’s advantage. For good or ill, she turned little Shirley into a phenomenon. Everything she did was news. In October 1936, the world gasped as a bulletin flashed over the Reuter wires: “Shirley Temple has been sent to bed with a slight fever resulting from a cold.”

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She was acting in pictures from the age of four and rapidly captivated filmgoers with her blond ringlets and dimpled charm. Dolls, books and games were named after her in a merchandising campaign matched only by Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. Yet her talent was modest. She sang off-key and cynics dismissed her dancing as “mere jigging up and down”. She liked to do impersonations but her acting was generally regarded as cute rather than compelling.
She had the child star’s built-in self-destruct mechanism what had seemed peachy in a moppet became arch in adolescence. Attempts to extend her career into young womanhood were unsuccessful and she made her last film in 1949 washed up in Hollywood at 21.
Yet that was not the end of the Shirley Temple story. Against all sceptics’ expectations, the little girl who had never had a normal childhood matured into a distinguished politician and diplomat. She stood (unsuccessfully) for Congress before representing America at the United Nations and serving as US ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia under her married name of Shirley Temple Black.
She was born on April 23 1928 in Santa Monica, California, the daughter of a bank teller. Like many a proud mother, Gertrude Temple enrolled her child in dancing classes at the age of three and promoted her vigorously. A talent scout from Educational Pictures, a small company specialising in shorts, spotted Shirley and invited her for a screen test, which led to her appearance in 1932-33 in a string of film spoofs known as Baby Burlesks. Among them were The Incomparable More Legs Sweetrick (as Marlene Dietrich), The Pie-Covered Wagon and Polly-Tix in Washington.
She alternated these performances with small parts in now forgotten feature movies such as The Red-Haired Alibi (1932) and To the Last Man (1933), opposite Randolph Scott. While filming a second series of shorts for Educational under the title Frolics of Youth, she and her mother were approached by the much bigger Fox Film Corporation (later Twentieth Century-Fox) with a view to Shirley featuring in the film Stand Up and Cheer (1934). She passed the audition and was signed up for $150 a week. When the film opened, she stole the show with the song and dance routine Baby Take a Bow.
Recognising her star potential, Fox swung its publicity department into action. But it did not have her under exclusive contract. Earlier in the year, the astute Mrs Temple had forged a two-picture deal with Paramount and it was that studio that initially reaped the benefit of her sudden fame. It rushed her into two pictures in 1934 to fulfil the contract Little Miss Marker, based on a Damon Runyan story, and Now and Forever, in which she was the go-between who reunites an estranged couple played by Gary Cooper and Carole Lombard.
On the strength of these pictures, Shirley’s Fox contract was renegotiated to $1,250 a week. She was cast in Bright Eyes, where she sang one of the songs indelibly associated with her, On the Good Ship Lollipop, and from then on vehicles were written especially for her. By the end of 1934, aged six, she was the eighth biggest draw in America.
A year later, she was number one and held that position four years in a row, attracting more fan mail than Greta Garbo and being photographed more often than the President himself. “I class myself with Rin Tin Tin,” she volunteered brightly.
She churned out pictures at a tremendous lick sometimes five a year through the late-1930s and the public clamoured for more. Features included, in 1935, The Little Colonel, Curly Top, a remake of Daddy Long Legs, and The Littlest Rebel, in which she told Abraham Lincoln that he was almost nice enough to be a Confederate. The 1936 clutch had Captain January, Dimples and Poor Little Rich Girl, while in 1937, the title role in an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Wee Willie Winkie was changed from boy to girl especially to accommodate her.
Her work in this film led to a notorious libel suit involving the future novelist Graham Greene, then employed as a film critic by the magazine Night and Day. At a cocktail party, after what he later described as “a dangerous third Martini” Greene dreamt up the idea of deflating the Temple balloon, but he peppered his review of her performance in Wee Willie Winkie with such litigious terms as “bilious coquetry”, “dimpled depravity” and “mature suggestiveness”.
Shirley and Twentieth Century-Fox sued. In court in March, 1938, Sir Patrick Hastings, counsel for the plaintiffs, was too mortified to bring himself to utter Greene’s words. “In my view”, he said, “it is one of the most horrible libels that one can imagine about a child. I shall not read it is better I should not but a glance at the statement of claim ... is sufficient to show the nature of the libel. This beastly publication appeared but it is right to say that every respectable news distributor in London refused to be party to its sale.”
The plaintiffs won; $5,250 punitive damages were awarded to Fox, $7,000 to the actress and Night and Day folded. But as a postscript to the episode, the mature Shirley Temple bore the novelist no grudge. In 1989, she sent him an inscribed copy of her autobiography, Child Star, and invited him to tea.

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The year 1938 marked the high-water mark of her popularity. She appeared in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (without ringlets for the first time), in Little Miss Broadway and Just around the Corner at a fee of $100,000 a picture, which made her Hollywood’s highest-paid earner after Louis B Mayer. By 1939 he fee had jumped to $300,000, but public taste was changing. Susannah and the Mounties was disappointing and The Blue Bird was, by common consent, a “turkey”.
MGM had wanted to borrow her for The Wizard of Oz, but Fox refused, casting her instead in what it hoped would be a rival children’s attraction . But Maeterlinck’s arty symbolism in The Blue Bird found no favour with the public. It opened in selected cinemas a few days before Christmas 1939, but proved such a dud that it had to be withdrawn after only a few days and replaced by a Sonja Henie ice-skating musical. When generally released in 1940, The Blue Bird met with no warmer response, becoming Shirley’s first unmitigated flop.
Gertrude Temple blamed Fox and offered to buy out the remainder of Shirley’s contract. Fox raised no objections and, at the age of 11, she took a “sabbatical” from the cinema, ostensibly to repair gaps in her patchy education. Though her vocabulary was officially said to be 750 words, “all of which she can write”, she had trouble with numbers over 50. According to her teacher, she still thought 47 cents was more than 55 cents.
In fact, Shirley’s absence from the screen was an opportunity for her mother to negotiate a fresh contract with another studio. She picked MGM, but it was not a happy choice. The studio was grooming its own child prodigy in Judy Garland and found only one vehicle for Shirley, the lacklustre Kathleen (1941). Roger Edens, who was Garland’s coach, let it be known that Shirley would have to put in a lot of singing and dancing practice if she hoped to be worthy of the studio. Mrs Temple took umbrage and took off.
After a remake of a Mary Pickford picture, Miss Annie Rooney (1942) at United Artists, Shirley gravitated to David O Selznick, who signed her to a seven-year contract, but as a teenager she could no longer command lead roles. Selznick cast her only in supporting parts in Since You Went Away (1944) and I’ll Be Seeing You (1945). In that year, aged 17, she also completed her interrupted education by graduating from Westlake High School for Girls in Los Angeles. She then published her first autobiography, My Young Life, and was married to army sergeant-turned actor John Agar.
The last four years of her screen career were an anticlimax. Her infant precocity gave way to mere pertness (of which there is no shortage in Hollywood) in such films as The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (1947), That Hagen Girl (1947), with Ronald Reagan, and A Kiss for Corliss (1949), her screen swansong, opposite David Niven. This period also included the first film in John Ford’s cavalry trilogy, Fort Apache (1948), in which she co-starred, aged 20, with her husband.
When the marriage failed, she was married again (in 1950) to a wealthy San Francisco businessman, Charles Black. She largely retired from acting to concentrate on social work, though from 1957 to 1959 she narrated and appeared in a television series entitled Shirley Temple’s Storybook. This was followed in 1960 by Shirley Temple Presents Young America, a programme about the problems of high-school dropouts.
From 1960 she played a leading role in developing the San Francisco film festival, resigning in 1966 only over the decision to screen the Swedish film Night Games, which she denounced as “pornography for profit”. In 1967 she ran for Congress to fill a dead man’s shoes (Republican J Arthur Younger). Though her recording of On the Good Ship Lollipop was used as a theme song at rallies, she insisted that “Little Shirley Temple is not running. If someone insists on pinning me with a label, let it read Shirley Temple Black, Republican independent.” But in the era of Lyndon Johnson, her conservative stance on taxes, law and order and drug addiction lost her the seat.
After her election defeat, she continued to work for the Republican party, raising funds and urging Americans overseas to back Richard Nixon in the forthcoming presidential campaign. When elected, Nixon named her one of the five-member American delegation to the 24th session of the United Nations General Assembly. In this capacity she served in 1969 on the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee. Her subsequent diplomatic career included US ambassador to Ghana (1974-76), sparking a trend for Ghanaian children to be named Shirley (including boys), and to the former Czechoslovakia, to which she was appointed by President Bush in 1989.

Philip Hoffman

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Date of Birth: 23 July 1967, Fairport, US
Birth Name: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Nicknames: Philip Hoffman

In a little over two decades Hoffman carved out a reputation for delivering strident performances that led to the New York Times describing him as the “greatest character actor of our time”. For many years he stood out in supporting roles from a louche playboy in Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr Ripley to a lovesick high school teacher in Spike Lee’s The 25th Hour.
In 2005, however, he took the title role in Bennett Miller’s Capote, a biopic of the waspish author Truman Capote. As the notoriously tart chronicler of high rollers and transient killers, Hoffman caught the writer’s murky DNA, showcasing his talent for manipulation but also his latent insecurity. “Playing Capote took a lot of concentration,” Hoffman stated, “I prepared for four and a half months. I read and listened to his voice and watched videos of him on TV. Sometimes being an actor is like being some kind of detective where you’re on the search for a secret that will unlock the character. With Capote, the part required me to be a little unbalanced.” The performance was to win him that year’s Academy Award for Best Actor.
His appearance and in particular his weight remained a fall-back feature of most journalistic profiles. Hoffman’s wry approach to the veiled criticisms was reminscent of Cyrano de Bergerac’s parry to nasal put-downs. “A lot of people describe me as chubby, which seems so easy, so first-choice,” he said. “Or stocky. Fair-skinned. Tow-headed. There are so many other choices. How about dense? I mean, I’m a thick kind of guy. But I’m never described in attractive ways. I’m waiting for somebody to say I’m at least cute. But nobody has.”

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He was instictively comfortable working with many of America’s cinematic auteurs. In particular, his collaborations with the director Paul Thomas Anderson provided many of his most distinctive roles. In Magnolia (1999) he provided warmth and heart as a kindly male nurse tending to a dying millionnaire to an otherwise bleak palette of human disarray and in The Master (2012) he held forth as a magnetically-charasmatic leader of a quasi-religious cult (a figure loosely based on L. Ron Hubbard). Likewise Spike Lee, the Coen Brothers, Charlie Kauffman and David Mamet all drew idiosyncratic and memorable performances.
A dedication to the art of acting was to remain the one constant in a career that otherwise defied categorisation (he embraced drama, comedy and thrillers with equal zeal). “Acting is so difficult for me that, unless the work is of a certain stature in my mind, unless I reach the expectations I have of myself, I’m unhappy,” he said. “If you’re doing it well, if you’re concentrating the way you need to, if your will and your concentration and imagination and emotional life are all in tune, concentrated and working together in that role, that is just like lugging weights upstairs with your head. And I don’t think that should get any easier.”
Philip Seymour Hoffman was born on July 23 1967 in Fairport, a picturesque town on the Erie Canal in New York state. His mother, the former Marilyn Loucks, was a lawyer and civil rights activist and his father, Gordon, was a businessman.
Philip was first drawn to drama at Fairport High School, and when he was 17 attended a state-run summer school for the arts. After graduating he moved to New York City to pursue professional training, attending classes at a summer programme run by the Manhattan theatre, Circle in the Square, and finally graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in Drama.
While at NYU, Hoffman teamed up for the first time with Bennett Miller, who would later direct him in Capote, to launch a drama company, the Bullstoi Ensemble. Though its principals were undoubtedly talented, the Ensemble was notoriously short-lived, and after leaving NYU Hoffman entered rehab to tackle alcohol and drug problems. He then embarked on the classic career path of the hopeful actor, taking odd jobs, such as stacking supermarket shelves, while auditioning and hoping for his big break.
That break took some years to arrive. However, in 1992 he won his first major role in Scent of a Woman, which starred Al Pacino as a blind man whose lust for life (and the opposite sex), is only heightened by his “disability”. Hoffman played a boorish, treacherous friend of the student who is recruited to assist Pacino’s character.
More often, however, his pudgy frame seemed to recommend him to casting directors for roles that required self-doubt, self-loathing even. It was with just such a part that he made his leap into the big time.
Paul Thomas Anderson, the director, who had spotted Hoffman in Scent of a Woman, cast him as a boom operator, Scotty, in his epic recounting of pornographic film making in the 1970s, Boogie Nights (1997). The part marked Hoffman out as an actor of range but, typically, his reward was to be cast in formulaic fayre, such as Flawless (1999) a buddy movie with Robert De Niro.
Hoffman flourished in such illustrious company, and repeated the trick of stealing scenes from more established actors in The Talented Mr Ripley. Meryl Streep was among a gathering band of admirers, describing his performance as “fearless”.
Long a favourite of indie directors, Hoffman's rising star was confirmed in such films as The Big Lebowski (1998) and Almost Famous (2000). But the next five years, while providing steady work, did not see him find many great roles. It was with Capote (2005) that his mesmeric ability to metamorphise began to emerge. He lost weight and shifted the timbre of his voice, inhabiting the part completely without descending to simple mimicry.

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He next shone in an unlikely role in Doubt (2008), that of a Catholic priest who may, or may not, have abused one of his pupils. The whole conceit of the film demanded that the audience remain undecided, and thus rested on the strength of Hoffman’s performance.
His ability to turn his hand to almost any role was displayed again in Jack Goes Boating (2010), his directorial debut, and also his first romantic role.
A long, inventive and daring career seemed to stretch before him, but in what turned out to be his last years he mostly starred in the mainstream features such as the Hunger Games series that he had always dotted between the expressive, idea-driven parts in which he truly excelled.
Other films included: Cold Mountain (2003); Mission Impossible III (2006); Charlie Wilson’s War (2007); Synecdoche, New York (2008); Moneyball (2011) and, most recently, A Most Wanted Man (2014).
It was a sign of his talent, however, that many viewed Hoffman as an even better actor on stage than on screen. Perhaps his best performance came in 2012, in the Broadway revival of Death of A Salesman, for which he received his third Tony award nomination.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, who announced last year that he was once again struggling with addiction, is reported to have been found dead in his apartment, possibly of a drug overdose.

Paul Walker

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Date of Birth: 12 September, 1973, Glendale, California, US
Birth Name: Paul Willam Walker IV
Nicknames: Paul Walker

Paul Walker was one of the actors who helped make the Fast & Furious film franchise so successful.
Walker rode the Fast & Furious franchise to stardom, featuring in all but one of the six action blockbusters, beginning with the first film, in 2001. The blond-haired, blue-eyed Los Angeles-native brought California-surfer good-looks and an easy, warm charm to the street-racing series. Walker did some of his own driving in the films, though the insurers prevented him from doing as much as he would have liked. He said it was the driving and working with the stuntmen that he enjoyed most.
The son of a fashion model, Cheryl, and a sewer contractor, Paul, Walker grew up in a working class Mormon household in Glendale, California, the oldest of five children. His mother began taking him to auditions as a toddler and he was a child model by the age of two. He said his early induction to showbusiness wasn't to start him on a career path, but as simply a way to help provide for the family.
He made his big-screen debut as a 13-year-old in the 1986 slasher-comedy Monster in the Closet, and after a string of television roles, including small parts in Who's the Boss and Charles in Charge, he drifted away from acting for a while, but was then tracked down by a casting director with a long memory who gave him a role in the television series Touched by an Angel. He also had a recurring part in the soap The Young and the Restless
His returned to films in the 1998 comedy Meet the Deedles and had supporting roles in Pleasantville, Varsity Blues (as a young quarterback – "I got to play the meathead jock that I hated in high school," he recalled), Flags of Our Fathers and the 1999 teen comedy She's All That. His performance in the 2000 psychological thriller The Skulls, which explored the conspiracy theories surrounding Yale's Skull and Bones student society, caught the eye of producer Neal H Moritz despite the film's poor critical reception.
Moritz then cast him alongside Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious. Adapted from a Vibe magazine article, "Racer X", about underground street racing, the film became an unexpected hit. Walker's undercover police officer, Brian O'Conner, is ordered to infiltrate a ring of illegal street racers suspected of stealing electronic equipment and finds himself drawn to their adrenaline-fuelled lifestyle.
Walker, a self-styled "gearhead", had taken part in street races, and he used some his fee for the first film to import a Nissan Skyline R34 sports car, the model he drives in the 2003 sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, in which he starred without Diesel. He wasn't in the third instalment, but the pair were reunited for the fourth film, known simply as Fast and Furious (2009). It became the biggest hit in the series and the producers stuck with the formula for Fast 5 (2011) and Fast and Furious 6 (2013), each successive film garnering bigger box-office grosses. The most recent has made nearly £491.7 million worldwide so far.

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Walker starred in other films between Fast & Furious outings, including the crime thriller Running Scared, the Antarctic adventure Eight Below and the heist film Takers, in which a gang of young criminals carry out a series of minutely planned bank jobs to bankroll their expensive lifestyle. Although he didn't make as much of an impact beyond the franchise, he continually drew praise from his co-stars and directors as a kind-hearted and eager collaborator. "Your humble spirit was felt from the start," Ludacris, one of his co-stars, said on Twitter. "Wherever you blessed your presence you always left a mark, we were like brothers."
In 2006 he was cast by Clint Eastwood in Flags of our Fathers as one of the six US Marines who famously raised the American flag at Iwo Jima during the Second World War. The seventh Fast & Furious instalment began shooting in September, with a release planned for next July. The film's production was on break with more shooting to be done, which producers said would go ahead despite Walker's death.

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Walker also stars in the forthcoming Hurricane Katrina drama Hours, due to appear later this month. He plays a father stranded with his newborn daughter in a New Orleans hospital in what Walker described as "a passion project". Reading the script, he said, "I just wanted to believe that if I was faced with a similar situation, I would see it through the same way. You want to believe you have the make-up to do what it would take to keep this baby going." He is also in Brick Mansions, a remake of the French action film District B13, due for release next year.
Walker and Rebecca McBrain, a former girlfriend, had a daughter who lived with her mother in Hawaii for 13 years and then moved to California in 2011 to live with Walker.
Roger Rodas, who died with Walker, was a financial adviser and the CEO of Walker's company Always Evolving; the pair met through their shared passion for cars. Another passion for Walker was martial arts, and he held a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He was also interested in marine biology, and made a series for the National Geographic Channel, Expedition Great White, in which he helped tag great white sharks off the coast of Mexico.

Peter O'Toole

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Date of Birth: 2 August 1932, Connemara, Ireland
Birth Name: Seamus Peter O’Toole
Nicknames: Peter O’Toole


Peter O'Toole, the Irish-born actor was one of the most charismatic, unpredictable, eccentric and individualistic players of his generation.
Hailed both as a classicist and as an exponent of post-war realism in the new British drama, he seemed destined for greatness on the stage until David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962) turned him into a film star.
It was one of the most spectacular screen breakthroughs of the post-war years. Though his screen debut was in Kidnapped (1960), he had till Lawrence made little impression. Although Lawrence was presented as an heroic figure, Robert Bolt’s screenplay did not avoid the more debatable aspects of his life, including his sexuality. There is a revealing moment when he first dons Arab clothes and performs a little dance almost as if he were a woman in disguise. Moviegoers twigged instantly that this would be no ordinary portrayal.

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Tall, lean, blue-eyed, watchful, whimsical and by middle age, so emaciated that his friends feared for his health O’Toole seemed regularly to veer close to self destruction. A self-confessed lover of sleaze, he once said: “I can’t stand light; I hate weather; my idea of heaven is moving from one smoke-filled room to another.”
When Laurence Olivier chose him in 1973 to inaugurate the National Theatre at the Old Vic in the title role of Hamlet, it was because O’Toole seemed like Britain’s next great actor. But the status of an Olivier, a Redgrave or a Gielgud always eluded him or perhaps he it.
Though he became a greatly popular player, he did not stay with Olivier’s new National Theatre Company and went on to divide his career between stage and screen. The success of Lawrence of Arabia led to a flood of screen offers in meaty parts that contemporary actors envied. These included two aspects of King Henry II, first in Becket (1964), based on Jean Anouilh’s account of his troubled relations with Thomas à Becket, and secondly in The Lion in Winter (1968), James Goldman’s play about the ageing king’s dispute with his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Though Katharine Hepburn won an Oscar as Eleanor, the conflict was even-handed and the two performers were equally riveting.
His acting ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. It could be subtle, reserved, sensitive and deeply affecting. It could also be loud, self-regarding, mannered and imitative of the worst of the 19th-century barnstormers.
Among the more ridiculous was the Macbeth he played at the Old Vic in 1980. It was an attempt to restore the fortunes of that playhouse after the National Theatre had left it in 1976. Contradicting the advice he had given as Hamlet to the players at the same theatre under Olivier’s direction 17 years earlier, he sawed the air with his hands, tore passions to tatters, and ranted until the audience laughed in his face.
Undismayed, he joined in, especially when he heard one night, as he descended the staircase after dispatching Duncan, the siren of an ambulance passing the theatre. “I was dripping with blood. The ambulance howled as it went up the Waterloo Road. I got the giggles. So did the audience. It was bloody marvellous.”
Nonetheless, the production, disowned by fellow members of the Old Vic board, broke records in London and in the provinces. “I just wanted a crack at Macbeth on the principle of getting the worst over first. In the history of the British theatre, only three actors have pulled it off: Macready, Garrick, and Wolfit and now me. I enjoyed every second.”
Among his more sublime performances was that of the dazed and lonely protagonist journalist in Keith Waterhouse’s Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell (Apollo, 1989; revived 1999), reminiscing, ruminating, urinating, swaying, and stranded overnight in a London pub with a plastic carrier bag of liquor.O’Toole, himself an experienced alcoholic, long since reformed, brought so much authenticity, poise and painful sincerity to the performance that many play-goers could not believe he was acting.
He loved the excitement and uncertainty of the theatre. “If I hadn’t become an actor I probably would have become a criminal,” he said once. “I’m a very physical actor. I use everything toes, teeth, ears, everything. I don’t simply mean physical in the sense of movement and vigour. I find myself remembering the shape of a scene by how I’m standing, what I’m doing.”
Having achieved immediate recognition as TE Lawrence, the desert adventurer opposite Omar Sharif, he observed: “Stardom is insidious. It creeps up through the toes. You don’t realise what’s happening until it reaches your nut. That’s when it becomes dangerous.”
His scores of screen roles at this time included Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim (1965), an angel in John Huston’s The Bible (1966), and a musical remake of Goodbye, Mr Chips (1969) opposite Petula Clark. Though he was Oscar-nominated for that role, the film as a whole was an embarrassment, and he should have taken note that Rex Harrison and Richard Burton had turned it down before him.
In 1972 he appeared in another musical, Man of La Mancha, opposite Sophia Loren, in which he played Don Quixote. These two films were temporary diversions he was wise not to repeat. Fortunately, in the same year (1972) he gave one of his best performances in the lead role in Peter Medak’s The Ruling Class, as a berserk British baronet who imagines himself to be Jesus Christ one minute and Jack the Ripper the next.

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The son of an Irish bookmaker, Seamus Peter O’Toole was born at Connemara, Co Galway, on August 2 1932. The family moved to England when O’Toole was a boy. The young Peter left school at 14, and moved with his parents to Yorkshire.
He worked variously as a copy boy and reporter on the Yorkshire Evening News, as a jazz band drummer, and as a vacuum cleaner salesman. He first acted professionally at the Civic Theatre, Leeds, in 1949.
After National Service as a signalman in the Royal Navy, he saw Michael Redgrave’s King Lear at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1953; it was this that resolved him to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He hitch-hiked to London and won an audition and a scholarship.
He joined the Bristol Old Vic, where between 1955 and 1958 he acted 73 parts, notably Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger (1957), John Tanner in Man and Superman, the title part in Hamlet and Peter Shirley in Shaw’s Major Barbara, in which he made his first London appearance (Old Vic, 1956).
His first West End part came in another Bristol transfer, this time as Uncle Gustave in the Swiss musical comedy Oh, My Papa! (Garrick, 1957).
It was, however, as the cynical Cockney Pete Bamforth, who befriended a Japanese captive in Willis Hall’s wartime jungle drama The Long and the Short and the Tall (Royal Court, 1959, and New, now Albery), that O’Toole first won wide critical acclaim.
Of that performance Kenneth Tynan wrote: “To convey violence beneath banter, and a soured embarrassed goodness beneath both, is not the simplest task for a young player, yet Mr O’Toole achieved it without sweating a drop.”
At Stratford-upon-Avon in The Merchant of Venice his dashing young Shylock, a nouveau riche mercantile adventurer with social pretensions, was much admired, as were his playful Petruchio (opposite the 52-year-old Peggy Ashcroft) in The Taming of the Shrew and his powerful and thrilling Thersites in Troilus and Cressida.
Back in the West End in the title part of Brecht’s Baal (Phoenix, 1963) his acting soared above the play so impressively that one of Brecht’s biographers, Martin Esslin, dubbed O’Toole “the greatest potential force among all English-speaking actors”.
After the disappointment of his acceptable but uninspiring Hamlet at the launch of the National Theatre Company, he played one of his favourite types of character, the self-destructive hero, in David Mercer’s Ride a Cock Horse (Piccadilly, 1965), agonising over relationships with three women.

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The following year, back in Ireland, he played Capt Boyle in O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, and three years after that he was back in Dublin again as John Tanner in Shaw’s Man and Superman, one of his favourite parts which he had played at Bristol 11 years earlier and which he played yet again in the West End (Haymarket, 1982).
At Dublin’s Abbey in 1969 his scarecrow Vladimir in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot came in what The Daily Telegraph at the time called “the Chaplin tradition: baggy trousers, battered bowler, clownish, absentmindedly surveying the audience as if it were infinity”. He later acted the part at Nottingham Playhouse.
Returning to his training ground, the Bristol Old Vic, in 1973, he took the title role in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, “shuffling, weary, pale and unprofiteering… one of the best things O’Toole ever did”, according to one critic. He also played King Magnus “indolent, elegant, condescending” in Shaw’s The Apple Cart, a role which he repeated in the West End (Haymarket, 1986).
When he led, in 1978, a tour of North America as Uncle Vanya, he also added Coward’s Present Laughter to his repertoire. As the flamboyant matinée idol, Garry Essendine, O’Toole used his own mannered and sometimes irritating self-indulgence with authority.
Following the fiasco of his Macbeth for Prospect Productions at the ailing Old Vic two years later, his mercurial Professor Higgins in Shaw’s Pygmalion (Shaftesbury, 1984) was warmly approved for its zest, rhythm, tonal variety, and tender eccentricity. It was seen on Broadway three years later.
In 1991 his ideas about the older Jimmy Porter in Osborne’s new play Déjà Vu clashed with the author’s at rehearsal and the Liverpool production was cancelled.
One of his better screen performances in the 1970s came in Clive Donner’s thriller for television Rogue Male (1976). O’Toole was engaging and, when it mattered, moving, as the resourceful but desperate hero, a British sportsman and would-be assassin of Hitler who, ruthlessly hunted down by Nazis, is forced to live like an animal.
The following year he acted in the dubious Roman epic Caligula, described by Variety magazine as “an anthology of sexual aberrations in which incest is the only face-saving relationship”.
In the uncommercial but intriguing film The Stuntman (1980), he was entirely at home as an impatient and overbearing director on a crazed film project which seemed to make sense only to him. O’Toole, who was again Oscar-nominated, later admitted that he had based his performance on the martinet David Lean, who had directed him in Lawrence of Arabia.
Less impressive were his outings in such schlock as Powerplay (1978), Strumpet City (1980), Supergirl (1984) and Buried Alive (1984).
His performance in Neil Jordan’s big budget Hollywood comedy High Spirits (1988), about a family who move into a haunted house, was nothing if not ebullient; he extracted more humour than the rest of the cast from a weak script in what became one of the turkeys of the year.
It is fitting that his swansong was on the West End stage, which he loved and dominated like no other. Keith Waterhouse’s Our Song provided him with another Bernard-like character or at least that was how he played the hard-drinking advertising man infatuated with a younger woman.

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Even those critics who professed to a sense of déjà vu were not inclined to complain about it, but rather revelled in another chance to see O’Toole running the entire gamut of his physical and vocal range. “The exhilarating theatrical swagger of his performance is matched by a real depth of emotion,” said the Telegraph. The play was a sell-out success.
The year 1992 also saw the publication of the first volume of his autobiography, Loitering With Intent. Besides committing to record his own account of a life rich in myth and hyperbole, O’Toole revealed a genuine writing talent whose promise is sadly cut short.
Having been denied as best actor Oscar many times, in 2003 O’Toole received a special honorary award, effectively for his lifetime’s work. He joked about this when, in 2006, he received yet another best-actor nomination, playing a 70-year-old roué in Venus, who romances his best friend’s grand-niece. The lifetime’s recognition, he quipped, had been premature because there was life in the old dog yet.

Cory Monteith

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Date of Birth: 11 May 1982, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Birth Name: Cory Allan Michael Monteith
Nicknames: Cory Monteith

The Canadian actor Cory Monteith, shot to fame as the all-American student Finn Hudson in Glee, the worldwide television hit about an Ohio high-school show choir.
When the musical-comedy teen series began in 2009, Monteith was cast as Finn after submitting what he described as "a cheesy 80s music video-style version" of the REO Speedwagon power ballad Can't Fight This Feeling. Although he had no previous singing experience and his vocal performance was considered slightly weak, producers believed that Monteith displayed the naivety they were looking for in Finn, a quarterback in the fictional William McKinley High School football team and a member of its choir, New Directions.
The role made Monteith not only a global TV star, but also a lead singer in a recording act with sales of more than 50m singles and 13m albums. The Glee cast recorded covers of pop songs and musical numbers on eight soundtrack and three compilation albums. Astonishingly, taking advantage of the age of music downloads, it also hit the charts with more than 200 singles. The first, Don't Stop Believin', reached No 2 in the UK and No 4 in the US in 2009.
Finn's squeaky-clean character was in stark contrast to the teenager Monteith had himself been a decade earlier. He frequently missed school while drinking and taking drugs until family and friends persuaded him to attend a rehabilitation centre at the age of 19. He came out and returned to his old ways.

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The turning-point came when Monteith stole money from a member of his family to fund his addictions. When he was caught, he was given an ultimatum: get clean or face the law. He chose to turn his life around. "I'm lucky to be alive," Monteith said two years ago. However, the actor checked back into rehab for four weeks in March.
Monteith was born in Calgary, Alberta, where his father served in Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and his mother was an interior decorator. The couple divorced when Monteith was seven and he and his older brother were raised by their mother in Victoria, British Columbia. Leaving his troubled teenage years behind, Monteith moved in with a family friend in the city of Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, and took a job as a roofer. Another friend, an acting coach, gave him free lessons. Moving to Vancouver, Monteith started auditioning for TV roles and was soon landing parts, starting in Stargate: Atlantis (2004).

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As well as appearing in other popular series, such as Supernatural (2005), Smallville (2005), Stargate SG-1 (2006) and Flash Gordon (2007), on the big screen he was in two horror films, Bloody Mary (2006) and Final Destination 3 (2006), and the comedy Deck the Halls (2006). There were regular TV roles as Charlie Tanner in the first two series of the sci-fi teen drama Kyle XY (2006-07) and Gunnar, drummer in a rock band, in the short-lived MTV series Kaya (2007).
Stardom finally came with Glee, which brought Monteith a 2010 Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (shared with the cast) and parts in several films, including the role of Justin, a TV star battling with his social-activist brother, in Sisters & Brothers (2011).

David Lyon

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Date of Birth: 16 May 1941, Sierra Leone, Africa
Birth Name: David Laurie Lyon
Nicknames: David Lyon

David Lyon was a stalwart of numerous Royal Shakespeare Company productions and became a familiar face on television in series such as The Bill, Lovejoy, Taggart, Holby City and Midsomer Murders.
Though he was a popular figure at the RSC, Lyon never got to play the Dane and most audiences would be hard-pressed to name his roles. On stage they included the Earl of Westmoreland in Henry IV parts I and II and Henry V; Capulet in Romeo and Juliet; the Duke of Albany in King Lear; Thomas Mowbray in Richard II; King Philip of France in King John; Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing; Hortensio in The Taming of the Shrew; and Dull in Love’s Labour’s Lost. On the small screen he ranged from bishops (The Inspector Linley Mysteries) to murderers (Midsomer Murders).
The principal exception to this rule was his role as Henry Collingridge, Margaret Thatcher’s decent but dithery successor whose position at No 10 is steadily undermined by his Machiavellian Chief Whip Francis Urquhart (Ian Richardson) in the 1990 BBC production of House of Cards.

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The role was memorable not least because the first episode in the four-part series aired on November 18, four days before Mrs Thatcher stunned her Cabinet by announcing that she would resign as Prime Minister “as soon as a successor can be chosen”. Lyon uttered exactly the same lines, written some months earlier, in House of Cards two weeks later. He added, as Mrs Thatcher may also have done to her Cabinet colleagues, two-thirds of whom had told her she might not win if she stayed in the race: “I should like to take the opportunity of thanking you for your friendship and your loyalty at this time those who feel this description applies, of course.”
David Laurie Lyon was born on May 16 1941, the son of a diamond merchant, and grew up in Sierra Leone. He was educated at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, where he played scrum-half for the first XV. Forced to leave school aged 16 after his father was declared bankrupt, he worked for Royal Insurance in Glasgow, then as a flooring salesman in Birmingham. In his spare time he performed as an amateur actor with the Old Grammarians in Glasgow and the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham, and in the early 1970s studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
After making his professional debut in Manchester in 1975, he performed in repertory theatres around the country before joining the RSC in 1976. As well as supporting roles in Shakespeare, he also appeared in several modern plays, such as The Innocent, After Aida and Piaf.
In 1998 he married the actress Sandra Clark, whom he had first met at drama school when she was married to someone else. They spent their honeymoon touring with a production of Romeo and Juliet, in which they were playing Capulet and Lady Montagu.

James Gandolfini

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Date of Birth: 18 September 1961, Westwood, New Jersey, US
Birth Name: James Joseph Gandolfini Jr
Nicknames: James Gandlfini

James Gandolfini was one of those rare actors who was able to portray a violent, bullying, murderous, vulgar, serial adulterer, while simultaneously eliciting sympathy and understanding from television audiences. In 86 episodes from 1999 to 2007, in HBO's hit series The Sopranos, the balding, beefy, middle-aged Gandolfini, as Tony Soprano, a New Jersey mafia boss, managed to transcend any stereotyping of Italian-Americans (although the charge was still made) by showing the flawed character's vulnerable side.While Tony Soprano does embody the close-knit Italian-American community, with its codes of masculinity, Gandolfini, who had studied the Sanford Meisner method of acting for two years, lived up to Meisner's exhortation to "find in yourself those human things which are universal". Gandolfini always claimed to be nothing like Tony Soprano: "I'm really basically just like a 260-pound Woody Allen."Gandolfini explained that he sometimes went to extremes to express Tony's anger by hitting himself on the head or staying up all night to evoke the desired reaction. "If you are tired, every single thing that somebody does makes you mad. Or I just walked around with a stone in my shoe. It's silly, but it works."Yet it was the scenes of the therapy sessions with his psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) that really humanised the character. "If you took the Melfi scenes away, you wouldn't care about this man as much, or care about anything that was happening to him," Gandolfini explained.

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Like his television alter ego, Gandolfini was born, raised and educated in New Jersey. His mother was a school dinner lady, and his father a bricklayer and stonemason. Both his parents were devout Roman Catholics of Italian ancestry and spoke Italian at home. After graduating from Park Ridge high school, Gandolfini gained a BA in communication studies at Rutgers University.
After the role of one of the poker playing buddies of Stanley Kowalski (Alec Baldwin) in a revival of A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway in 1992 in which he had the last line of the play, "The game is seven card stud" Gandolfini started to get roles in movies, first making an impression in Tony Scott's True Romance (1993), which understandably got him an audition for the leading part in The Sopranos. In a memorable stomach churning scene, as a ruthless hitman he beats up Patricia Arquette, only to have her whack him on the head and set him on fire.Gandolfini was then cast against type as shy guys in Mr Wonderful (1993) and Angie (1994), but returned to bad ways as an ex KGB man in Terminal Velocity (1994), as a southern-accented stunt man turned bodyguard in Get Shorty (1995), as a corrupt cop who kills himself in Sidney Lumet's Night Falls on Manhattan (1996) and a mafia man in The Juror (1996). Of the last, Roger Ebert wrote: "Gandolfini has a very tricky role, who is about as sympathetic as a man can be who would, after all, kill you. His line readings during a couple of complicated scenes are right on the money. If the movie had been pitched at the level of sophistication and complexity that his character represents, it would have been a lot better."Gandolfini portrayed all his roles admirably, but there was no inkling that he would ever be anything more than a serviceable heavy in mainly commercial thrillers for the rest of his career. It was television and Tony Soprano that gained him Emmy awards, three years running, and superstar status, which he never equalled but which sustained his active post-Sopranos life. This included In the Loop (2009), The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) and Welcome to The Rileys (2010), in all of which he attempted successfully to soften his persona.In 2007, Gandolfini produced a documentary, Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq, in which he interviewed 10 injured Iraq war veterans. This was followed by Wartorn (2010), about post-traumatic stress disorder and its impact on soldiers and families through several wars in American history.

Richard Thorp

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Date of Birth: 2 January 1932, Purley, Surrey, UK
Birth Name: Richard Thorp

Richard Thorp starred as Squadron Leader Henry Maudslay in the 1955 film The Dam Busters, but became better known to millions of television viewers as Alan Turner, the landlord of The Woolpack in the Yorkshire-based soap Emmerdale.
Alan Turner joined the series as a farm manager in March 1982, and went on to become its longest-running character. Inept, boozy and bullying, he ran through a series of lovers, wives and secretaries; but in later years, after becoming landlord of The Woolpack, he sobered up and, by the time of Thorp’s death, had become a pillar of the community “like the village war memorial”, as he put it.
Thorp recalled that when he first joined, the plot lines were very different from those of later episodes: “I remember one story, and it ran for about five episodes. It was all what Seth was doing to Amos’s rhubarb. We didn’t have to go to bed with anybody or get jolly with our mothers, we just put a few slugs on a chap’s rhubarb. I enjoyed that more because everybody knew the characters more back then rather than who they were sleeping with and who was gay and who wasn’t.”
Thorp’s character was central to a number of pivotal plots, including one in which his daughter Steph (played by Lorraine Chase) tried to bump him off by pushing him down the stairs, before keeping him drugged to the eyeballs in a B&B in order to get her hands on his money.

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When he first joined Emmerdale, Thorp, a fit 50 year-old, was something of a pin-up for women of a certain age, but by the mid-1990s he had ballooned to 18 stone and had become, in his own words, “less a national heart-throb and more the local heart attack”. In consequence his character became more marginal, and he admitted finding it frustrating not to be given decent storylines. In 2010 he said: “I recently asked the scriptwriters if I could get a juicy love interest, but they said that given my age, they would have to dig someone up!”
But he admitted that he could not afford to retire because he needed the cash to pay three ex-wives.
Richard Thorp was born on January 2 1932 at Purley, Surrey, and got his first film role in Robert Jordan Hill’s 1949 comedy thriller Melody in the Dark. His breakthrough part was that of Squadron Leader Henry Maudslay in The Dam Busters, which he landed after applying for a more minor role because he bore a physical resemblance to the real Maudslay, who had died during the operation.
Thorp appeared in several more feature films, including The Barretts Of Wimpole Street (1957), but later confessed that he had been too lazy to pursue a career in Hollywood, and in any case preferred working in television soaps because they guaranteed a regular income.
Before joining Emmerdale, Thorp was best known as Dr John Rennie in the ITV hospital soap, Emergency Ward 10, which he joined in 1957. Often described by tabloids as “the nation’s heart-throb” who was a regular on the show for 10 years and became so popular with its mainly female audience that its producers employed two secretaries purely to deal with his fan mail.
Thorp continued to work despite ill health. In 1994, after starring on This Is Your Life, he had a serious heart attack and was in intensive care for three days. Shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with chronic lymphatic leukaemia. Although the cancer did not develop, he continued to live with it. In 2009 he took a break from Emmerdale to have knee replacement surgery.
Richard Thorp’s three marriages ended in divorce, and in the 1960s he was briefly (though secretly) engaged to Babs Beverley of the Beverley Sisters.

Richard LeParmentier

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Date of Birth: 16 July 1946, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US
Birth Name: Richard LeParmentier

Richard LeParmentier was an American character actor but in the 1970s moved to Britain, where he was cast as a young space station commander who is almost choked to death by Darth Vader in the original Star Wars film (1977).
Although LeParmentier appeared in more than 50 films and television series, it was the modest role of Admiral Motti, commander of the Death Star space station, who foolishly mocks Vader’s “sorcerer’s ways” and “sad devotion to that ancient Jedi religion”, for which he became best known.
Darth Vader (played by David Prowse) finds Motti’s lack of faith disturbing, and starts crushing his windpipe using the “Force” (a powerful form of telepathy), choking the young commander, but allowing him to live.
Devotees of the Star Wars canon have acclaimed “a brilliantly understated piece of cinema that showcased the true power of the Dark Side while highlighting the Empire’s main weakness over-confidence”. The scene remains a favourite with fans and has even spawned an online craze known as “Vadering”.

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LeParmentier’s role may have been modest but it was also crucial. It was his character’s reckless act of defiance in standing up to Darth Vader that prompted the Rebel Alliance’s strike on the Death Star.
“I did the choking effect by flexing muscles in my neck,” LeParmentier recalled. “It’s one of the most famous Star Wars scenes and it’s the most parodied one too. Eddie Izzard does a bit on it in one of his routines.”
In 1988 LeParmentier played Lieutenant Santino in the animated classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) a role that furnished him with the celebrated line: “Now that’s what I call one seriously disturbed toon” and found steady work as an actor on British television.
During the 1980s and 1990s he was also a television screenwriter, scripting episodes of Boon and The Bill for ITV.
Richard LeParmentier was born on July 16 1946 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but moved to Britain in 1974, settling in Bath. He appeared in the David Essex rock film Stardust (1974), and with James Caan in the futuristic Rollerball (1975). But it was a week’s work at Elstree Studios in 1976, in between playing bit parts on British television, that changed his life when he shot his scene as Motti in Star Wars.
“I thought the film was going to be a success as soon as I read the script, despite the fact people were laughing at us as we shot the thing,” LeParmentier recalled. Walter Murch, a friend of the film’s director George Lucas, explained that people thought it was laughable “because they couldn’t see the vision behind it. It was in pieces. It’s just that once you see the vision, then it all makes sense.”
For more than 30 years LeParmentier was a fixture at Star Wars conventions all over the world, often signing pictures of himself sporting his Imperial Officer uniform while being choked by Darth Vader’s “Force”. His role of Motti, although the briefest of episodes in a 40-year acting career, occupied most of his official website.
One section of the site called “Motti’s hotties” featured a series of photos of LeParmentier posing with female fans, one of whom wore a bored expression and a shirt emblazoned “porn star”. Interviewed on the site, LeParmentier said he would prefer to be known as a writer first and as Admiral Motti second. “But you can’t deny being part of [one of] the most popular and influential films of all time,” he explained.
In the 13th James Bond film Octopussy (1983), LeParmentier played an American aide.
While appearing as a reporter in Superman II (1980) he met the British actress Sarah Douglas, who was cast as the Kryptonian supervillain Ursa. They married the following year, but divorced in 1984.

Richard Griffiths

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Date of Birth: 31 July 1947, Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire, UK
Birth Name: Richard Griffiths

Richard Griffiths was one of Britain’s most recognisable actors, deploying his girth and equally sizeable talent to great effect on television, on stage, and on the big screen.
He was memorable in a host of different genres, with a range and subtlety that belied his giant physique. A natural in Shakespeare’s comic roles, notably Falstaff, he later captured the imagination of young filmgoers with his performances as the hideous Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter series. But it was, perhaps oddly, for his portrayal of two sexual predators that he was best-loved.
As Uncle Monty in Withnail and I (1987) he erupted, cheeks lightly rouged, into the bedroom of his nephew’s terrified flatmate, declaring that “I mean to have you, boy, even if it must be burglary.” Like the film’s other stars, Paul McGann and Richard E Grant, Griffiths would have such memorable snippets of dialogue quoted at him by legions of fans for the rest of his career. (“They’re all a bit silly about it, and they quote stuff and expect me to know it. I find that very odd.”)
Almost two decades later he played Hector, an inspirational teacher who fondles his pupils while giving them lifts home on his motorcycle, in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys (2004). The play was a smash hit in London, and went on to repeat the success on Broadway. Like Withnail it contained some lines that left audiences helpless with laughter (notably when one boy sighs: “I’m a Jew ... I’m small ... I’m homosexual ... and I live in Sheffield ... I’m f---ed.”) A large part of its appeal, however was what its director Nicholas Hytner called Griffiths’s “masterpiece of wit, delicacy, mischief and desolation”.

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Griffiths was always at pains to insist that Hector is not a paedophile the boys in the play are all over 18. “I’d feed all paedophiles into a tree-shredder,” he told interviewers. “One minute with a tree shredder. Anything left the police can have.” And he was almost as intemperate with audience members who forgot to turn off their mobile phones. At least three times he interrupted the play in mid-performance, threatening to walk off.
Griffiths became so associated with gay roles that many assumed he was gay himself. “Look, I’m just acting,” he said. In fact he was married and declared a pronounced preference for women of a fuller figure. “I could never understand the attraction of Bette Davis. I always preferred Jane Russell.” Moreover, not only was he not gay, it turned out that he had started life so skinny that he required medical treatment.
Richard Griffiths was born on July 31 1947 in Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire. His father, Thomas, was a steelworker who also fought for money in pubs and, like his mother, the former Jane Denmark, was deaf-mute. Only two of the couple’s five children survived: two were stillborn and one, a longed-for daughter, died days after birth. The poverty, Griffiths said later, was “Dickensian”, with the unusual twist that, as he communicated with his parents by sign language, and the family had no television or radio, Richard’s childhood home was largely silent.
He ran away frequently but always came back to his parents because “I was sort of responsible for them. From the age of four I would help with the shopping. They would sign and I would translate to the shopkeeper.” As a result, he complained, “I have a lifelong loathing of shopping.”
He was also skinny as a boy, so skinny in fact that aged eight he was given treatment on his pituitary gland. His metabolism slowed and he gained 60 per cent of his body weight within a year. He was picked on at school but, owing to his new-found heft, coupled with a temper that he retained throughout his life (“I think I get it from my father. He was a very aggressive man”), he was more than able to hold his own. “I was the biggest. I once attacked two kids because they threw an apple core at me and it hit me in the face and everyone laughed and that was what really made me angry, being laughed at. So I pursued them round the school and beat them up. I was so angry. It was the best fight I ever had.”
He left St Bede’s school at 15 and applied for “a poxy job in a warehouse” only to find himself one of 300 hopefuls; so he returned to full-time education at Stockton and Billingham College. Taken by a teacher to see his first professional theatre production at 17, when he was in the audience of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Griffiths found himself spellbound.
He applied to do a drama course at the Northern College of Music in Manchester, which did not go down well at home. “In Teesside at the time ... if you said you wanted to be an actor it meant you had to be put to death. I had to keep the acting secret from my Dad. He raged at its pooffery when he found out.”

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His first major role was in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at the college’s drama society. When the student playing the governor of Massachusetts fell ill, Griffiths, promoted from a minor role, found himself overawed. “But I learnt it and did it.”
Like the principal characters in Withnail and I, Griffiths’s years as an aspiring actor were hard. But he soon realised that the weight he struggled with was a theatrical asset. Early in his career he was playing the Griffin in Alice in Wonderland when the actor playing the Mock Turtle turned to him and said: “Now listen to me, lad, you are very, very useful. You’ll never be out of a job.”
In the mid-1970s Griffiths was spotted by Trevor Nunn, then the Royal Shakespeare Company’s artistic director, and moved to live in Stratford. He rose through the roster of roles, eventually playing Bottom and Trinculo as well as Volpone and Henry VIII.
Still, it was a precarious life, and the best financial rewards came from advertising. Griffiths appeared in a series of television ads for Holsten lager, then in 1979 was asked to go to America for three days to film a series of ads for BMW. But Nunn would not give him the time off from the RSC and Griffiths lost out, a blow he never forgot. “That would have meant never having to worry about overheads again, and I could have devoted my life to interesting theatrical projects.” Instead, he would have wait until the Harry Potter films (from 2001) to achieve real financial security despite its subsequent success, Withnail and I was a flop at the box office.
Griffiths appeared in many other films, from Gandhi (1982) to Naked Gun 2 1/2 (1991), and also became well known to viewers of Pie in the Sky as Detective Inspector Henry Crabbe, a food-loving policeman who longs to retire from the force and set up his own restaurant. The light-hearted drama ran for five series on BBC1 from 1994.

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Despite his success, Griffiths was not averse to moaning about the lot of the actor. It was a trait, he admitted, that drove his wife, Heather Gibson, an Irish actress whom he met in 1973 in a production of Lady Windermere’s Fan, “nuts”.
His most enduring concern, however, was with his size. His bountiful proportions may have come in useful in securing work, but there were complications elsewhere. Armrests on seats were a particular bugbear. And while he felt that the business of moving about and acting provided some sort of veil to his shape, posing for still photographs left him uncomfortably exposed. “I don’t like the way I look so I don’t like being photographed. I become defensive.” Being asked to appear naked, as his co-stars were in a production of Equus (2007), was never an issue. “Thank goodness it’s not me being naked. I wouldn’t inflict my naked body on any paying audience.”
“Everybody my age should be issued with a 2lb fresh salmon,” he told an interviewer before the play opened. “If you see someone young, beautiful and happy, you should slap them as hard as you can with it. When they ask, 'Why did you do that?’, you say, 'Because, you lucky young bastard, you don’t know how fortunate you are.’ And they don’t...”

Richard Briers

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Date of Birth: 14 January 1934, Merton, Surrey, England, UK
Birth Name: Richard Briers

Richard Briers, played the engaging free spirit who strove for a self-sufficient lifestyle in Surbiton in BBC Television’s classic 1970s comedy series The Good Life.
Although acclaimed on television for a style of dithering comedy which reminded an earlier generation of the Aldwych farceur Ralph Lynn, Briers also proved adept in serious roles in the classics. In Kenneth Branagh’s 1997 film of Hamlet, his Polonius was praised by one critic for its “conspiratorial edge”.

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In The Good Life Briers played the hapless Tom Good, a draughtsman who decided to abandon the office rat race and live off the land. Instead of moving to the country, however, he and his wife Barbara (Felicity Kendal) eviscerated the lawn at their suburban home, planted vegetables and kept livestock all to the horror of their relentlessly middle-class next door neighbours Margo and Jerry Leadbetter (Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington).
With his omnipresent grin and boyish mannerisms, Briers proved perfect for the role. The Goods’ attempts to be truly self-sufficient were constantly thwarted by the machinations of the snobbish Margo, who feared that they were lowering the tone of the neighbourhood beyond repair; but Tom and Barbara always laughed in the face of adversity, and never lost their affection for their tormentor.
Written by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey and screened in 30 episodes between 1975 and 1978, The Good Life was probably Briers’s most famous vehicle on television. It was “a happy and somewhat rare combination of intelligent writing and superb playing”, judged the television critic of The Daily Telegraph.

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From 1984 to 1987 Briers starred in another popular sitcom, Ever Decreasing Circles. Also written by Esmonde and Larbey, it featured an obsessive, middle-aged fusspot whose settled routine is unexpectedly threatened by a flashy rival for his wife’s affections. Penelope Wilton played his long-suffering wife and Peter Egan the too-smooth neighbour.
It all seemed a far cry from Briers’s earnest portrayal of the Dane in a student production at Rada of Hamlet, when his naturally rapid delivery led WA Darlington of The Daily Telegraph to liken him to “a demented typewriter”. Yet with his sense of timing, air of hapless innocence and his ability to keep the straightest of faces amid the mayhem typical of his brand of embarrassed humour, it was no great surprise that Briers went on to become one of Britain’s leading practitioners of farce and light comedy.
Briers continued to be offered television work, and starred as the Rev Philip Lambe in All In Good Faith (1985-88). Lambe, the former vicar of an affluent rural parish, had to knuckle down to life in a tough Midlands city and meet its challenging problems. But after Briers’s conspicuous success at the BBC, this series his first for ITV was reckoned a disappointment.
Richard David Briers was born on January 14th 1934 at Merton, Surrey. His father, Joe Briers, was, among other things, a bookmaker, but found it hard to hold down a job and frittered away money in pubs. “[He was] a smashing man,” his son recalled, “but he was never settled in one job, and he was not as ambitious or acquisitive as I am. We were always on the edge, so I grew up in a slightly tense atmosphere.”
The family lived at Raynes Park, south-west London, and occasionally received handouts from a wealthy relation. Richard was educated at Ridgeway School in Wimbledon, where he failed to shine scholastically “I never even got a Z-level” but showed an interest in acting. The family’s flat overlooked a Rialto cinema, and he could hear the sound of the films playing below. His screen idols as a boy were James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart.
His first job, at 16, was as a filing clerk in the Strand, and after two years he endured “a further two years’ hard grind” doing similar work for the RAF during his National Service. He relieved the boredom by taking part in amateur dramatics and was encouraged in this by the actor Terry-Thomas, his father’s cousin.
Briers was offered a place at Rada, where he was a contemporary of Albert Finney and Peter O’Toole. For the first time in his young life he found himself excelling, and he won Rada’s silver medal for his portrayal of Hamlet. “Until then, I could just see failure staring me in the face,” he recalled. “Now there was a glimmer of hope.”
He made his professional debut at the Playhouse Theatre in Liverpool, where he met his wife, Ann Davies, herself an actress. “My first professional part,” Briers recalled, “was as a botanist who was mad about getting rare plants from America, and I’ve played fanatics on and off ever since.”
After touring in a farce, Something About A Sailor, and spells in rep at Leatherhead and Coventry, Briers made his first London appearance opposite one of the West End’s most famous theatrical couples, John Clements and Kay Hammond, in Lionel Hale’s comedy Gilt And Gingerbread (Duke of York’s, 1959). Other early West End work included Double Yoke (St Martin’s), It’s In The Bag (Duke of York’s) and Noël Coward’s Present Laughter (Queen’s).
Unlike some actors, Briers was not content with the notion of “resting” between jobs. His childhood poverty made him yearn for financial security; he seized every opportunity that came his way, and was careful with his money.
His break into television came in 1962, as a troubled pupil barrister in Henry Cecil’s Brothers In Law in a 13-part adaptation by Frank Muir and Denis Norden. Although he was a success in the first series, he declined to take part in a second, despite being offered double the money. “I wanted to be an actor rather than a TV personality,” he explained, although in the event it was television that drove his career forward.
Created specially for him, Marriage Lines (1963-66) was the series that established him in the public eye. Briers starred as a young man adjusting to married life with his former secretary in a small flat in Earl’s Court, south-west London. The series ran for 45 episodes and helped Briers to establish the amiably enthusiastic comic persona that became his signature.
His stage career continued in parallel, his most notable parts being Mortimer Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace (Vaudeville, 1966); Moon in The Real Inspector Hound (Criterion, 1968); and two of his favourite roles as Butley in the play of the same name in 1972, and Sidney Hopcroft in Absurd Person Singular at the Criterion in 1973.

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In 1972 Briers returned to Shakespeare in the title role of Richard III on a provincial tour for Toby Robertson’s Prospect Productions. A decade or so later he earned further critical respect, particularly as Hjalmar Ekdal, the naive father in Ibsen’s grim masterpiece The Wild Duck (Lyric, Hammersmith, 1980), and as Uncle Vanya, for Kenneth Branagh’s touring Renaissance Theatre Company.
Briers’s television career continued to flourish with parts in The Other One (1977-79); One-Upmanship (1976-78); and the Alan Ayckbourn trilogy The Norman Conquests (ITV, 1977). When he befriended Kenneth Branagh, the young actor cast Briers in stage productions of Twelfth Night (1987), King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (both 1990) and Coriolanus (1992), and in his film versions of Henry V (1989), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Frankenstein (1994) and In The Bleak Midwinter (1995). Hitherto Briers’s film career had been comparatively low-key, with appearances in A Matter Of Who (1961), All The Way Up (1970) and Rentadick (1972).
Between 2000 and 2005 Briers played the engagingly dotty laird Hector MacDonald in the BBC Television series Monarch of the Glen, alongside Susan Hampshire, Alastair Mackenzie and Julian Fellowes.
Off camera, Briers’s pursuits were essentially suburban: gardening or drinking in the garden, golf, entertaining friends and reading. He took a particular interest in theatre history, and was a member of the Garrick. He published four books, Natter Natter (1981); Coward and Company (1987); A Little Light Weeding (1993); and A Taste of the Good Life (1995).
For many years Briers and his wife divided their time between a house in Bedford Park, west London, designed by Norman Shaw, and a country cottage to which he escaped as often as he could.
He was appointed OBE in 1989 and CBE in 2003.
Diagnosed with emphysema in 2008, he estimated that he had smoked half a million cigarettes before giving up the habit in 2003.

Peter Gilmore

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Date of Birth: 25 August 1947, Leipzig, Germany.
Birth Name: Peter Gilmore

James Onedin, the protagonist of the long-running BBC television series The Onedin Line, gained his splendid name from a sea nymph. After the programme's creator, Cyril Abraham, had read about mythological figure Ondine, he transposed the "e", thus making her a man. And what a man: Peter Gilmore, who played Onedin in 91 episodes from 1971 to 1980, had tousled hair, flinty eyes, hollow cheeks, mutton-chop sideburns racing across his cheek, lips pulled severely down, chin thrust indomitably forward to face down the brewing gale.
The sea captain did not so much talk as emit salty barks that brooked no demur. In 1972, while filming, Gilmore was buzzed by speedboats from the Royal Naval College. Still in character as Onedin, he yelled irascibly at the tyro sailors: "Taxpayers' money! Where are your guns? What use would you be if the Russians came?"

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Like Horatio Nelson, Francis Drake and to a lesser extent the early 70s prime minister Edward Heath, the very cut of Gilmore's jib suggested that the British if only in prime-time costume dramas still ruled the waves. For many, Gilmore's name conjures up the stirring Adagio from Khachaturian's ballet Spartacus that was used on the opening credits. Madly and marvellously, Onedin set up a shipping line with sailing vessels in late-19th century Liverpool at a time when steamships were taking over the seaways.
By series two, his business model had seen off the sceptics but his wife, Anne, had died in childbirth. That plot twist was partly explained by the fact that the actor who played her, Anne Stallybrass, had decided to return to the theatre.
To honour his dead wife's memory, Onedin added a steamship to his fleet called the Anne Onedin and then allowed Kate Nelligan (as a coal-merchant's eligible daughter) and Caroline Harris (as a 20-something worldly wise widow) to vie for his affections. He spurned both, marrying his daughter's governess, Letty Gaunt, who died of diphtheria. By the eighth and last series, Onedin was married to a third wife, Margarita Juarez, and had become a grandfather.
Before Howards' Way, The Onedin Line was the BBC's nautical franchise: Abraham wrote five novels loosely based on his television scripts, while Gilmore was frequently asked to launch ships and was also bombarded with fan mail and advice from veteran sailors. He parlayed fame into reviving a former career as a singer, releasing in 1974 an album of sailor shanties called Songs of the Sea and in 1977 another called Peter Gilmore Sings Gently.
He regretted that he became too typecast as Onedin to get other lead roles. In 1978 he starred opposite Doug McLure in the film Warlords of Atlantis as an archaeologist searching for the fabled underwater city who ends up battling a giant octopus and other sea monsters.
Gilmore was born in the German city of Leipzig. At the age of six, he moved to Nunthorpe, near Middlesbrough, where he was raised by relatives, later attending the Friends' school in Great Ayton, north Yorkshire. From the age of 14 he worked in a factory, but later studied at Rada. While undertaking national service in 1950 he discovered a talent for singing and after his discharge joined singing groups who performed all over the country.
During the 1950s and 60s he became a stalwart of British stage musicals, appearing in several largely unsuccessful shows, including one called Hooray for Daisy! in which he was the chief human in a drama about a pantomime cow. He even released a single in 1960 as a spin-off from his performance in Follow That Girl, Susan Hampshire's only foray into musicals. In 1958 he appeared on the pop programme Cool for Cats, where he met the actor Una Stubbs, then one of the Dougie Squires Dancers, who were weekly tasked with interpreting hit songs in movement. The couple were married from 1958 until 1969.

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His success at this time in British and US TV commercials led him to be cast in comedies, with 11 appearances in Carry On films, two of which Carry On Jack (1963) and Carry On Cleo (1964) gave him early nautical roles. In 1970 he married Jan Waters, with whom he starred in both stage and television productions of The Beggar's Opera, he playing the highwayman Captain Macheath.

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The Onedin Line brought Gilmore the fame that had eluded him. In 1976, he and Jan divorced and he started living with Stallybrass, whom he married in 1987. In 1984 a new generation of viewers saw Gilmore as Brazen, the security chief of a distant human colony called Frontios in Doctor Who's 21st series. Brazen died heroically while helping the Doctor escape. Gilmore made his last stage appearance in 1987 in Michael Frayn's Noises Off and his last screen one in the 1996 television movie On Dangerous Ground.

Michael Winner

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Date of Birth: 30 October 1935, Hampstead, London, England, UK
Birth Name: Michael Robert Winner
Nicknames: Michael Winner

Michael Winner, supplied interviewers with a list of more than 30 films he had directed, not always including the early travelogue This Is Belgium (1956), mostly shot in East Grinstead. But his enduring work was himself a bravura creation of movies, television, journalism, the law courts and a catchphrase, ''Calm down, dear", from an exasperating series of television commercials.
He was born in London, the only child of George and Helen Winner, who were of Russian and Polish extraction respectively. His builder father made enough money propping up blitzed houses to invest in London property. The profits funded his wife's gambling, which, her son complained, so distracted "Mumsie" that he was never paid due attention. She left him in the bedroom with the mink coats of guests who came to his barmitzvah only to play poker with her.
A boarder at St Christopher school, a Quaker establishment in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, Winner was an attention seeker from start to expulsion. According to his school reports he was "spoilt" with a "craving for power which he is trying to achieve by the use of his money". He also earned a "reputation of being movie mad" after he pinned handwritten reviews on the noticeboard.
When the publisher Paul Hamlyn addressed the school, Winner, then 14, asked for copies of all his film books and phoned him, reversing the charges, until they were sent. He then approached British studios, claiming to write for Hamlyn, and when that scam was found out, turned his acquaintance with a child actor into an article for the Kensington Post in 1950. It became a regular, syndicated showbiz column: he was not paid, but the seats were free and he had the undivided attention of Bob Hope, Louis Armstrong and Danny Kaye. That became a permanent part of his persona – the enfant terrible among the stars.
For his father, he studied law and economics at Downing College, Cambridge, and also edited the Varsity newspaper. He persuaded the owner of the Rex cinema in Cambridge to apply to the local council to approve a showing of The Wild One, banned by the censor because of its violence. The stunt attracted nationwide interest.

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After university, television companies turned Winner down for a directors' course, so he wrote for both TV and film, and was a gossip columnist of sorts. He hired a Rolls-Royce and was, said a fellow writer, "a master at gathering banal quotes from silly girls down to the last burp". He invented a debutante, Venetia Crust, a fiction for which he was eventually exposed (later he used the name of her "father", Arnold, for movie credits).
Winner's father loaned him £1,500 for his first film, money soon recouped as Some Like It Cool (1962) filled a gap in the market for a comedy in a nudist camp. It was among several films he confected in the early 1960s. None demonstrated his maxim "create your own material to get a better class of employment", but they did end a period in which he sacked secretaries rather than have them know that he had no deals going.
Winner shared a new blokey humour emerging in post-Brylcreem Britain: after directing Billy Fury in Play It Cool (1962) and accurately reproducing bedsitter-land in West 11 (1963), he made The System (1964); You Must Be Joking! (1965) for which he blew up a car in Piccadilly Circus in the rush hour and told police he had no idea who was in charge; The Jokers (1966); and I'll Never Forget What's 'Isname (1967), with Oliver Reed and Orson Welles.
Winner extended his boy-genius phase by phoning reference books on his 30th birthday to tell them he was 29, knowing entries would not be changed for three years. He went on the road to make Hannibal Brooks (1969), a comedy lumbering through 200 locations, working again with Reed, and The Games (1969), about an Olympic marathon.
"I was looking for something that would keep us employed," he said of his move to Hollywood. "You don't have that much choice." Rejecting The French Connection as a project, he began with the westerns Lawman (1971), shot in Spain with rubber cacti, and Chato's Land (1972).
His real metier turned out to be primitive violence. Winner despised analysis, but it is significant that he directed testosterone fuelled revenge fantasies during the years when his by then widowed mother (a "nice, little, white-haired lady … She was a killer") sold paintings and antiques left to Winner to fund her casino losses, and set 11 firms of solicitors on him.

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Winner mentioned to the actor Charles Bronson the idea of a man "justified" by the rape and murder of his womenfolk to shoot muggers, which led to Winner directing Death Wish (1974), and two sequels. He also directed coarse versions of The Big Sleep (with Robert Mitchum, 1978) and The Wicked Lady (1983 – he saw the original 20 times for Margaret Lockwood's bosom). All of these, as Bronson remarked, were abusively hard on women. In 1993 Winner converted Helen Zahavi's novel Dirty Weekend into a fantasy of a female exterminating angel, but it hardly evened the score (nor squared with his claim that his favourite film was Bambi).
Critics disliked a pleasureless tension gripping his films, whether it be The Nightcomers (1971), a prequel to The Turn of the Screw; Won Ton Ton The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976); or Alan Ayckbourn's A Chorus of Disapproval (1989). Winner was always quick to challenge the press he taped his interviews either directly or through legal action (he gave away the damages). Papers would get a warning from the company, Scimitar Films, he ran with John Fraser: back at school, Winner had paid Fraser two shillings a week to clean his room and make his beds, and sixpence for washing up.
In 1984 he set up the Police Memorial Trust in response to the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher. Several years later he proposed a naff memorial to officers killed in the course of duty, featuring snarling alsatians (the Queen suggested their mouths be shut).

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He began to describe films as a hobby, since he had sufficient millions for Learjet rides, a garage of cars that he drove Mr Toadishly and the slow repurchase of the rest of the Holland Park house in one flat of which his family had lived. The restored mansion, Woodland House, the former home of the Victorian artist Sir Luke Fildes, has more than 40 rooms and housed his valuable collection of artwork for children's books, including EH Shepard's drawings of Winnie-the-Pooh. He also collected the artwork of Donald McGill, master of the ribald, big‑bosomed seaside postcard.
A succession of young women shared evenings among his antiques, but did not live on the premises, where more regular companions included five full-time cleaners and herds of soft toys. On more solitary evenings he cut and glued table mats, and said obituarists would describe him as a "table-mat maker", adding "film‑maker" if there were space.
Eventually, he re-encountered Geraldine Lynton-Edwards, whom he had met in 1957 when she was a teenage ballet dancer; they were engaged in 2007, and married in 2011. He had intended to leave his house to the nation, but put it up for sale for £60m just before his marriage. He also auctioned much of his art collection, but swore this was not to repay £9m he had borrowed for little luxuries, including the hire of helicopters. He did not part with his autograph album of star signatures, or the teddy bears.
"I ate cornflakes on my own," he replied to questions about his swinging life when he was young and slender, although it was never all that he ate, and certainly not after the Sunday Times encouraged him into restaurant reviewing for his Winner's Dinners columns (published in book form in 1999). These were less about digestion than self-definition: several famous eateries banned him for his bullying.

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His "calm down" catchphrase in the telly ads he directed and appeared in (once in drag) for the Esure insurance company displaced his own excitability and fluster on to (female) others. Esure sold a million policies during his era, before replacing him with a stop-motion-animated mouse. By then the ''calm down'' line had developed its own career David Cameron was heavily criticised when, during prime minister's questions in 2011, he directed it against the Labour MP Angela Eagle. Winner himself had been a fervent supporter of Margaret Thatcher, before a Blairite conversion.
He retired from his restaurant column in December 2012. His last years had been a tribulation involving a near-fatal bacterial infection from oysters, MRSA and liver disease.

Sophiya Haque

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Date of Birth: 14 June 1971, Portsmouth, England, UK
Birth Name: Sophiya Haque

Sophiya Haque's performance in Peter Nichols's Privates on Parade, which opened last month at the Noël Coward theatre, marked a high point in the beautiful British Asian actor's West End career, launched 10 years ago with Andrew Lloyd Webber's presentation of Bombay Dreams. As the lustrous Welsh Eurasian Sylvia Morgan, Haque held her own among the knobbly kneed privates, led by Simon Russell Beale's outrageous Captain Terri Dennis. However, illness forced her to withdraw from the production before the end of the year and she has died of cancer at the age of 41.
Born in Portsmouth, Haque was the youngest of three daughters. She was raised by her mother, Thelma, a divorced schoolteacher. She attended Priory comprehensive school and took dance lessons from the age of two and a half at Mary Forrester's Rainbow School of Dance before moving at the age of 13 to London (where she lived with her father, Amirul Haque, a restaurateur, and his second wife), training full-time at the Arts Educational Schools. By night, she wrote and recorded songs as the lead vocalist with the band Akasa and this led to a record deal with WEA Records UK in 1988.
Akasa's music video One Night in My Life, directed by the great cinematographer Jack Cardiff, attracted the attention of MTV Asia and Haque was employed as a presenter at Star TV in Hong Kong in 1992, becoming known as the first lady of music television, her daily shows transmitted in 53 countries.

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From 1994, she began appearing on TV in India and in 1997 she moved to Mumbai full-time to work on the Channel V India service. Her first Bollywood movie was Khoobsurat (1999), with the Indian star Sanjay Dutt, and she later made several more including The Rising (2005), with Aamir Khan as a hero of the Indian mutiny of 1857.
She was a huge star by the time she returned to the UK in 2002 to appear in Bombay Dreams – at first in a minor part, understudying the lead role, Rani, knowing she would take over six months later. The show used music by AR Rahman, with a libretto by Meera Syal and lyrics by Don Black. Everyone had their favourite scenes: the exciting train-top sequence, the dance around the fountains leading to a crop of wet saris or the irresistible number Shakalaka Baby.
Bombay Dreams suggested a new, vibrant direction for the British Asian musical, but this initiative received a setback in Haque's next starring vehicle. In an adaptation of MM Kaye's British Raj blockbuster novel The Far Pavilions, at the Shaftesbury in 2005, she played a wicked stepmother who seduces a maharajah with her dance routine.

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Haque segued into Coronation Street in 2008, appearing for six months as Poppy Morales, a barmaid in the Rovers Return who was responsible for sacking one of the show's most popular characters, the long-serving Betty Williams (Betty Driver). She also took a small supporting role in the movie Wanted (2008), starring Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and James McAvoy.

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Her musical theatre career was back on track in Britain's Got Bhanghra (2010) by Pravesh Kumar and Sumeet Chopra at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, which charted the fortunes of an Indian immigrant and the rise of the Punjabi music genre in Britain over the past 30 years. She played a ruthless entrepreneur realising that bhangra means big bucks in what Michael Billington described as a "blood transfusion" for the British musical.
Later that year she popped up in Gandhi and Coconuts by Bettina Gracias, one of the last productions at the old Arcola theatre in Dalston, east London. She played a depressed and lonely housewife, escaping to the India of her imagination when Mahatma Gandhi and the Hindu deities Shiva and Kali turn up unannounced for tea.
In 2012 she returned to the forefront in Wah! Wah! Girls by Tanika Gupta (book and lyrics) and Niraj Chag (music), an exuberant, colourful dance show, produced by the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, with Sadler's Wells, directed by Kneehigh's Emma Rice at the Peacock theatre as part of the World Stages London festival. The musical registered the changing social and feminist dynamic in India as refracted through an East End of London storyline. Haque was nothing short of sensational as Soraya, a dance club owner whose own act is one of intense erotic sensuality and blazingly proud defiance. The choreography took up where Bombay Dreams had left off, developing a new stage language of show routines and kathak disco dance.
Privates on Parade, a great success, was the first offering of the Michael Grandage Company in the West End, a project that is giving a facelift to London theatre with its reasonable ticket pricing, high production values and relentless star casting. The show runs until 2 March and the rest of the performances are dedicated to Haque's memory.

Charles Durning

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Date of Birth: 28 February 1923, Highland Falls, New York, US
Birth Name: Charles Edward Durning
Nicknames: Charles Durning

Charles Durning first grabbed audience attention as the crooked Lieutenant Snyder in The Sting (1973). He makes an explosive appearance, tearing down an alley after the slick grifter played by Robert Redford, and repeatedly lurches out of the shadows throughout the rest of the film. Durning had only a handful of scenes, and over the next 40 years would seldom be granted more screen time in 200-odd film and TV roles. Nevertheless, his jowly face, with its boxer's nose and sly eyes, grew increasingly familiar, and his name in the opening titles usually promised good things ahead. His heavyset frame meant he was often cast as tough guys, but he later assumed more jovial roles, portraying Father Christmas several times.
His first Oscar nomination came for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), an ebullient musical about the southern hospitality offered at a brothel called the Chicken Ranch. Durning plays the slippery Texan governor who must decide whether to close down the establishment. His evasive nature is captured in a magical song-and-dance routine: "I love to dance a little sidestep," he sings. "Now they see me, now they don't …"
Durning's second Oscar nomination was for playing another character uneasy with his authority – the nougat-loving Gestapo chief Colonel Erhardt in To Be Or Not to Be (1983), Mel Brooks's remake of Ernst Lubitsch's classic about a Polish theatre company's attempt to outsmart the Nazis. Durning has some of the funniest scenes in the film. He barks commands at a hapless captain (Christopher Lloyd), then blames him when his plans backfire. Making doe eyes at Anne Bancroft, he tells her: "Consider yourself in the arms of the Gestapo." It is a broad comic role in a film that balances farce with tragedy.

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Durning knew first-hand the horrors of war. Born in Highland Falls, New York state, he grew up near the military academy at West Point. His mother, Louise, laundered the clothes of the cadets there. His father, James, was badly injured in the first world war. Charles joined the army aged 17 and took part in the D-day landing aged 21. In a Memorial Day speech in 2007, he recalled: "I was the second man off my barge, and the first and third man got killed." Shot in the hip shortly afterwards, he spent months in hospital, then fought at the Battle of the Bulge. He received the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts.
Durning was a boxer, ice-cream seller and dance instructor before establishing himself as an actor. He cut his teeth in Shakespearean productions staged by Joe Papp and, in 1972, won a Drama Desk award for his performance in That Championship Season on Broadway.

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By then, he had played his first film roles. In Brian De Palma's Hi, Mom! (1970), he is the slobbish superintendent who shows off an unsanitary apartment to a prospective tenant (played by Durning's friend Robert De Niro, who recommended him for the part). He re-teamed with De Palma for Sisters (later Blood Sisters, 1973) and The Fury (1978); in the latter, he is the director of a research facility judging psychic ability, and supervises a female patient who unlocks his own troubling secrets. That decade he also took police roles in Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and the TV series The Cop and the Kid (1975-76).

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In Tootsie (1982), he was the wealthy widower Les Nichols, who falls hopelessly in love with the TV star Dorothy Michaels, not knowing that behind the drag makeup is the luckless actor Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman), who is infatuated with Les's daughter. Les's pursuit of Dorothy is full of funny moments – when he squeezes on to a garden swing with her at his ranch, it creaks under his weight but it touches on pathos, too, particularly when Les speaks of his wife, and when he makes his move on Dorothy with an excruciating proposal.
With his physical bulk and commanding presence, Durning was perfectly cast as the tyrannical tycoon Big Daddy in Cat On a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway in 1990, for which he won a Tony award. He also looked at home as Chief Brandon in the box-office hit Dick Tracy (1990). Regrettably, fewer saw one of his best performances, in The Music of Chance (1993), based on Paul Auster's novel. He played Bill Flower, a former accountant who believes he has the Midas touch. Flower and a fellow millionaire host a card game and when their opponent (James Spader) cannot settle his debts, they make him and his friend build a wailing wall from 10,000 bricks. Durning was never creepier, seldom more sadistic.
In the Coen brothers' comedy The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), he was the bigwig who, in a boardroom meeting, runs the length of a conference table and throws himself out of the window. "We cast Durning on the idea that a fat person falling 40 floors is a lot funnier than a thin person falling 40 floors," said Joel Coen. "Charles actually used to be a dancer and all that stuff he does at the beginning where he gets up and digs his heel and shakes the tension out of his body was all Charles. He choreographed all his movements."
In O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), another Coen brothers' production, he was the cantankerous Mississippi governor Pappy O'Daniel, whose re-election campaign is boosted by a trio of convicts turned musicians, the Soggy Bottom Boys. Pappy joins them on stage for a rousing version of You Are My Sunshine.
That year, Durning starred in two comedy films written by David Mamet Lakeboat, and State and Main and appeared on stage in New Jersey in Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross. There was little to distinguish his subsequent films such as Kinky Killers (2007), a nasty piece of work, but he evidently relished voicing Peter Griffin's mean-spirited stepfather in the animated TV series Family Guy.
He remained bracingly prolific and kept a straightforward approach. "Of course, I'm often not the top dog," he told Playbill in 2000, "but sometimes it's better not to be top dog, because you last longer.

Robert Marlowe

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Date of Birth: 19 April 1929, England, UK
Birth Name: Robert Marlowe

The days of the summer show, especially those staged on seaside piers, are almost over. One who championed their cause in the latter years was Robert Marlowe, who became particularly associated with productions in the Norfolk resort of Cromer.
He was stagestruck as a child. At the age of eight, he built a theatre from a summer house, designed and painted its sets and played a starring role, wearing a crimson velvet cloak with a fur-lined collar.
He worked first in engineering and dentistry, but then took up ballroom dancing and began winning medals as a teacher. His professional theatrical career began in a summer show at Clacton in Essex in 1953, followed by a pantomime at the Alhambra, Bradford, in which he quickly had to learn how to dance on stilts.

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Soon after that, he joined a nationwide tour of a Folies Bergere production, Paris to Piccadilly, which had enjoyed a long run in the West End. He spent four years with the comedian famous for his “odd odes”, Cyril Fletcher, who also ran summer shows. Over the years, Marlowe worked as a dancer, singer, cabaret artist, actor and writer of pantomimes.
His first association with Cromer came in 1982 when, at the invitation of the impresario Richard Condon, he took over a show in which the cast of 12 was occasionally outnumbered by the audience. Soon Marlowe’s production, Seaside Special, was attracting coachloads of theatregoers from all over eastern and south-east England. He ran the show for 20 years.
One of his friends, Paul Holman, whose company presents pantomimes and summer shows, said: “Bob was a great man of the theatre. He was an inspirational man and his passion was his profession.”

Larry Hagman

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Date of Birth: 21 September 1931, Fort Worth, Texas, US
Birth Name: Larry Martin Hagman
Nicknames: Larry Hagman

On 21 November 1980, 83 million people in the US and 24 million in the UK watched the TV show Dallas to see who had shot the villainous JR Ewing. While working late at the office, the boss of Ewing Oil was suddenly fired on by an unseen assailant. Who shot JR, and would he survive?
Any character who had ever come into contact with the oleaginous Texas oilman had good reason to do away with him, but there was no way he could really have been killed off. If JR had died, then the series would have died, because JR was Dallas – and Larry Hagman, who has died aged 81 after suffering from throat cancer, was JR.
Other actors were at times replaced in their roles, but Hagman was irreplaceable. Nevertheless, just in case, Hagman quickly renegotiated his contract with Lorimar Studios just after the episode in which he was shot, securing an annual salary of around £0.62m. JR thus survived the attempt on his life, and continued his scheming ways for another 10 seasons.
One should not underestimate Hagman's achievement in becoming the man the whole world loved to hate, the focal character of this progressively preposterous soap opera. With his bug eyes, smarmy grin and dicey hairpiece, Hagman generated a certain lethal charm as he went about betraying trusts and manipulating innocent people. He was Machiavelli in a Stetson, the evil face of capitalism though, according to Hagman, "JR has lost Ewing Oil more than £9.98m."
Hagman, nominated twice for an Emmy award, though he never won, was the only member of the cast to be in all 357 episodes of Dallas from 1978 to 1991. Ironically, nothing in his previous acting career had indicated Hagman was other than a competent light-comedy actor whose fame would be strictly limited, despite being the son of Mary Martin, known as the "first lady of the Broadway musical".
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, he was brought up for a while by his grandmother after his parents divorced when he was five; he was then shunted between his mother and his district attorney father, Benjamin Hagman, and was moved around various private schools and psychotherapists.
At the age of 20, Hagman moved to London as a member of the chorus of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, which starred his mother as Nellie Forbush, the role she created on Broadway. Hagman and Sean Connery, a year older, were among the shirtless sailors who sang There Is Nothing Like a Dame.

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After a year at Drury Lane, Hagman joined the US air force. Four years later he resumed his acting career in earnest, getting roles on television and in films. Hagman made little impression in his first Hollywood movies, as servicemen in Joshua Logan's Ensign Pulver (1964) and in Otto Preminger's In Harm's Way (1965). However, he was very good playing weak men in two Sidney Lumet films: as the US president's nervous Russian interpreter in the nuclear scare story Fail-Safe (1964), and as Joanna Pettet's playwright husband with a penchant for wine and women in The Group (1966).
In Harry and Tonto (1974), he was the selfish, whining son of retired teacher Art Carney. He hammed it up as an incompetent, gung-ho American colonel in The Eagle Has Landed (1976), and as a caricatured Hollywood studio executive in Blake Edwards's S.O.B. (1981).
But it was television that was the foundation of his career. Hagman had scores of TV appearances. His first real success came in I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70), in which he played a befuddled bachelor astronaut who finds himself master of a glamorous, 2,000-year-old genie (Barbara Eden). Continuing to display a deft light touch, Hagman went on to appear in other mildly amusing sitcoms.

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Then came the long-running Dallas, which Variety initially called "a limited series with a limited future". Robert Foxworth was originally cast as JR, but he wanted the role softened too much for the producer's taste, and Hagman was the perspicacious second choice.
Hagman differed from JR in most aspects, being amiable and modest, though his liking for practical jokes and dressing up in different guises, such as an English bobby or French foreign legionnaire, gained him the nickname "Wacky Larry" and "The Mad Monk of Malibu". He was, like JR, a heavy drinker, which led to his developing cirrhosis of the liver; he had a transplant that saved his life. Thereafter, Hagman was active in several organisations that advocated organ donation and transplantation. A passionate non-smoker, he also served as the chairperson of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout, from 1981 to 1992.

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In 1996, Hagman reprised his infamous alter ego in a TV special called JR Returns, in which the dysfunctional Ewing family is reunited. Then, acting against type, he showed his range as a benevolent judge in Orleans (1997). Among Hagman's few later feature films was Mike Nichols's Primary Colors (1998), in which Hagman was convincing as a populist, plain-speaking Florida governor. Hagman himself, a member of the Peace and Freedom party, once described fellow Texan George Bush as "a sad figure, not too well educated, who doesn't get out of America much. He's leading the country towards fascism."
In recent years, Hagman became a prominent campaigner for alternative energy, transforming his California home into one of the world's biggest solar-powered estates. He revelled in the paradox of TV's most famous oil man driving an electric car, and his disgust with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill led him to agree to star as JR in a SolarWorld TV advert, in which he parodied vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's use of the phrase "Drill, baby, drill" with the pro-solar slogan "Shine, baby, shine".
Though he appeared in a couple of 2011 episodes of Desperate Housewives, Hagman largely retired from acting. Nonetheless, earlier this year he joined co-stars Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy in a new 10-episode season of Dallas, adding a further generation to the troubled family and its business.

Larry Hagman

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Date of Birth: 21 September 1931, Fort Worth, Texas, US
Birth Name: Larry Martin Hagman
Nicknames: Larry Hagman

On 21 November 1980, 83 million people in the US and 24 million in the UK watched the TV show Dallas to see who had shot the villainous JR Ewing. While working late at the office, the boss of Ewing Oil was suddenly fired on by an unseen assailant. Who shot JR, and would he survive?
Any character who had ever come into contact with the oleaginous Texas oilman had good reason to do away with him, but there was no way he could really have been killed off. If JR had died, then the series would have died, because JR was Dallas – and Larry Hagman, who has died aged 81 after suffering from throat cancer, was JR.
Other actors were at times replaced in their roles, but Hagman was irreplaceable. Nevertheless, just in case, Hagman quickly renegotiated his contract with Lorimar Studios just after the episode in which he was shot, securing an annual salary of around £0.62m. JR thus survived the attempt on his life, and continued his scheming ways for another 10 seasons.
One should not underestimate Hagman's achievement in becoming the man the whole world loved to hate, the focal character of this progressively preposterous soap opera. With his bug eyes, smarmy grin and dicey hairpiece, Hagman generated a certain lethal charm as he went about betraying trusts and manipulating innocent people. He was Machiavelli in a Stetson, the evil face of capitalism though, according to Hagman, "JR has lost Ewing Oil more than £9.98m."
Hagman, nominated twice for an Emmy award, though he never won, was the only member of the cast to be in all 357 episodes of Dallas from 1978 to 1991. Ironically, nothing in his previous acting career had indicated Hagman was other than a competent light-comedy actor whose fame would be strictly limited, despite being the son of Mary Martin, known as the "first lady of the Broadway musical".
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, he was brought up for a while by his grandmother after his parents divorced when he was five; he was then shunted between his mother and his district attorney father, Benjamin Hagman, and was moved around various private schools and psychotherapists.
At the age of 20, Hagman moved to London as a member of the chorus of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, which starred his mother as Nellie Forbush, the role she created on Broadway. Hagman and Sean Connery, a year older, were among the shirtless sailors who sang There Is Nothing Like a Dame.

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After a year at Drury Lane, Hagman joined the US air force. Four years later he resumed his acting career in earnest, getting roles on television and in films. Hagman made little impression in his first Hollywood movies, as servicemen in Joshua Logan's Ensign Pulver (1964) and in Otto Preminger's In Harm's Way (1965). However, he was very good playing weak men in two Sidney Lumet films: as the US president's nervous Russian interpreter in the nuclear scare story Fail-Safe (1964), and as Joanna Pettet's playwright husband with a penchant for wine and women in The Group (1966).
In Harry and Tonto (1974), he was the selfish, whining son of retired teacher Art Carney. He hammed it up as an incompetent, gung-ho American colonel in The Eagle Has Landed (1976), and as a caricatured Hollywood studio executive in Blake Edwards's S.O.B. (1981).
But it was television that was the foundation of his career. Hagman had scores of TV appearances. His first real success came in I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70), in which he played a befuddled bachelor astronaut who finds himself master of a glamorous, 2,000-year-old genie (Barbara Eden). Continuing to display a deft light touch, Hagman went on to appear in other mildly amusing sitcoms.

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Then came the long-running Dallas, which Variety initially called "a limited series with a limited future". Robert Foxworth was originally cast as JR, but he wanted the role softened too much for the producer's taste, and Hagman was the perspicacious second choice.
Hagman differed from JR in most aspects, being amiable and modest, though his liking for practical jokes and dressing up in different guises, such as an English bobby or French foreign legionnaire, gained him the nickname "Wacky Larry" and "The Mad Monk of Malibu". He was, like JR, a heavy drinker, which led to his developing cirrhosis of the liver; he had a transplant that saved his life. Thereafter, Hagman was active in several organisations that advocated organ donation and transplantation. A passionate non-smoker, he also served as the chairperson of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout, from 1981 to 1992.

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In 1996, Hagman reprised his infamous alter ego in a TV special called JR Returns, in which the dysfunctional Ewing family is reunited. Then, acting against type, he showed his range as a benevolent judge in Orleans (1997). Among Hagman's few later feature films was Mike Nichols's Primary Colors (1998), in which Hagman was convincing as a populist, plain-speaking Florida governor. Hagman himself, a member of the Peace and Freedom party, once described fellow Texan George Bush as "a sad figure, not too well educated, who doesn't get out of America much. He's leading the country towards fascism."
In recent years, Hagman became a prominent campaigner for alternative energy, transforming his California home into one of the world's biggest solar-powered estates. He revelled in the paradox of TV's most famous oil man driving an electric car, and his disgust with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill led him to agree to star as JR in a SolarWorld TV advert, in which he parodied vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's use of the phrase "Drill, baby, drill" with the pro-solar slogan "Shine, baby, shine".
Though he appeared in a couple of 2011 episodes of Desperate Housewives, Hagman largely retired from acting. Nonetheless, earlier this year he joined co-stars Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy in a new 10-episode season of Dallas, adding a further generation to the troubled family and its business.

Clive Dunn

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Date of Birth: 9 January 1920 , Brixton, London, England, UK
Birth Name: Clive Robert Benjamin Dunn
Nicknames: Clive Dunn

Though he was master of all sorts of old-man parts, he will be remembered with most affection as Lance Corporal Jones in the BBC television send-up of life in the wartime Home Guard, Dad's Army (1968-77).
His dithery butcher, slipping a few favoured lady customers some choice cuts from under the counter and then, in his spare time, trying his ineffectual best to keep order for the officious Captain Mainwaring, became such a popular figure that his catchphrase, "Don't panic!", delivered in the agitated tones of a running chicken hanging on with difficulty to the last shreds of its dignity, was repeated with guffaws in homes throughout the land.

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The air of good nature with which he imbued the role removed any offence from some of Jones's other catchphrases, such as his constantly reiterated explanation, derived possibly from service in Africa, of why the enemy disliked the bayonet: "They don't like it up 'em, sir!" When in the late 1970s, British sausage manufacturers wanted their first competition, staged at Alexandra Palace, north London, to be opened by someone who suggested both the spirit of Britain and the no-nonsense appeal of the sausage, their choice was Dunn. He also toured for the Egg Marketing Board.
For broad comedy, he was a natural. His father and grandfather had been comics and wanted him to follow the same route, but the young Clive had other ideas. Born in Brixton, London, and educated at Sevenoaks school, Kent, he set his heart on becoming a film cameraman, something which appealed to his visual imagination, he later became an accomplished amateur painter and his sense of security.
In the event, after the Italia Conti acting school, he lined up a job as a teaboy and general dogsbody with British Movietone News just before that company went out of business. His chosen course no longer seemed quite so secure. At the Italia Conti he had drifted towards comedy when he was sent up the road to play a dragon on a high wire and a frog at the Holborn Empire.
Richard Todd, later to become a cinema heart-throb, was in the same acting class. They both appeared before the then queen, the eventual Queen Mother, in a school ballet. This also signalled that Dunn's future might lie in making people laugh. Partnering an especially well-built girl and trying to pick her up, he slipped and dropped her. Despite or perhaps because of this, Dunn was quickly snapped up by talent scouts. He had walk-on parts in Goodbye Mr Chips (1939) and, with Will Hay, in Boys Will Be Boys (1935). When he was still only 17, he toured with British cinema's "bad girl”.
Jean Kent, in a revue called Everybody Cheer. Smitten by her charms, he wrote a song for her, which she sang in Gateshead without being getting booed and in Luton, where she was not so lucky. The infatuation did not prevail, either.
As the patriotic if uncertain lance corporal might well have done, Dunn made several attempts to enlist when the second world war broke out. He eventually joined the 4th Hussars, was captured in Yugoslavia and spent four years as a prisoner of war, held in a room above a barber's shop in Vienna and allowed out at night to do dirty jobs that no one else wanted. It gave him an eye for the oddities of military life.
The television series Bootsie and Snudge (1960-63) first earned him fame as an old-man impersonator. He played Old Johnson, the faithful waiter struggling to preserve order and decorum among those ministering to the gentlemen of the Imperial Club. After the success of this show and Dad's Army, Dunn often sank from public view, though he continued to work in clubs, doing a song and dance routine, he was a trained dancer and ascribed his bandy legs, two of his assets as a comic, to doing too much athletics at school.

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Playing elderly men remained his forte. He even made a recording of his song Grandad, which sold 690,000 copies and was in the charts for 28 weeks in 1970-71, three of them at No 1. Using his oldie reputation, Dunn visited many pensioners' clubs and homes to cheer up the occupants, and once spoke at Trafalgar Square in favour of a campaign for better pensions.
However, he was immensely pleased to be chosen, for a change, to play Frosch, the slurred and tipsy but not necessarily aged jailer in a 1978 English National Opera production of Johann Strauss's opera Die Fledermaus. This, he insisted wryly, was at least one step up from his only other experience of being in opera, a quarter of a century previously in a BBC radio performance of a modern work in which he played someone unable to hear or speak, uttering only grunts and groans synchronised with the dissonant music.
Dunn was appointed OBE in 1975, the year he appeared in a Dad's Army sketch at a Royal Variety Performance. A television series took up his Grandad character (1979-84), and he bowed out of the medium as Verges in Much Ado About Nothing (1984).

Herbert Lom

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Date of Birth: 11 September 1917, Prague, Czech Republic
Birth Name: Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchacevich ze Schluderpacheru
Nicknames: Herbert Lom

The gibbering, nervous jelly eyelids twitching uncontrollably to which Lom, as Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus, is reduced by Clouseau is likely to remain one of film’s most enduring and beloved comic turns. But its huge success masked the fact that, in a career spanning half a century, Lom’s characters were overwhelmingly elegant, poised and suave.
The Pink Panther also overshadowed the fact that he had the looks, certainly in his early career, to be cast as a romantic lead. Lom himself would have liked to have been cast in more such parts, though the bedside manner of his psychiatrist in The Seventh Veil and The Human Jungle proved exceptionally attractive to women.
In the end most of his film roles were variations of smooth villainy with a foreign accent he was usually well-dressed, and often sported a cigarette holder, sometimes even a buttonhole. The result was a faintly sinister manner and air of mystery that was itself highly intoxicating.
He used to attribute being cast so often as a shifty outsider to having arrived in London from his birthplace, Prague, just before the Second World War, when film producers were seeking actors to impersonate the Nazis. “In British eyes,” he once ruefully remarked, “anyone foreign is slightly villainous.”

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He was born Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchacevich ze Schluderpacheru on September 11th 1917. Although his parents wanted him to become a doctor, he attended the Prague School of Acting and then ran a small theatre in the city, finding work in Czech films. It was in flight from the Nazis that, aged 22, he arrived in Britain to study Philosophy at Cambridge University and to act at the Vic-Wells and Embassy schools in London.
During the war he worked for the BBC European Service and in various repertory and touring companies before establishing himself in films. In The Young Mr Pitt (1942) he played Napoleon before, in 1945, becoming the psychiatrist Dr Larsen in The Seventh Veil (1945). It was a part for which he was highly suited, as in his youth Lom had studied Freud and Jung and become acquainted with psychiatric medicine. He had even used hypnosis with friends under medical supervision. Though he had “to age” considerably for the role, his casting was a masterstroke.
Six years later, in 1951, the same fictitious character, Dr Larsen, brought Lom his first West End stage appearance, a welcome departure from his relentless film parts as a sly and doomed opponent of Britain’s interests. In casting him as such, producers overlooked his poise and similarity to the great romantic lead of the pre-war era, Charles Boyer. In contrast to Boyer, Lom rarely found a sympathetic role outside the field of psychiatry on screen, and it was to the London stage that he turned to get a break.
In The King and I (Drury Lane, 1953), for example, he gave the monarch great dignity and charm, opposite Valerie Hobson. Much later, in William Douglas-Home’s Betzi (Haymarket, 1975) he gave Napoleon a powerful and at times moving presence in his last years of exile on St Helena, though scarcely anybody else in the play came to life.
By then he had played the French leader twice before in films in The Young Mr Pitt and in War and Peace (1956). At the time of the latter, he was established, with more than two dozen film credits to his name. Then, in 1963, he moved to the small screen for the television series The Human Jungle, charming the nation again (for once not menacingly) as Dr Roger Corder, a Harley Street psychiatrist, a part which brought him no little fan mail.
The letters he received were almost exclusively from women and read, in effect: “Now we know a psychiatrist as nice as Dr Corder we won’t hesitate to consult our local man.” It was a sentiment that pleased Lom, since he supposed that many people were still afraid of psychiatry and liked to think that he was helping to break down barriers; he had no qualms about consulting psychiatrist friends himself if he felt the need. He denied that the series merely popularised mental illness. “We are popularising mental cure,” he insisted, and a psychiatrist advised on every script.
Each story was based on a real case, though Lom felt that the fiction oversimplified the issue. He also realised that Dr Corder as a character was boring he was not allowed to shout or fall in love, and although the central character, had to stay in the background. “The patients are the scene-stealers,” said Lom. “My ambition now is to play one of them.”
His chance came, so to speak, in the Pink Panther films, in which he proved the perfect foil for Peter Sellers. As the harassed, hapless and fumingly indignant Dreyfus, Lom survived in the series for more than 20 years.
From the outset, in A Shot In The Dark (1964), Lom’s Dreyfus had a job to keep his sanity in the face of Sellers’s exasperating incompetence. By the time the series reached Curse of the Pink Panther (1985) he was usually confined to a mental hospital, though ever anxious to keep twitchingly in touch with the activities of his out-of-control underling.

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The films gave Lom a rare chance to display his talents as a comedian. Though the comedy might have been thought too low for his well-bred elegance of manner, in the event his transformation from assurance to breakdown contributed strikingly to the success of the farce. Otherwise he had few opportunities to be funny because he acted mostly, in upwards of 70 films, on the other side of the law.
In Dual Alibi (1947) he was a murderous trapeze artist. In Night and the City (1950) he was a wrestling promoter after Richard Widmark’s life as an adulterer. In The Ladykillers (1955) he was the only thief in the group against letting the old lady of the lodging house know what they were up to, and met his end under a leisurely locomotive’s wheels.
No Trees In The Street (1959) saw him as the stylish crook who tempted Sylvia Sims to marry him to escape the slums for an even worse fate; in Frightened City (1961) he formed a Soho syndicate of criminals and ended up on a skewer; and in Villa Rides (1968), as a cold-eyed, toadlike general, he ruthlessly dispatched the president of Mexico so that he himself might succeed to the office.
Other films in which Lom made his somewhat icy presence firmly felt included Whispering Smith (1952); The Net (1953); Chase a Crooked Shadow (1958); North-West Frontier (1959); Mr Topaz (1961); Our Man In Marrakesh (1966); The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971); And Then There Were None (1974); The Lady Vanishes (1977); Hopscotch (1981); Memed My Hawk (1983); King Solomon’s Mines (1985); Whoops Apocalypse! and Scoop (1987). His last film, in 1993, was Son of Pink Panther, an ill-advised return to the series, starring Roberto Benigni as Clouseau’s blundering son.
Hebert Lom was the author of two biographies: Enter A Spy (1971) about Christopher Marlowe, and Guillotin: The Eccentric Exploits of an Early Scientist (1992).
His first marriage, to the film distributor Dina Scheu, with whom he had two sons, was dissolved in 1979. He also had a daughter with the potter Brigitta Appleby. A second marriage, to the skincare specialist Eve Lacik, was dissolved in 1990.

Michael Clarke Duncan

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Date of Birth: 10 December 1957, Chicago, Illinois, US
Birth Name: Michael Clarke Duncan
Nicknames: Big Mike

Michael Clarke Duncan was the American actor best known for his film roles as a gentle giant.
Every character actor who has ever been typecast dreams of a role that will transcend the cliches of his image. For Michael Clarke Duncan, who has died aged 54 of complications from a heart attack suffered in July, that breakout role also drew on the hidden truth of his own personality, and the results were spectacular.
Duncan was nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actor in The Green Mile (1999), the film of the Stephen King story in which he plays John Coffey, a gentle giant with extraordinary powers, on death row for raping and killing two young girls. The film's climax, when Coffey, innocent of the crimes but having punished the real killer and an evil guard, goes to the electric chair telling Tom Hanks not to put a hood over his head because he is scared of the dark, left few dry eyes in any audience.

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Born in Chicago, Duncan, 6ft 5in and usually weighing about 20 stone, was himself a gentle giant. His father left when he was six, and his mother Jean's reluctance to allow him to play American football led to his deciding he wanted to become an actor instead.
He played basketball at Kankakee (Illinois) Community College, but when his mother became ill, he dropped out of his communications studies at Alcorn State University, a historically black university in Mississippi. After returning home, he supported his mother and sister, Judy, by digging ditches for a gas company and working as a bouncer at night.
He moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting, again working as a bouncer before getting into the "private security" trade. He had acted as a bodyguard for such entertainment figures as Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx and LL Cool J before breaking into films in 1995 with a bit part in the Ice Cube vehicle Friday. His early film roles, including Warren Beatty's Bulworth (1998), saw him typecast as bouncers and bodyguards, often billed as Michael "Big Mike" Duncan. He gave up his day job as a real bodyguard for good in 1997, when the rapper The Notorious BIG was murdered on the first day Duncan was assigned to him.
Duncan's break came following a part in Armageddon (1998) alongside Bruce Willis, who recommended him to director Frank Darabont for The Green Mile. He went on to work with Willis in three more films: two comedies – Alan Rudolph's adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions (1999) and The Whole Nine Yards (2000) and the noirish blockbuster Sin City (2005).
Although he never found another role with the impact of John Coffey, Duncan remained in demand with substantial parts in blockbusters such as Planet of the Apes (2001), The Scorpion King (2002) and perhaps his best later work as The Kingpin, in Daredevil (2003). To play the comic-book villain he went from weighing less than 20 stone to more than 23.
His career blossomed, as his look made him easily cast for supporting roles in films and frequent guest parts in television series, and his resonant baritone voice made him a popular choice for animation voice-overs, in films such as Cats & Dogs (2001), George of the Jungle 2 (2003), Dinotopia (2005) and Kung Fu Panda (2008). He starred in the comedy The Slammin' Salmon (2009), as a boxer turned restaurant-owner who stages a competition between his waiters to pay off a debt to Japanese gangsters, and was the villain, Erlik, in the straight-to-video Cross (2011), a supernatural action film that also featured Vinnie Jones as a Viking named Gunnar transplanted to the present.

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In 2010 Duncan undertook something of a reprise of his Coffey role in Redemption Road, as a man with a secret who brings home an alcoholic for his father's funeral. His last television role was a recurring part in the crime series Finder.
In 2009 Duncan converted to vegetarianism. The following year, he met his fiancee, the Rev Omarosa Manigault, in the aisles of a Whole Foods supermarket in Los Angeles. Manigault, a considerable presence in "reality" television, made her name as a controversial participant in the American version of The Apprentice with Donald Trump, and feuded with Piers Morgan in The Celebrity Apprentice.
In May this year, Duncan made a film for the animal-rights group Peta, talking about his conversion to a vegan lifestyle, and how he had thrown away £3,135.13 worth of meat when he did. Two months later, he suffered a massive heart attack.