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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Date of Birth: 14 September 1914, Salzburg, Austria
Birth Name: Maria Franziska von Trapp
Nicknames: Maria von Trapp
Maria von Trapp, was the last of the original Trapp Family Singers, whose story of musical success and subsequent flight from Austria during the Nazi regime in the late 1930s was the inspiration for the Broadway show and hugely successful 1965 film, The Sound of Music.
The Von Trapps were an aristocratic Austrian family headed by the decorated naval officer Baron Georg von Trapp and his wife, Agathe. In the wake of Baroness von Trapp’s death in 1922 the family moved to a villa in Aigen in the suburbs of Salzburg. and Maria Augusta Kutschera a young postulent a woman preparing for a nun’s life from the nearby Nonnberg Abbey, was appointed as tutor to the seven Von Trapp children. She was to become the Baron’s second wife (played in the film by Julie Andrews.)
In the mid-1930s the family’s finances were made precarious by the Baron’s investment in a bank which would later fail. Hardened circumstances caused the Von Trapps to stage paid choral concerts (previously a family hobby) with Maria Von Trapp singing second soprano in the choir.
With the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938, Baron von Trapp was offered a commission in the German Navy. An ardent anti-Nazi he refused and decided to flee the country with his entire family. Not, as Hollywood immortalised their journey, overnight across the Alps to Switzerland but by train to Italy in broad daylight before taking a passage to America.
Maria Franziska Gobertina von Trapp was born on September 14th 1914, in Salzburg the third child of Georg and Agathe Von Trapp. Since personal telegrammes were not permitted to be sent to those serving in the military, her father learnt of the birth by a message from his wife in pre-arranged code: “S.M.S Maria arrived”.
Music was an integral part of her family’s life. “My father played the violin and the accordion, and I adored him I wanted to learn all the instruments that he played,” recalled Maria von Trapp late in life (she would play the accordion for the rest of her life).
In The Sound of Music, Maria von Trapp was portrayed as the character “Louisa” by the Canadian actress Heather Menzies-Urich (in her debut role). On the film’s release, Maria and her siblings were surprised by the level of dramatic licence taken in bringing their story to the screen. “We were all pretty shocked at how they portrayed our father, he was so completely different. He always looked after us a lot, especially after our mother died,” said Maria von Trapp. “You have to separate yourself from all that, and you have to get used to it. It is something you simply cannot avoid.”
On settling in America, the family, continued to perform choral concerts and opened a ski lodge in Stowe, Vermont. Here Maria was to play the accordion and teach Austrian dance, with her half-sister Rosmarie, one of three children by Georg von Trapp’s second marriage. Maria von Trapp became a US citizen in 1948 and in the mid-1950s worked alongside her step mother as a lay missionary in Papua New Guinea.
In the summer of 2008 she visited her childhood home in Salzburg, on the eve of the villa opening as a hotel. Staying in the house for the first time since the 1930s she found herself haunted by memories.
“Our whole life is in here, in this house,” she recalled as she walked its corridors. “Especially here in the stairwell, where we always used to slide down the railings.”
Date of Birth: 19 January 1939, Chicago, Illinois, US
Birth Name: Phillip Everly
Nicknames: Phil Everly
Phil Everly, was the younger half of The Everly Brothers, the duo which helped to transform pop music in the 1960s before being eclipsed by the very bands that they had influenced.
The Everlys sprang from the traditional country music with which they had grown up, but in the late 1950s they took up the themes of teenage love and disappointment that became the staple diet of the emerging pop stars of the period. They never fully embraced rock and roll, but their breezy harmonies influenced many of the stars who followed them, including The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Byrds groups whose popularity started to take off as that of the Everlys waned.
As they were overtaken by new musical fashions from the early 1960s onwards, The Everly Brothers continued to perform and record until 1973, when their relationship fractured publicly during a concert in California.
Phillip Everly was born in Chicago on January 19 1939, the son of Ike and Margaret Everly, who had a popular country singing act in the 1940s. He was almost exactly two years younger than his brother Don, but the boys’ parents brought them up as though they were twins. They shared birthday parties, and were dressed in the same clothes Don was not allowed to have a sports jacket until Phil was old enough to have one too.
Both boys attended high school at Shenandoah, Iowa, where their parents had a radio breakfast show, on which Don and Phil sang from childhood. After the family had moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, the brothers met the guitarist and producer Chet Atkins and other figures on the local music scene. They were briefly signed up to Columbia, for which they made their first record, Keep a-Lovin’ Me, which was released in February 1956 but made little impact.
It was when The Everly Brothers were taken up by the Cadence record label that their careers began to take off. In 1957 they recorded Felice and Boudleaux Bryant’s Bye Bye Love, on which Phil and Don played guitars alongside Chet Atkins and the Nashville session musician Ray Edenton. The song was an immediate hit, and established the brothers as the first successful pop act to come out of Nashville. Don and Phil bought a new Oldsmobile on the proceeds and embarked on a tour with Johnny Cash. They began sporting matching suits, and their growing army of fans had difficulty telling them apart (Don’s hair was darker, and his the deeper voice).
They followed this success in the same year with Wake Up Little Susie; This Little Girl of Mine; All I Have to Do Is Dream; and Claudette. Bird Dog and Devoted to You were released in 1958, and by now they were one of the most famous pop acts in the United States, as well known as Elvis Presley, Pat Boone and Ricky Nelson. They became close to Buddy Holly, who originally wrote his song Not Fade Away for The Everly Brothers they suggested that he record it himself.
After the release of Let It Be Me in 1959, the Everlys moved to Warner Bros Records. Cathy’s Clown, written by Don, remained at No 1 in America for five weeks in 1959 and topped the British charts for seven, selling more than eight million copies worldwide. On the back of its success Cadence delved into its archive to release When Will I Be Loved, which reached No 8 in the US and No 4 in Britain.
If the Everlys’ star burned bright, it also burned quickly, thanks to rapidly changing musical tastes in the Sixties. Indeed, by 1960 their best days were already behind them although in Britain that year they achieved three No 1s, with Walk Right Back, Ebony Eyes and Temptation.
In 1961 Phil and Don joined the Marines, serving for about six months, and then embarked on a European tour. It was while they were performing in London that Don’s addiction to amphetamines first began seriously to affect his career. Twice in 12 hours he was carted off to hospital, unconscious, and he was flown back to the United States, amid stories in the press that he had been struck down by food poisoning or a nervous breakdown. Phil had to finish the tour alone.
For three years the Everlys performed together only occasionally, although they continued to record, and their singles The Price of Love and Love Is Strange were successful in Britain. In 1968, with young music fans listening to bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and the West Coast acid rock fraternity, the Everlys came up with a concept album in which their own country music would be intercut with excerpts from old Everly Family radio shows from the early Fifties. The album, Roots, was a flop. Their deal with Warner Bros came to an end, and they signed with RCA, recording the albums Stories We Could Tell (1972) and Pass the Chicken and Listen (1973).
By now their relationship had become increasingly difficult, and on July 14 1973, when in concert at the John Wayne Theatre in Buena Park, California, Phil smashed his guitar and left the stage, leaving Don to announce the duo’s evident break-up. It was the start of a long estrangement. In 1981 Phil Everly said: “Although people looked at us like twins, we weren’t alike. Musically we were very closely educated, but we had different values. Everyone has the feeling that all you have to do is to achieve stardom and once you are there you can relax. It’s just the opposite. Once you get there, then the war really starts [and] the larger the odds are against you. We always had that feeling, will the next song be a success?”
At the same time he conceded that Don had been the more talented of the two: “His hands and ear for music are faster.”
For a decade they worked apart, making solo recordings. Phil released his first solo record, Star Spangled Banner, in 1973, to modest acclaim, and followed up with Phil’s Diner (1974) and Mystic Line (1975). He wrote Don’t Say You Don’t Love Me No More for the hit Clint Eastwood film Every Which Way But Loose (1978), performing it in duet with Eastwood’s co-star, Sondra Locke. He also wrote One Too Many Women In Your Life for the sequel, Any Which Way You Can (1980), in which he also made a cameo appearance.
In 1983 he released the solo album Phil Everly. The track She Means Nothing To Me, on which Cliff Richard was co-lead vocalist, reached the Top 10 in Britain. In June of the same year The Everly Brothers were reunited on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London. They recorded for Mercury in Nashville, and continued to perform well into the new millennium. They were admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and in 1997 received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. They were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
Phil Everly was thrice married and had two sons, Jason and Chris, both singers and songwriters. He married his third wife, Patti Arnold, in 1999.
Date of Birth: 3 September 1932, Los Angeles, US
Birth Name: Verla Eileen Regina Brennan
Nicknames: Eileen Brennan
Eileen Brennan, the American actress was best known for her role as the tough-talking Army captain Doreen Lewis in the 1980 film comedy Private Benjamin, in which she starred alongside Goldie Hawn.
As tormentor-in-chief to Goldie Hawn’s high society recruit, Eileen Brennan earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress, and when she reprised the role in a television sitcom adapted from the film, she won two further awards, an Emmy and a Golden Globe. Guest roles on such television shows as Murder, She Wrote; thirtysomething; Taxi; and Will & Grace (in which she played an over-the-top acting coach) earned her six more Emmy nominations.
On film she made a brief appearance as the crazy Cat Lady in the horror film Jeepers Creepers in 2001. Her last big screen appearance was in the 2011 comedy film Naked Run.
Her role in Private Benjamin led to a lasting friendship with Goldie Hawn. In 1982, a couple of years after they had made the film, the two women had dinner in Venice, California. As they left the restaurant, Eileen Brennan was struck by a car, in an accident which smashed her legs, broke bones on the left side of her face, and shattered her left eye socket. She later recalled seething with rage at what had happened: “I was no saint. I was angry, and anger is a powerful emotion. It increased my determination not to go under, to get well.”
She took three years off work to recover, but became addicted to painkillers, and eventually entered the Betty Ford clinic to cure her dependency. She later received treatment for breast cancer.
Ten years after the accident Eileen Brennan said she was glad she had been hit by the car. “You learn from powerful things,” she said in 1992. “Initially, there’s enormous anger, but your priorities get shifted around.”
The daughter of a doctor of Irish descent, Verla Eileen Regina Brennan was born on September 3 1932 in Los Angeles. Her mother had acted in silent films. Educated in convent schools, she went on to study at Georgetown University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
Her first major role on the New York stage was in Little Mary Sunshine, a musical that earned her the 1960 Obie award for best actress. In 1964 she played Irene Malloy in the original production of Hello, Dolly! on Broadway. In Hollywood the director Peter Bogdanovich cast her as a weary waitress who inherits the café where she works in The Last Picture Show (1971).
Her other films included The Sting (receiving excellent reviews as the brothel madam with a heart of gold); The Cheap Detective; Clue and Divorce American Style. On television her versatility led to appearances in All in the Family; McMillan & Wife; Kojak; The Love Boat; Mad About You; and 7th Heaven.
As well as being cast as the gruff Capt Doreen Lewis in Private Benjamin, Eileen Brennan applied her perfect sense of comic timing to several other sharp-tongued film roles including that of the aloof and world-weary Mrs Peacock in Clue (1985), and the cruel orphanage superintendent Miss Bannister in The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1988).
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.
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).
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).
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?"
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.
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.
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.
Date of Birth: 16 February 1918, Anglesey, Minnesota, US
Birth Name: Patricia Marie Andrews
Nicknames: Patty Andrews
Patty Andrews was the lead singer and soloist with the Andrews Sisters. The swinging American trio, comprising Patty and her older siblings, LaVerne and Maxene, achieved their greatest success in the 1940s, contributing to the war effort with catchy songs including Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me) and, with Bing Crosby, Don't Fence Me In.
The Andrews Sisters performed at military bases and raised money for war bonds; their hits were sung by the troops and by women working in factories. Patty, LaVerne and Maxene accompanied the most popular singers and big bands of the day; enjoyed success not just on radio but also in musical comedy films; and spawned a host of other sister acts not all of whom were real siblings.
Patricia Marie Andrews was born in Minnesota, the third daughter of a Greek immigrant, Peter (who had anglicised his surname), and his Norwegian wife, Olga. The parents ran a restaurant. Inspired by the success of the Boswell Sisters, the pretty, blonde Patty and her siblings began in vaudeville in the early 1930s. "There were just three girls in the family," she recalled. "LaVerne had a very low voice. Maxene's was kind of high, and I was between. It was like God had given us voices to fit our parts." The sisters toured America with the Larry Rich band and before long were starring at the Hotel Edison in New York with Leon Belasco.
The Andrews family relocated to New York in 1937 and the sisters were offered a recording contract by Decca. Things took a momentous turn when they recorded Bei Mir Bist Du Schön, Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin's revamped version of an old Yiddish standard. It reached No 1 in the US in 1938, establishing Cahn and Chaplin as ace songwriters and making the Andrews Sisters the hottest name in the record business. The song has now come to be emblematic of the age often used when a film or TV drama deals with the era of jitterbugs and evacuation, to say nothing of Land Girls, who sang it as they stacked the hay.
Further hits followed for the trio including Beer Barrel Polka and Hold Tight, Hold Tight (both 1939) and in 1940 they were signed by Universal Pictures and appeared in the film Argentine Nights with the Ritz Brothers. They then made two wartime comedies starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Buck Privates and In the Navy (both 1941), and also appeared in Private Buckaroo (1942), which followed new recruits doing their basic training and included the sisters' patriotic We've Got a Job to Do. The sisters appeared as themselves in the all-star film Hollywood Canteen (1944), about the ever-open cafe for American servicemen, founded by Bette Davis and John Garfield, and where Hollywood celebrities volunteered during the war. The sisters' voices were also featured in the Disney cartoon Make Mine Music in 1946.
After the success of the uptempo Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar and the sentimental ballad (I'll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time, the sisters accompanied Crosby on a No 1 hit, Don't Fence Me In, in 1944. It was one of several successful collaborations with the crooner, including Pistol Packin' Mama, Jingle Bells, Is You Is Or Is You Ain't (Ma Baby) and Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive. The sisters also appeared with him and Bob Hope in Road to Rio (1947). Danny Kaye partnered them on, among others, The Woody Woodpecker; and with Carmen Miranda, the trio sang Cuanto Le Gusta. By themselves, the sisters had number one hits with I Can Dream, Can't I? and I Wanna Be Loved.
In many ways Patty was the most successful member of the group. Certainly, her solos made her the most prominent sister. In the mid 1950s she broke away from the group, but people still wanted more of the Andrews Sisters and they were soon back together.
It was the death of LaVerne in 1967 that eventually broke up the group. In the early 70s Bette Midler had success with her recording of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and people once more went looking for the original, which had a renewed success. In 1974 Maxene and Patty were back in business, starring in a Broadway musical, Over Here!, about the group's wartime success. The show featured a third "borrowed" sister and ran for almost a year, closing after the sisters had an argument. Patty, who had solo success in Las Vegas and performed on cruise ships, continued to work after Maxene's death in 1995.
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.
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.
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.
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.