Burt Kwouk OBE

The late British actor W. “Burt” Kwouk, OBE was born 18 July 1930 in Warrington, Cheshire. He was brought up in Shanghai until he was 17 years old, when his Chinese parents returned to England. He went to the United States to study and in 1953 graduated from Bowdoin College. The Kwouk family fortune had been lost in the 1949 revolution and in 1954 he came back to Britain, where a girlfriend “nagged me into acting”.

He appeared in numerous films and television programmes. One of Kwouk’s earliest film roles was in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958) where he played the leader of a prison revolt who later aids the main character in heroically leading orphans to safety. In 1968 he appeared in The Shoes of the Fisherman opposite Laurence Olivier and Anthony Quinn. Kwouk was also a stalwart of several ITC television TV series, such as Danger Man, The Saint and Man of the World. He co-starred in 12/13 episodes of The Sentimental Agent (1963). Kwouk appeared in three James Bond films. Including Goldfinger (1964) portraying played Mr. Ling, a Chinese expert in nuclear fission; in the spoof Casino Royale (1967) a general and in You Only Live Twice (1967) and a Japanese operative of Blofeld credited as Spectre 3.

He was most famous for playing Cato Fong, Inspector Clouseau’s manservant in the Pink Panther films, who was ordered to attack Clouseau when he least expected it in order to keep him alert, this would end up totally hilarious and caused absolute chaos. A reference to his appearances in several films with Peter Sellers including the opening scene of The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu alongside Peter Sellers, who says to him “your face is familiar.” (referencing Pink Panther). He also portrayed the honorable but misguided Major Yamauchi in the 1980’s British World War II drama series Tenko.

In 2000, he appeared in an episode of the western TV series Queen of Swords as Master Kiyomasa, an aged Japanese warrior-priest. Sung-Hi Lee played his female pupil, Kami. The episode was filmed at Texas Hollywood, Almeria, Spain. From 2001 to 2004 he provided voice-overs on the spoof Japanese betting show Banzai and subsequently appeared in adverts for the betting company, Bet365. From 2002 until 2010, he so had a regular role in the Last of the Summer Wine, as Entwistle. In 2010, he provided the voice of the CGI character Shen, a Chinese water dragon, for the groundbreaking BBC TV fantasy drama series Spirit Warriors. He sadly died 24 May 2016.

John Tenniel

English illustrator, graphic humourist, and political cartoonist Sir John Tenniel was born 28 February 1820 in Bayswater, West London, Tenniel had five siblings; two brothers and three sisters. One sister, Mary, was later to marry Thomas Goodwin Green, owner of the pottery that produced Cornishware. Tenniel was a quiet and introverted person, both as a boy and as an adult. In 1840, while practising fencing with his father, Tenniel received a serious eye wound from his father’s foil, which had accidentally lost its protective tip. Over the years Tenniel gradually lost sight in his right eye.

Tenniel became a student of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1842 and was admitted after making several copies of classical sculptures to provide the necessary admission portfolio. While Tenniel’s more formal training at the Royal Academy and at other institutions was beneficial in nurturing his artistic ambitions, it failed in Tenniel’s mind because he disagreed with the school’s teaching methods, resulting in Tenniel educating himself for his career. Tenniel studied classical sculptures through painting; but was frustrated that he was never taught how to draw. Tenniel would draw the classical statues at the London’s Townley Gallery, copied illustrations from books of costumes and armor in the British museum, and drew the animals from the zoo in Regent’s Park as well as the actors from the London theatres, which were drawn from the pits.It was in these studies that Tenniel learned to love detail; however, he became impatient with his work and was the happiest when he could draw from memory. Tenniel was blessed with a photographic memory, undermining his early training and seriously restricting his artistic ambitions. Tenniel also participated in an artists group, free from the rules of the academy which had previously stifled Tenniel.

In the mid-1840s Tenniel joined the Artist’s Society or Clipstone Street Life Academy. Tenniel’s first book illustration was for Samuel Carter Hall’s The Book of British Ballads. During 1842 various Government backed contests were also taking place in London, To combat the growing Germanic Nazarenes style and promote a truly national English school of art. Tenniel planned to enter the 1845 House of Lords competition for the chance to design the mural decoration of the new Palace of Westminster and submitted the cartoon, An Allegory of Justice, for which he received a £200 premium and a commission to paint a fresco in the Upper Waiting Hall (or Hall of Poets) in the House of Lords.

Tenniel began incorporating more detail in backgrounds and figures and started producing more precisely-designed illustrations which depicted specific moments of time, locale, and individual character instead of just generalized scenes. Tenniel also developed a new interest in human types, expressions, and individualized representation. This style probably stemmed from his earlier interest in caricature. In Tenniel’s first years on Punch he developed this caricaturist’s interest in the uniqueness of persons and things, giving anthropomorphic qualities to inanimate objects and buildings. He also began using vigorously hand-drawn hatching greatly intensifying darker areas

In 1850 he was invited by Mark Lemon to fill the position of joint cartoonist (with John Leech) on Punch. He had been selected on the strength of his recent illustrations to Aesop’s Fables. He contributed his first drawing in the initial letter appearing on p. 224, vol. xix. His first cartoon was Lord Jack the Giant Killer, which showed Lord John Russell assailing Cardinal WisemaIn 1861, Tenniel was offered a position at Punch, as political cartoonist; however, Tenniel still maintained some sense of decorum and restraint into the heated social and political issues of the day. John Tenniel’s satirical, often radical and at times vitriolic images of the world, remained a steadfast social commentary of the sweeping national, political and social reforms taking place. Tenniel’s work, was often scathing in it’s depiction of the issues of working class radicalism, labour, war, economy, and other national themes. Many of Tenniel’s political cartoons expressed strong hostility to Irish Nationalism, with Fenians depicted as monstrous, brutes, while “Hibernia”—the personification of Ireland—was depicted as a beautiful, helpless young girl threatened by these “monsters” and turning for protection to “her elder sister”, the powerful armoured Britannia. His drawing “An Unequal Match”, depicted a police officer fighting a criminal with only a ‘baton’ for protection, Tenniel’s work at Punch was often controversial and socially sensitive, amd expressed the voices of the British public. Tenniel contributed around 2,300 cartoons, innumerable minor drawings, many double-page cartoons for Punch’s Almanac and other special numbers, and 250 designs for Punch’s Pocket-books expressing theVictorian public’s mood for liberal social changes

Tenniel is also remembered for Illustrating Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Lewis Carroll originally illustrated Wonderland himself, but his artistic abilities were limited. Engraver Orlando Jewitt, who had worked for Carroll in 1859 and had reviewed Carroll’s drawings for Wonderland, suggested that he employ a professional illustrator. Carroll was a regular reader of Punch and was therefore familiar with Tenniel. So In 1865 Tenniel, illustrated the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. His style was rather disturbing and grotesque featuring dark atmospheric compositions of exaggerated fantasy creatures, often featuring animal heads on humans and the merging of beings with objects and this “grotesqueness” was one of the main reasons why Lewis Carroll wanted him to illustrate the Alice books.

In 1893 Tenniel was knighted for his public service by Queen Victoria. When he retired in January 1901, Tenniel was honoured with a farewell banquet at which AJ Balfour, then Leader of the House of Commons, presided. Sadly Tenniel died in 1914 at the age of 93 but many of his wonderfully imaginative drawings and political cartoons remain.

Stan Laurel

English comic actor, writer and film director Stan Laurel was born 16 June 1890 he is most famous for his role in the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. With his comedy partner Oliver Hardy he appeared in 107 short films, feature films and cameo roles. Laurel began his career in the British music hall, from where he took a number of his standard comic devices: the bowler hat, the deep comic gravity, and the nonsensical understatement. His performances polished his skills at pantomime and music hall sketches. Laurel was a member of “Fred Karno’s Army,” where he was Charlie Chaplin’s understudy.The two arrived in the US on the same ship from Britain with the Karno troupe. Laurel went into films in the US, with his acting career stretching between 1917 and 1951, and from “silents” to “talkies.” It included a starring role in the film The Music Box (1932).

Laurel signed with the Hal Roach studio, where he began directing films, including a 1926 production called Yes, Yes, Nanette. He intended to work primarily as a writer and director, but fate stepped in. In 1927, Oliver Hardy, another member of the Hal Roach Studios Comedy All Star players, was injured in a kitchen mishap, and Laurel was asked to return to acting. Laurel and Hardy began sharing the screen in Slipping Wives, Duck Soup (1927) and With Love and Hisses. The two became friends and their comic chemistry soon became obvious. Roach Studios’ supervising director Leo McCarey noticed the audience reaction to them and began teaming them, leading to the creation of the Laurel and Hardy series later that year.

Together, the two men began producing a huge body of short films, including The Battle of the Century, Should Married Men Go Home?, Two Tars, Be Big!, Big Business, and many others. Laurel and Hardy successfully made the transition to talking films with the short Unaccustomed As We Are in 1929. They also appeared in their first feature in one of the revue sequences of The Hollywood Revue of 1929, and the following year they appeared as the comic relief in a lavish all-colour (in Technicolor) musical feature, The Rogue Song. In 1931, their first starring feature, Pardon Us was released. They continued to make both features and shorts until 1935, including their 1932 three-reeler The Music Box, which won an Academy Award for Best Short Subject.

In 1941, Laurel and Hardy signed a contract at 20th Century Fox to make ten films over five months. During the war years, their work became more standardised and less successful, though The Bullfighters, and Jitterbugs did receive some praise. Laurel discovered he had diabetes, so he encouraged Hardy to make two films without him. In 1946, he divorced Virginia Ruth Rogers and married Ida Kitaeva Raphael. In 1947, Laurel returned to England when he and Hardy went on a six-week tour of the United Kingdom, and the duo were mobbed wherever they went. Laurel’s homecoming to Ulverston took place in May, and the duo were greeted by thousands of fans outside the Coronation Hall.

The tour included a Royal Command Performance for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in London and they spent the next seven years touring the UK and Europe. In 1950, Laurel and Hardy were invited to France to make a feature film. The film, a Franco-Italian co-production titled Atoll K, was a disaster. (The film was titled Utopia in the US and Robinson Crusoeland in the UK.) Both stars were noticeably ill during the filming. Upon returning to the US they spent most of their time recovering. In 1952, Laurel and Hardy toured Europe successfully, and they returned in 1953 for another tour of the continent. During this tour, Laurel fell ill and was unable to perform for several weeks. In May 1954, Hardy had a heart attack and cancelled the tour. In 1955, they were planning to do a television series, Laurel and Hardy’s Fabulous Fables, based on children’s stories. The plans were delayed after Laurel suffered a stroke on 25 April, from which he recovered. But as he was planning to get back to work, his partner Hardy had a massive stroke on 14 September 1956, which resulted in his being unable to return to acting.

In 1961, Stan Laurel was given a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award for his pioneering work in comedy. He had achieved his lifelong dream as a comedian and had been involved in nearly 190 films. He lived his final years in a small flat in the Oceana Apartments in Santa Monica, California. Jerry Lewis was among the numerous comedians to visit Laurel, who offered suggestions for Lewis’s production of The Bellboy (1960). Lewis paid tribute to Laurel by naming his main character Stanley in the film, and having Bill Richmond play a version of Laurel as well.Dick Van Dyke told a similar story. When he was just starting his career, he looked up Laurel’s phone number, called him, and then visited him at his home. Van Dyke played Laurel on “The Sam Pomerantz Scandals” episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Laurel was a heavy smoker until suddenly quitting around 1960. In January 1965, he underwent a series of x-rays for an infection on the roof of his mouth.He died on 23 February 1965, aged 74, four days after suffering a heart attack on 19 February Just minutes away from death, Laurel told his nurse he would not mind going skiing right at that very moment. Somewhat taken aback, the nurse replied that she was not aware that he was a skier. “I’m not,” said Laurel, “I’d rather be doing that than this!” A few minutes later the nurse looked in on him again and found that he had died quietly in his armchair. Silent screen comedian Buster Keaton also died of lung cancer one year later in February 1966. Dick Van Dyke, friend, protege and occasional impressionist of Laurel during his later years, gave the eulogy, reading A Prayer for Clowns. Laurel was cremated, and his ashes were interred in Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery.

Gene Wilder

The late, great American stage and screen comic actor, screenwriter, film director, and author Gene Wilder was born June 11 1933 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, He adopted “Gene Wilder” for his professional name at the age of 26, later explaining, “I had always liked Gene because of Thomas Wolfe’s character Eugene Gant in Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River. And I was always a great admirer of Thornton Wilder.”

Wilder first became interested in acting at age 8, when his mother was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and the doctor told him to “try and make her laugh.”At the age of 11, he saw his sister, who was studying acting, performing onstage, and he was enthralled by the experience. He asked her teacher if he could become his student, The day after Wilder turned 13, he called the teacher, who accepted him; Wilder studied with him for two years. His mother Jeanne Silberman sent him to Black-Foxe, a military institute in Hollywood, where he was bullied and sexually assaulted, After an unsuccessful short stay at Black-Foxe, Wilder returned home and became increasingly involved with the local theatre community. At age 15, he performed for the first time in front of a paying audience, as Balthasar (Romeo’s manservant) in a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Gene Wilder graduated from Washington High School in Milwaukee in 1951. Wilder then studied Communication and Theatre Arts at the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity.

Following his 1955 graduation from Iowa, he was accepted at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, England. After six months of studying fencing, Wilder became the first freshman to win the All-School Fencing Championship. he returned to the U.S., living with his sister and her family in Queens. Wilder enrolled at the HB Studiolm Wilder was drafted into the Army on September 10, 1956. At the end of recruit training, he was assigned to the medical corps and sent to Fort Sam Houston for training. wanting to stay near New York City to attend acting classes at the HB Studio, he chose to serve as paramedic in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Valley Forge Army Hospital, in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Sadly In November 1957, his mother died from ovarian cancer.

He was discharged from the army a year later and returned to New York and obtained A scholarship to the HB Studio. Wilder’s first professional acting job was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he played the Second Officer in Herbert Berghof’s production of Twelfth Night. He also served as a fencing choreographer. After three years of study with Berghof and Uta Hagen at the HB Studio, Charles Grodin told Wilder about Lee Strasberg’s method acting. Grodin persuaded him to leave the studio and begin studying with Strasberg in his private class.NSeveral months later, Wilder was accepted into the Actors Studio. After joining the Actors Studio, he slowly began to be noticed in the off-Broadway scene, thanks to performances in Sir Arnold Wesker’s Roots and in Graham Greene’s The Complaisant Lover, for which Wilder received the Clarence Derwent Award for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Nonfeatured Role.”

Wilder made his screen debut in the TV series Armstrong Circle Theatre in 1962. Although his first film role was portraying a hostage in the 1967 motion picture Bonnie and Clyde, Wilder’s first major role was as Leopold Bloom in the 1968 film The Producers for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. This was the first in a series of collaborations with writer/director Mel Brooks, including 1974’s Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, which Wilder co-wrote, garnering the pair an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Wilder is known for his portrayal of Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) and for his four films with Richard Pryor: Silver Streak (1976), Stir Crazy (1980), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989), and Another You (1991). Wilder directed and wrote several of his own films, including The Woman in Red (1984).

His third wife was actress Gilda Radner, with whom he starred in three films. Her death from ovarian cancer led to his active involvement in promoting cancer awareness and treatment, helping found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles and co-founding Gilda’s Club. After 2003 Wilder turned his attention to writing. He produced a memoir in 2005, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art; a collection of stories, What Is This Thing Called Love? (2010); and the novels My French Whore (2007), The Woman Who Wouldn’t (2008) and Something to Remember You By (2013). Gene wilder tragically passed away 26 August 2016 however he has left behind some memorable performances in many fantastic films.

Adam West

Most famous for playing Batman in the 1960 Television show, the American actor Adam West sadly passed away 9 June 2017. Adam West (William West Anderson) was born September 19, 1928 West in Walla Walla, Washington. His father was a farmer; his mother was an opera singer and concert pianist who was forced to abandon her own Hollywood dreams to care for her family. Following her example, West stated to his father as a youth that he intended after school to go to Hollywood. He moved to Seattle when he was 15 with his mother following his parents’ divorce. West attended Walla Walla High School during his freshman and sophomore years, and later enrolled in Lakeside School in Seattle. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in literature and a minor in psychology from Whitman College in Walla Walla, where he was a member of the Gamma Zeta Chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He also participated on the speech and debate team. Drafted into the United States Army, he served as an announcer on American Forces Network television. After his discharge, he worked as a milkman before moving to Hawaii to pursue television.

While in Hawaii, West was picked for a role as the sidekick on a children’s show called El Kini Popo Show, which featured a chimp. West later took over as star of the show. In 1959, West moved with his wife and two children to Hollywood, where he took the stage name Adam West. He appeared in the film The Young Philadelphians with Paul Newman, and guest-starred in a number of television Westerns Including Sugarfoot, Colt .45, and Lawman, in which West played the role of Doc Holliday, the frontier dentist and gunfighter. He portrayed Wild Bill Hickok in the episode “Westbound Stage” of the 1960 Western series Overland Trail, with William Bendix and Doug McClure. He guest-starred on the crime drama Johnny Midnight, as police sergeant Steve Nelson and also starred in the crime drama, The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor. He made a few guest appearances on the sitcom, The Real McCoys. In 1961, West appeared as a young, ambitious deputy who foolishly confronts a gunfighter named Clay Jackson, portrayed by Jock Mahoney, in the episode “The Man from Kansas” in the series Laramie and made two guest appearances on Perry Mason in 1961 first as small-town journalist Dan Southern in “The Case of the Barefaced Witness” then as folk singer Pete Norland in “The Case of the Bogus Books”. West starred in the Outer Limits episode “The Invisible Enemy” and made a brief appearance in the film Soldier in the Rain starring Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen. He also starred as Major Dan McCready, the ill-fated mission commander of ‘Mars Gravity Probe 1’ in the 1964 film Robinson Crusoe on Mars. He also appeared in the comedy Western The Outlaws Is Coming in 1965, the last feature film starring The Three Stooges. He played Christopher Rolf in the episode “Stopover” in The Rifleman,

In 1965 Producer William Dozier cast West as Bruce Wayne and his crime fighting superhero alter ego, Batman, in the television series Batman, which ran from 1966 to 1968; and included afeature-length film version. In his Batman character, West appeared in a public service announcement where he encouraged schoolchildren to heed then-President Lyndon B. Johnson’s call for them to buy U.S. Savings stamps, a children’s version of U.S. Savings bonds, to support the Vietnam War. In 1970, West was offered the role of James Bond by Cubby Broccoli for the film Diamonds Are Forever.

After Batman finished Adam West’s first post-Caped Crusader role was in the film The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1969) as a cynical tough guy named Johnny Cain. West also made personal appearances as Batman. However In 1974, when Ward and Craig reprised their Batman roles for a TV public-service announcement about equal pay for women, West was absent. Instead, Dick Gautier filled in as Batman. He also made a memorable appearance in the Memphis, Tennessee-based United States Wrestling Association to engage in a war of words with Jerry “The King” Lawler while wearing the cowl and a track suit. West subsequently appeared in the theatrical films The Marriage of a Young Stockbrocker (1971), The Curse of the Moon Child (1972), The Specialist (1975), Hooper (as himself; 1978), The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood (1980) and One Dark Night (1983 and appeared in such television films as The Eyes of Charles Sand (1972), Poor Devil (1973), Nevada Smith (1975), For the Love of It (1980) and I Take These Men (1983). He also did guest shots on the television series Maverick, Diagnosis: Murder, Love, American Style, Bonanza, The Big Valley, Night Gallery, Alias Smith and Jones, Mannix, Emergency!, Alice, Police Woman, Operation Petticoat, The American Girls, Vega$, Big Shamus Little Shamus, Laverne & Shirley, Bewitched, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, Zorro, The King of Queens and George Lopez. West also made several guest appearances as himself on Family Feud and In 1986, West starred in the comedy police series titled The Last Precinct.

West often reprised his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne, first in the short-lived animated series, The New Adventures of Batman, and in other shows such as The Batman/ Tarzan Adventure Hour, Tarzan and the Super 7, Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show, and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. In 1979, West once again donned the Batsuit for the live-action TV special Legends of the Superheroes. In 1985, DC Comics named West as one of the honorees in the company’s 50th-anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great for his work on the Batman series. West was considered to play Thomas Wayne in Tim Burton’s Batman. Originally, he wanted to play Batman. So far neither West nor Burt Ward (Robin, from the TV series) has appeared in any of the modern Batman films. West made an appearance in a 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series portraying Simon Trent, a washed-up actor who used to play a superhero in a TV series called The Gray Ghost and who now has difficulty finding work.

West later had a recurring role as the voice of Mayor Grange in the WB animated series The Batman. And also voiced as Batman in the animated short film Batman: New Times. He co-starred with Mark Hamill, who vocally portrayed The Joker and had originally played the role on Batman: The Animated Series. West also voiced Thomas Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s father, in an episode of the cartoon series Batman: The Brave and the Bold. He also voiced Batman’s prototype robot “Protobot”. West appeared as himself in the film Drop Dead Gorgeous and in several TV series, including NewsRadio, Murphy Brown, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, The Ben Stiller Show, and The Drew Carey Sho He also portrayed “Dr. Wayne” in the 1990 Zorro episode “The Wizard”. In 1991, he starred in the pilot episode of Lookwell, playing a has-been TV action hero who falsely believes he can solve mysteries in real life. In 1994, West played a non-comedic role as the father of Peter Weller’s character in The New Age. He played a washed-up superhero named Galloping Gazelle in the Goosebumps TV series episode “Attack of the Mutant”. In 1994, West, with Jeff Rovin, wrote his autobiography, Back to the Batcave and also appeared as a guest in the animated talk show Space Ghost Coast to Coast in an episode titled “Batmantis”, where he displayed his book. That episode was essentially a parody to his Batman TV series, where Zorak dressed himself as “Batmantis”, a praying mantis version of Batman.

In 1996, Adam West appeared in video cut scenes of the “Chaos Mystery” in the gambling simulation game Golden Nugget. In 2001, he played the super-villain Breathtaker in the TV series Black Scorpion. In 2003, West and Burt Ward starred in the TV movie Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, alongside Frank Gorshin, Julie Newmar, and Lee Meriwether. In 2005, West appeared in the show The King of Queens. West appears in the 2006 video for California band STEFY’s song “Chelsea” as “Judge Adam West”, presiding over the courtroom scene. In 2007, Adam West played an attorney for Benny on the show George Lopez, and starred as “The Boss” in the movie comedy Sexina: Popstar PI. In 2009, West played himself in the episode “Apollo, Apollo” of 30 Rock. In 2010, a Golden Palm Star was dedicated to him on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars And West also received the 2,468th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6764 Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Guinness Museum in Hollywood, California. He appeared in Pioneers of Television in the episode “Superheroes” and was the subject of the documentary Starring Adam West.West is among the interview subjects in Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, a three-hour documentary narrated by Liev Schreiber.

West has also done voice-over work for many cartoons including the American cartoon series Futurama (10.9, and American Dad and voiced himself, and the 1960s version of Batman, in the video game Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. In 2016, West guest-starred as himself on the 200th episode of The Big Bang Theory. West has also voiced The Simpsons, Futurama, Rugrats, The Critic, Histeria!, Kim Possible, Johnny Bravo, and even in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series called “Beware the Gray Ghost”, and has appeared onThe Fairly OddParents numerous timeS. Since 2000, West has made regular appearances on the animated series Family Guy, portraying Mayor Adam West, the lunatic mayor of Quahog, Rhode Island. He portrayed Uncle Art in the Disney Animation film Meet the Robinsons, and voicing the young Mermaid Man (along with Burt Ward, who voiced the young Barnacle Boy) in The SpongeBob SquarePants episode “Back to the Past” asThe Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy characters are sea parodies of both Batman and Robin, respectively.West also voiced General Carrington in the video game XIII, and has voiced other video games such as Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, Chicken Little: Ace in Action, Scooby Doo! Unmasked, and Goosebumps: Attack of the Mutant.

 

Rik Mayall

English comedian, writer and Actor Richard Michael “Rik” Mayall sadly died on 9 June 2014. He was described as a truly brilliant comedian with a unique stage presence whose “Fireball Comedy” and comic approach to sitcom had inspired a generation. born 7 March 1958 Mayall attended The King’s School, Worcester, After which went to the University of Manchester in 1976 to study drama, where he befriended his future comedy partner Ade Edmondson. There he also met Ben Elton, a fellow student, and Lise Mayer, with whom he later co-wrote The Young Ones. His comedy partnership with Adrian Edmondson, and over-the-top, energetic “post-punk” portrayal of characters, made him a pioneer of alternative comedy in the early 1980s. He appeared in numerous cult classic sitcoms, including The Young Ones, Blackadder, The New Statesman and Bottom, and on the big screen in the comedy films Drop Dead Fred and Guest House Paradiso.

Edmondson and Mayall gained their reputation at the Comedy Store, from 1980. Apart from performing in their double act, 20th Century Coyote, Mayall developed solo routines, using characters such as Kevin Turvey and a pompous anarchist poet named Rick. This led to Edmondson and Mayall, along with Comedy Store compere Alexei Sayle and other upcoming comedians, including Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, French and Saunders, Arnold Brown and Pete Richens, setting up their own comedy club called “The Comic Strip”. Mayall’s Kevin Turvey character gained a regular slot in A Kick Up the Eighties, first broadcast in 1981. He appeared as “Rest Home” Ricky in Richard O’Brien’s Shock Treatment, a sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He played Dentonvale’s resident attendant as the love interest to Nell Campbell’s Nurse Ansalong. There was also a mockumentary based on the character entitled Kevin Turvey – The Man Behind The Green Door, broadcast in 1982. He also appeared in a bit role in An American Werewolf in London. His stage partnership with Edmondson continued in”The Dangerous Brothers”, hapless daredevils whose hyper-violent antics foreshadowed their characters in Bottom. Channel 4 offered the Comic Strip group six short films, which became The Comic Strip Presents…, which became known for its anti-establishment humour and parodies suchas Bad News on Tour, a spoof “rockumentary” starring Mayall, Richardson, Edmondson and Planer as a heavy metal band.

The Young Ones, was a sitcom written by Mayall and then-girlfriend Lise Mayer, in the same anarchic vein as Comic Strip. Ben Elton joined the writers. In it Mayall played Rik, a pompous sociology student and Cliff Richard devotee. Despite the sitcom format, Mayall maintained his double-act with Edmondson, who starred as violent punk Vyvyan. Nigel Planer (as hippie Neil) and Christopher Ryan (as “Mike the cool person”) with additional material written and performed by Alexei Sayle. The show owed a comic debt to Spike Milligan. In 1986 Rik Mayall played the Detective in the video of “Peter Gunn” by Art Of Noise featuring Duane Eddy.

Mayall returned to stand-up comedy, performing on Saturday Live—a British version of the American Saturday Night Live—first broadcast in 1985. He and Edmondson had a regular section as “The Dangerous Brothers”, and in 1985, Mayall debuted another comic creation -Lord Flashheart in the Blackadder II episode entitled “Bells”. A descendant of this character, Squadron Commander Flashheart, was also in the Blackadder Goes Forth episode “Private Plane” in which he was reunited with Edmondson, who played German flying ace Baron von Richthofen the “Red Baron”, Mayall also appeared in Blackadder: Back & Forth as Robin Hood. In 1986, Mayall joined Planer, Edmondson and Elton to star as Richie Rich in Filthy Rich & Catflap, which highlighted the “has been” status of light entertainment. 1987 saw Mayall co-star with Edmondson in the ITV sitcom Hardwicke House and score a number one hit when he and his co-stars from The Young Ones teamed with Cliff Richard to record “Living Doll” for the inaugural Comic Relief campaign. Mayall played Rick one last time in the stage-show and supported the Comic Relief and also gave a memorably crazed portrayal in Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine.

In 1987, Mayall played fictional Conservative MP Alan Beresford B’Stard in the sitcom The New Statesman and, in 1989 Mayall starred in a series of bit shows for ITV called Grim Tales, in which he narrated Grimm Brothers fairy tales while puppets acted the stories. In 1991, Edmondson and Mayall co-starred in the West End production of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, with Mayall playing Vladimir, Edmondson as Estragon and Christopher Ryan as Lucky. This inspired Bottom, which they said was a cruder cousin to Waiting for Godot and featured slapstick violence taken to new extremes. In 1993, following the second series, Mayall and Edmondson decided to take a stage-show version of the series on a national tour, Bottom: Live.

In 1991 Mayall starred alongside Phoebe Cates in Drop Dead Fred as a troublesome imaginary friend who reappears from a woman’s childhood. He also appeared in Carry On Columbus (1992) with other alternative comedians and provided the voice of the character Froglip, the leader of the goblins, in the 1992 animated film adaption of the 1872 children’s tale The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald. In 1993, he appeared in Rik Mayall Presents, for which he won a Best Comedy Performer award at that year’s British Comedy Awards, He also provided the voice for Little Sod in Simon Brett’s How to Be a Little Sod. In the early 1990s, he auditioned for the roles of Banzai, Zazu and Timon in The Lion King (1994); but the role of Zazu finally went to Rowan Atkinson.

In 1995, Mayall featured in a production of the play Cell Mates alongside Stephen Fry. Not long into the run, Fry had a nervous breakdown and fled to Belgium, Edmondson later poked fun at the event during the stage tours. Bottom Live: The Big Number Two Tour, And Bottom Live 2003: Weapons Grade Y-Fronts Tour. From 1999, Mayall was the voice of the black-headed seagull Kehaar, in the first and second series of the animated television programme, Watership Down.In 2000, Mayall lent his voice to the PlayStation and Windows PC video game Hogs of War and appeared in the video production of Jesus Christ Superstar as King Herod. In 2001 Mayall gave an excellent dramatic performance as Lt Daniel Blaney in the episode “The White Knight Stratagem” from the series “Murder Rooms: The Mysteries of the Real Sherlock Holmes.” In 2002, Mayall starred as Professor Adonis Cnut in the ITV sitcom, Believe Nothing. Following 2003’s Bottom: Live tour, Bottom 5: Weapons Grade Y-Fronts, Edmondson told the Daily Mail that he no longer wished to work on Bottom claiming they were “too old” to continue portraying the characters. Edmondson added that since Mayall had recovered from his coma, he was slower on the uptake and it had become more difficult to work with him, citing as well that due to taking medication Mayall had been advised to stop drinking alcohol. However, Edmondson said that the pair remained very close friends.

Mayall voiced Edwin in the BBC show Shoebox Zoo. In September 2005, he starred in a new series for ITV, All About George. In 2006, Mayall reprised the role of Alan B’Stard in the play The New Statesman 2006: Blair B’stard Project, In which B’Stard leaves the floundering Conservatives and become a Labour MP. In 2007, following a successful two-month run in London’s West End at the Trafalgar Studios, a heavily re-written version toured theatres nationwide, However, Mayall succumbed to chronic fatigue and flu in May 2007 and withdrew from the show. Alan B’Stard was played by his understudy, Mike Sherman during his hiatus.

Mayall was cast as the poltergeist Peeves in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone And Played Winston the Butler in the film Evil Calls: The Raven (2008). Mayall also provided the voice of the Andrex puppy in the UK Andrex TV commercials and narrated the UK Domestos adverts. He performed the voice of King Arthur in the children’s television cartoon series, King Arthur’s Disasters, alongside Matt Lucas from Little Britain who plays Merlin. In September 2009, Mayall played a supporting role in the British television programme Midsomer Murders, In April 2010, Motivation Records released Mayall’s England Football anthem “Noble England” for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which features an adapted speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V. In September 2010 he narrated an audio book, Cutey and the Sofaguard written by Christ Wade and In November 2010, Mayall provided narrative for five different characters for CDs accompanying children’s books published by Clickety Books. Then On 5 March 2011, Mayall appeared with Ade Edmonson on Let’s Dance For Comic Relief then In April 2011, Mayall again revived the character of Alan B’Stard to make an appearance in a satirical television advertisement for the No2AV campaign prior to the 2011 voting reform referendum in the UK. On 23 August 2012 the BBC announced that Edmondson and Mayall’s characters of Richie and Eddie returned in 2013 in Hooligan’s Island. In September 2012 Mayall starred in The Last Hurrah, and In November 2012, Mayall narrated several children’s books on the Me Books app, such as The Getaway and Banana! by children’s illustrator and author Ed Vere. In October 2013 he also appeared in Channel 4 sitcom Man Down,

Peter Sallis

English actor Peter Sallis, OBE Sadly died 2 June 2017. Sallis was born on 1 February 1921 in Twickenham, Middleseafter attending Minchenden Grammar School in Southgate, North London, Sallis went to work in a bank, working on shipping transactions. After the outbreak of the Second World War he joined the RAF. He failed to get into aircrew because he had a serum albumin disorder and he was told he might black out at high altitudes. He became a wireless mechanic instead and went on to teach radio procedures at RAF Cranwell.

Sallis started as an amateur actor during his four years with the RAF when one of his students offered him the lead in an amateur production. Following this He decided to become an actor and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, making his first professional appearance on the London stage in 1946. Sallis married Elaine Usher at St John’s Wood Church in London on 9 February 1957; Their son, Timothy Crispian Sallis, was born in 1959.

Sallis worked on the London stage in the 1950s and 1960s. His credits include the first West End production of Cabaret opposite Judi Dench in 1968. He also appeared in many British films of the 1960s and 1970s including Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Doctor in Love, The Curse of the Werewolf, The V.I.P.s, Charlie Bubbles, Scream and Scream Again, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Wuthering Heights, The Incredible Sarah and Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?. Additionally in 1968, he was cast as the well-intentioned Coker in a BBC Radio production of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids.

His first notable television role was as Samuel Pepys in the BBC serial of the same name in 1958. In 1961, he appeared as Gordon in the “Find and Destroy” episode of Danger Man and appeared in the Doctor Who story “The Ice Warriors” in 1967, playing renegade scientist Elric Penley; and in 1983 was due to play the role of Striker in another Doctor Who story, “Enlightenment”. He was Doctor Watson to Fritz Weaver’s Sherlock Holmes in the Broadway musical Baker Street in 1965. He introduced what the critics considered the show’s best musical number, “A Married Man”. In 1970, he was cast in the BBC comedy series The Culture Vultures portraying stuffy Professor George Hobbs to Leslie Phillips’s laid-back rogue Dr Michael Cunningham.

In 1971 Sallis appeared alongside Roger Moore and Tony Curtis in an episode of The Persuaders! entitled “The Long Goodbye” as David Piper, a former clerk in a company who was elevated to a substantially higher position and salary as his reward for installing an explosive device in an aeroplane that killed its pilot. The pilot was a noted scientist whose research would have been detrimental to the company that employed Piper. In 1973 he played a priest in the TV film Frankenstein: The True Story, and the following year he played Mr Bonteen in the BBC period drama The Pallisers. Between 1976 and 1978 he appeared in the children’s series The Ghosts of Motley Hall, in which he played Arnold Gudgin, an estate agent who did not want to see the hall fall into the wrong hands. In 1977 he played Rodney Gloss in the BBC series Murder Most English.

Sallis was cast in a one-off pilot for Comedy Playhouse entitled “The Last of the Summer Wine” (retrospectively titled “Of Funerals and Fish”; 1973), as the unobtrusive Norman Clegg. Subsequently The BBC commissioned a series. Last of the Summer Wine was created and written by Roy Clarke and the first series of episodes followed on 12 November 1973. From 1983 to 2010, Alan J. W. Bell produced and directed all episodes of the show. Last of the Summer Wine was set and filmed in and around Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, England, and centred on a trio of old men and their youthful misadventures; the membership of the trio changed several times over the years. The original trio consisted of Bill Owen as the mischievous and impulsive Compo Simmonite, Peter Sallis as easy-going everyman Norman Clegg, and Michael Bates as uptight and arrogant Cyril Blamire. When Bates dropped out due to illness in 1976 after two series, the role of the third man of the trio was filled in various years up to the 30th series by the quirky war veteran Walter “Foggy” Dewhurst (Brian Wilde), who had two lengthy stints in the series, the eccentric inventor Seymour Utterthwaite (Michael Aldridge), and former police officer Herbert “Truly of The Yard” Truelove (Frank Thornton). The men never seem to grow up, and they develop a unique perspective on their equally eccentric fellow townspeople through their stunts. Although in its early years the series generally revolved around the exploits of the main trio, with occasional interaction with a few recurring characters, over time the cast grew to include a variety of supporting characters and in later years the cast grew . Each of these recurring characters contributed their own running jokes and subplots to the show and often becoming reluctantly involved in the schemes of the trio, or having parallel storylines.

After the death of Owen in 1999, Compo was replaced at various times by his real-life son, Tom Owen, as equally unhygienic Tom Simmonite, Keith Clifford as Billy Hardcastle, a man who thought of himself as a descendant of Robin Hood, and Brian Murphy as Young-at-heart Alvin Smedley. Due to the age of the main cast, a new trio was formed during the 30th series featuring somewhat younger actors, and this format was used for the final two instalments of the show. This group consisted of Russ Abbot as a former milkman who fancied himself a secret agent, Luther “Hobbo” Hobdyke, Burt Kwouk as the electrical repairman, “Electrical” Entwistle, and Murphy as Alvin Smedley. Sallis and Thornton, both past members of the trio, continued in supporting roles alongside the new actors.

Last of the Summer Wine was praised for its positive portrayal of older people and family-friendly humour. Many members of the Royal Family enjoyed the show. The programme was nominated for numerous awards and won the National Television Award for Most Popular Comedy Programme in 1999. There were twenty-one Christmas specials, three television films and a documentary film about the series. Last of the Summer Wine inspired other adaptations, including a television prequel,several books and stage adaptations. Sallis played the role of Clegg from 1973 to 2010, and was the only cast member to appear in every episode. In 1988 he appeared as Clegg’s father in First of the Summer Wine, a prequel to Last of the Summer Wine set in 1939.

The final episode of the series was broadcast In 2010. Tom Owen criticised the BBC for not permitting a special final episode. Roy Clarke, however, stated that he was fully aware this was the last series, and preferred the show to have a quiet ending. The final line was said by Peter Sallis, the longest serving actor.Since its original release, all thirty-one series—including the pilot and all Christmas specials—have been released on DVD. Repeats of the show are broadcast in the UK on Gold, Yesterday, and Drama. It is also seen in more than twenty-five countries,including various PBS stations in the United States and on VisionTV in Canada. Last of the Summer Wine is the longest-running comedy programme in Britain and the longest-running sitcom in the world.

In 1978, Sallis also starred alongside comic actor David Roper in the ITV sitcom Leave it to Charlie as Charlie’s pessimistic boss and also portrayed ghost hunter Milton Guest in the children’s paranormal drama series The Clifton House Mystery. In 1983, he was the narrator on Rocky Hollow, a show produced by Bumper Films, who later produced Fireman Sam. Between 1984 and 1989, he alternated with Ian Carmichael as the voice of Rat in the British television series The Wind in the Willows, based on the book by Kenneth Grahame and produced by Cosgrove Hall Films. Alongside him were Michael Hordern as Badger, David Jason as Toad and Richard Pearson as Mole. The series was animated in stop motion, prefiguring his work with Aardman Animations. He appeared in the last episode of Rumpole of the Bailey in 1992 and he later starred alongside Brenda Blethyn, Kevin Whately and Anna Massey in the 2004 one-off ITV1 drama Belonging.

Sallis achieved great success in 1989, when he voiced Wallace, the eccentric inventor, in Aardman Animations’ Wallace and Gromit: A Grand Day Out. This film won a BAFTA award and was followed by the Oscar-winning films The Wrong Trousers in 1993 and A Close Shave in 1995. Though the characters were temporarily retired in 1996, Sallis has returned to voice Wallace in several short films and in the Oscar-winning 2005 motion picture Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, for which he won an Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production. In 2008, Sallis voiced a new Wallace and Gromit adventure, A Matter of Loaf and Death. Most recently, in 2010 he provided the voice for Wallace in the TV show Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention. After Sallis retired from the role, he passed the voice of Wallace to Ben Whitehead. Sallis was awarded the OBE in the 2007 Birthday Honours for services to Drama. On 17 May 2009 he appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs.

Sallis retired from acting, in 2010 and had not appeared nor voiced on film or television since. Sallis died peacefully, with his family by his side, at the Denville Hall nursing home in Northwood, London, on 2 June 2017, aged 96 and will be sadly missed.