15 November 2008

A great man

One of my favourite actors, John Le Mesurier, died on 15th November in 1983. John was born in Chaucer Road, Bedford in April 1912 (so he was a local Bedfordshire lad) and served as a Captain in the Royal Tank Regiment during the Second World War in UK and India.

One of his more enduring (and endearing roles) was as the upper-class Sergeant Arthur Wilson in Dad's Army from 1968 to 1977. He apparently accepted the part after finding out Clive Dunn, with whom he had worked in the Players' Theatre, would be playing the part of Corporal Jones.

For nearly 20 years until his death in 1983, he provided the original voice for the animated TV commercial character "Flour Grader Fred", a little man in a bowler hat who advertised Homepride Flour and related products. I had a plastic Fred for many years until it finally got thrown out in one move too many; it may well be a collectors item now.

In his private life, John was a heavy drinker and this led to him suffering a serious illness which affected his weight and co-incided with the ending of Dad's Army; though he still managed to do a small number of films including The Fiendish plot of Fu Manchu in 1980.

John died at Ramsgate from a stomach haemorrhage, (which was brought on by cirrhosis of the liver) on 15 November 1983, aged 71. and is buried in the churchyard of the Church of St. George the Martyr, Church Hill, Ramsgate.

His self-penned death notice in The Times stated that he had "conked out" and that he "misses his family and friends".

His last words before slipping into a coma were reportedly, "It's all been rather lovely".

I think his final words perfectly sums up his character and both Dad and I were sorry to hear that he had died. The coincidence was that John was 71 years old when he died, the same age as my Dad when he died in 2002.


Elaine said...

Lovely to get a reminder of that lovely man in Dad's Army, his best role.

Relax Max said...

I don't know him. Just another British actor unknown to Americans, name not recognized. Or so I thought. But your post prompted me to look him up, and when I saw his face pop up on Google...Pow!... instant recognition.

"The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu" with Peter Sellers. For goodness sake. Why that one? I don't know, I just liked it. Then, looking through his entire filmography, I found myself seeing more and more. And more.

For me, silly ones: "The Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machinges...". And (of course) "The Pink Panther."

My shallowness is probably obvious by now. And I think he had Peter Sellers in his corner, employment-wise. He could have done worse.

Thank you for making me see his face again.

dickiebo said...

When I was in the Met, I had many a drink with John at the Baron's Keep Club, in West Kensington, where I had met him whilst investigating a 'theft of a mink coat' from the club. He hated people trying to pronounce his name a la Francais, instead of (phonetically) mesh-urr-er. As in measure-ur. I found him to be a bit careful with his money! lol.

The W.O.W. factor said...

How interesting Sage! and I love his final words..and the inscription! ...(make note to self...Good idea for me!..when the time comes...
Hope you are having a great weekend Sage!
{{Many Hugs}}
going to get a fresh cuppa tea...and see where my fingers go next!
I've been meaning to ask...have you and SOH set a date yet??