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Victor Spinetti

Actor and director Spinetti dies

Published 19 June 2012

Welsh actor, writer and director Victor Spinetti has died at the age of 82 following a 16 month battle with prostate cancer.

Spinetti was a familiar face on the West End stage having appeared in productions of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Odd Couple, Cat Among The Pigeons, Windy City and Oh, What A Lovely War, which later transferred to Broadway and gained him a prestigious Tony Award.

His award-winning performance as the abhorrent Drill Sergeant in the Joan Littlewood Theatre Workshop production prompted his appearance in The Beatles’ 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night, and later Help! and Magical Mystery Tour.

As a director, Spinetti worked on productions of In His Own Write at the Old Vic, a project he co-wrote with John Lennon, The Biograph Girl at the Phoenix theatre, Deja Revue starring Shelia Hancock and musicals Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair in Europe.

On film, Spinetti starred alongside some of the biggest acting greats including Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in The Taming Of The Shrew and Under Milk Wood, Peter Sellers in The Return Of The Pink Panther, Faye Dunaway and Orson Welles in The Voyage Of The Damned and Prince in Under The Cherry Moon.

In addition to acting and directing, Spinetti also wrote, with credits including the one-man show A Very Private Diary, which he starred in at the Donmar Warehouse and on tour. In 2008, A Very Private Diary: Revisited toured the UK offering audiences an insight into the theatrical legend’s extensive and extraordinary career.

One of Britain’s best loved comic stars, Spinetti was described by Sir Paul McCartney as “the man who makes clouds disappear.”

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