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John Le Mesurier

From Academic Kids

John Le Mesurier (April 5 1912November 15, 1983), born John Elton Halliley, was a British actor.

Born in Bedford, he began to study acting at the age of 21, using his mother's maiden name Le Mesurier as his stage name. He married June Melville in 1939, but they divorced in 1947. In 1952, he married comedienne Hattie Jacques, with whom he had two sons, Robin and Kim. When she left him for a younger man, Le Mesurier allowed the press to give him the blame for the break-up. His third wife was Joan Malin.

Le Mesurier appeared in over 100 films, including Private's Progress, I'm All Right Jack, Brothers in Law, Carlton Brown of the FO, and Our Man in Marrakesh. In Ben-Hur (1959) he has an uncredited cameo role as a doctor. He also appeared in most of Tony Hancock's films and many episodes of his television series. His final film was with Peter Sellers in The Fiendish Plot of Fu Manchu in 1980. In most of his performances, he presented an impression of good-natured vagueness, which acquaintances claim was close to his true personality.

Le Mesurier's most popular TV (and radio) role was as the upper-class Sergeant Wilson in Dad's Army from 1968 to 1977. He followed this with a memorable performance as Kim Philby in Dennis Potter's play Traitor.

From the mid-1960s until his death 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. The character lives on, voiced by other actors.

In 1975 he narrated Bod, an animated children's programme from the BBC about a boy named Bod, his aunt Flo and their friends and their rather strange adventures (like falling into a manhole and finding a giant strawberry).

On radio he reprised the role of Arthur Wilson in It Sticks Out Half a Mile, and played The Wise Old Bird in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1980) and Bilbo Baggins in the BBC's 1981 radio version of The Lord of the Rings (1981).

In private life, the actor was a heavy drinker. His self-penned obituary in The Times stated, that he had "conked out" and "missed his friends and family".

His autobiography. A Jobbing Actor, appeared posthumously in 1984.

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