Victor Spinetti (born 2 September 1933) is a Welsh comic actor.
Spinetti was born in Cwm, Wales of Welsh and Italian heritage from a grandfather who is said to have walked from Italy to Wales to work as a coal miner. His parents, Giuseppe and Lily (nee Watson), owned the chip shop in Cwm, over which premises the family lived and Spinetti was born. He was educated at Monmouth School and the Cardiff College of Music and Drama, of which he is now a fellow. Early on he was a waiter and a factory worker.
Spinetti sprang to international prominence in three Beatles' films in the 1960s, A Hard Day's Night, Help! and Magical Mystery Tour. He also appeared on one of The Beatles' Christmas recordings. The best explanation for this long-running collaboration and friendship might have been provided by George Harrison, who said, "You've got to be in all our films ... if you're not in them me Mum won't come and see them—because she fancies you." But Harrison would also say, "You've got a lovely karma, Vic." Sir Paul McCartney described Spinetti as "the man who makes clouds disappear". Spinetti would later make a small appearance in the promotional video for Paul's song, 'London Town', off the 1978 album of the same name. Spinetti has appeared in more than 30 films, including Zeffirelli's The Taming of the Shrew, Under Milk Wood with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Becket, Voyage of the Damned, The Return of the Pink Panther, Under the Cherry Moon and The Krays.
Spinetti's work in Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop produced many memorable performances including Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be (1959, by Frank Norman, with music by Lionel Bart), and Oh! What a Lovely War (1963), which transferred to New York and for which he won a Tony Award for his main role as an obnoxious Drill Sergeant. He has appeared in the West End including Expresso Bongo, Candide, Cat Among the Pigeons, Felix in The Odd Couple, Windy City, his critically acclaimed one man show, A Very Private Diary, and recently in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. One of Spinetti's most challenging theatre roles was as the principal male character in Jane Arden's radical feminist play Vagina Rex and the Gas Oven which played to packed houses for six weeks at the Arts Lab on Drury Lane at the end of 1969. He has also appeared on Broadway in The Hostage and The Philanthropist.
He has also acted with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in such roles as Lord Foppington in The Relapse and the Archbishop in Richard III. In the 1970s Spinetti appeared in a series of television advertisements for McVities' (now United Biscuits) Jaffa Cakes, as "The Mad Jaffa Cake Eater", a Mexican bandit style character who sureptitiously stole and ate other people's Jaffa Cakes, prompting the catchprase "There's Orangey!"
Spinetti co-authored In His Own Write, the play with John Lennon which he also directed at the National Theatre, premiering on 18th June 1968, at the Old Vic. Spinetti and Lennon appeared together in June 1968 on BBC2's Release. During the interview, Spinetti said of the play, "it’s not really John’s childhood, it’s all of ours really, isn’t it John?" John Lennon, assuming a camp voice answered "It is, we’re all one Victor, we’re all one aren‘t we. I mean ‘what’s going on?'." Spinetti said the play "is about the growing up of any of us; the things that helped us to be more aware."
He also directed Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair, including productions staged in Europe. His many television appearances on British TV, include Take My Wife in which he played a London-based booking agent and schemer who was forever promising his comedian client that fame was just around the corner, and the sitcom An Actor's Life For Me. He hosted Victor's Party for Granada. Spinetti's poetry, notably Watchers Along the Mall, 1963, and prose, have appeared in various publications. His memoir, Victor Spinetti Up Front...: His Strictly Confidential Autobiography, published in September 2006, is filled with anecdotes of an astonishing life, including notoriously of Princess Margaret. In conversation with BBC Radio 2's Michael Ball, on his show broadcast on September 7 2008, Spinetti revealled that the Princess had been instrumental in securing the necessary censor permission for the first run of Oh! What A Lovely War.
A legendary raconteur and mimic, he says that Jane Fonda once asked him, "Victor, you play comedy and you play tragedy — how do you do both?" He replied, "Well, you have to listen." She said, "Pardon me?" His younger brother, Henry, is a noted drummer.
In September 2008 Spinetti reprises his one-man show, touring the UK, as "A Very Private Diary....Revisted!", tellng his life story.
^ Entertainer Spinetti to tour life story
Victor Spinetti at the Internet Broadway Database
Victor Spinetti at the Internet Movie Database
Stories, biography, filmography
v • d • e
Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
David Wayne (1947) · Myron McCormick (1950) · Russell Nype (1951) · Yul Brynner (1952) · Hiram Sherman (1953) · Harry Belafonte (1954) · Cyril Ritchard (1955) · Russ Brown (1956) · Sydney Chaplin (1957) · David Burns (1958) · Russell Nype (1959) · Tom Bosley (1960) · Dick Van Dyke (1961) · Charles Nelson Reilly (1962) · David Burns (1963) · Jack Cassidy (1964) · Victor Spinetti (1965) · Frankie Michaels (1966) · Joel Grey (1967) · Hiram Sherman (1968) · Ron Holgate (1969) · René Auberjonois (1970) · Keene Curtis (1971) · Larry Blyden (1972) · George S. Irving (1973) · Tommy Tune (1974) · Ted Ross (1975)
Complete list: (1947-1975) · (1976-2000) · (2001-present)
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Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Spinetti"
Categories: 1933 births | Living people | Theatre World Award winners | Tony Award winners | Welsh film actors | Welsh actors | Welsh people of Italian descent
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