Victor Spinetti dies aged 82

Michael Quinn
,

The actor, director and writer Victor Spinetti has died at the age of 82 from pancreatic cancer.

Born over a chip shop in Ebbw Vale to Italian-Welsh parents, he came to attention as part of Joan Littlewood’s pioneering Theatre Workshop, performing in Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be and Oh! What a Lovely War, transferring with the show to the West End and Broadway, where he won a Tony Award.

He became The Beatles’ actor-of-choice, appearing in their films A Hard Day’s Night and Help! and in the television-made Magical Mystery Tour, and later collaborated with John Lennon on a stage version of his books, which he directed at the National Theatre.

In a long career that took in the West End, television and film, he worked with Brendan Behan on the Broadway run of The Hostage, opposite Jack Klugman in The Odd Couple at the Queen’s Theatre, alongside Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Franco Zeffirelli’s The Taming of the Shrew, with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and in later years toured his own one-man show, A Very Private Diary.

He died earlier today, June 19, in a hospice in Monmouth.

A full obituary will appear in a future print edition of The Stage.

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The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, London. Photo: Noel Foster