SID JAMES (born SOLOMON JOEL COHEN; 8 May 1913 – 26 April 1976) was a South African-born British character actor and comedy actor.
Appearing in British films from 1947, he was cast in numerous small
and supporting roles into the 1960s. His profile was raised as Tony
Hancock 's co-star in Hancock\'s Half Hour , first in the radio series
and later when it was adapted for television and ran from 1956 to
1960. Afterwards, he became known as a regular performer in the Carry
On films, appearing in nineteen films of the series, with the top
billing role in 17 (in the other two he was cast below Frankie Howerd
). Meanwhile, his starring roles in television sitcoms continued for
the rest of his life. He starred alongside
Remembered for a lascivious persona in the Carry On films, with the Snopes website describing him as "the grand old man of dirty laughter", he became known for his amiability in his later television work. Bruce Forsyth described him as "a natural at being natural".
On 26 April 1976, while touring in The Mating Season, James suffered
a heart attack while performing on stage at the Sunderland Empire
Theatre ; he died in hospital an hour later. Some, including comedian
* 1 Early life
* 2 Career
* 2.1 From 1947 to 1964 * 2.2 Carry On films * 2.3 Later career
* 3 Death * 4 Tributes * 5 Personal life * 6 Filmography * 7 References * 8 Further reading * 9 External links
James was born Solomon Joel Cohen, on 8 May 1913, to Jewish parents,
in South Africa , later changing his name to Sidney Joel Cohen, and
then SIDNEY JAMES. His family lived on Hancock Street in
It was at a hairdressing salon in
Orange Free State
Second World War
FROM 1947 TO 1964
James made his first credited film appearances in Night Beat and
Black Memory (1947), both crime dramas. He played the alcoholic hero's
His first major comedy role was in
The Lavender Hill Mob
In 1954, he had begun working with
Feeling the format had become exhausted, Hancock decided to end his
professional relationship with James at the end of the sixth
television series in 1960. Although the two men remained friends,
James was upset at his colleague's decision. Galton and Simpson
continued to write for both men for a while, and the Sidney Balmoral
James character resurfaced in the
Citizen James (1960–1962) series.
CARRY ON FILMS
James became a leading member of the Carry On films team, originally to replace Ted Ray , who had appeared in Carry On Teacher (1959). It had been intended that Ray would become a recurring presence in the Carry On series, but he was dropped after just one film because of contractual problems. James ultimately made 19 Carry On films, receiving top-billing in 17, making him one of the most featured performers of the regular cast.
The characters he portrayed in the films were usually very similar to
the wise-cracking, sly, lecherous Cockney he was famed for playing on
television, and in most cases they bore the name Sid or Sidney,
including, for example, Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond in Carry On Up the
Khyber . His trademark "dirty laugh" was often used and became, along
with a world-weary "Cor, blimey!", his catchphrase. His laugh can be
heard here . (Similarly, other regular members of the Carry On cast
abbreviated their real first names in the films:
Bernard Bresslaw was
There were Carry On films in which James played characters who were
not called Sid or Sidney:
Carry On Constable
The cast make valiant attempts to maintain American accents, with the most convincing belonging to—surprisingly—Sid James, who made no attempt to disguise his accent in any other film, either before or after this one.
In 1967, James was intending to play Sergeant Nocker in Follow That
Camel , but was already committed to recording the TV series George
and the Dragon (1966–1968) for ATV , then one of the ITV
contractors. James was replaced in
Follow That Camel
Meanwhile, his success in TV situation comedy continued with the series Two in Clover (1969–70), and Bless This House (1971–1976) as Sid Abbott, a successful enough series in its day to spawn its own film version in 1972.
On 26 April 1976, while on a revival tour of The Mating Season, a 1969 farce by the Northern Irish playwright Sam Cree , James suffered a heart attack on stage at the Sunderland Empire Theatre . Actress Olga Lowe thought that he was playing a practical joke at first when he failed to reply to her dialogue. When he failed to reply to her ad libs, she moved towards the wings to seek help. The technical manager (Melvyn James) called for the curtain to close and requested a doctor, while the audience (unaware of what was happening) laughed, believing the events to be part of the show. He was taken to hospital by ambulance, but died about an hour later; he was 62.
James was cremated and his ashes were scattered at Golders Green Crematorium .
James has been the subject of at least five tribute shows: a 1996 one-off tribute, The Very Best of Sid James; as the focus of a 2000 episode of the series The Unforgettable ; a 2002 episode of Heroes of Comedy ; Channel Four's With Out Walls, Seriously Seeking Sid in the late 1980s; and in 2013, the BBC's The Many Faces Of Sid James.
James married three times. He and his first wife divorced in 1940, mainly as a result of his many relationships with other women; it was a pattern which continued throughout his life. In 1943, he married a dancer, Meg Sergei, née Williams (born 1913). Five years later they had a daughter, Reina , before divorcing on 17 August 1952.
On 21 August 1952, James married Valerie Elizabeth Patsy Assan (born
1928), an actress who used Ashton as her stage name. In 1954, they had
a son, Steve James, who is now a music producer. During the latter
part of their marriage, they lived in a house partly designed by James
himself, called Delaford Park, situated in
James was an inveterate and largely unsuccessful gambler, losing tens of thousands of pounds over his lifetime. His gambling addiction was such that he had an agreement with his agent, Michael Sullivan, under which his wife was not told how much he was being paid, so that a portion could be set aside for gambling.
Main article: Sid James filmography
* ^ Roberts, Andy. "Beyond Carry On:Sid James\'s 20 best - and
weirdest - films". Telegraph.co.uk. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29
* ^ "Died Onstage". snopes.com. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
* ^ Forsyth, speaking on the TV programme Heroes of Comedy, 2001
* ^ "Theatre Stage An Old Haunt For Sid?" (newspaper). The Shields
Gazette. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
* ^ "Ghostly tale". Sunderland Echo. 28 July 2008. Retrieved 3 May
* ^ "The Classic Carry On Film Collection". DeAgostini. 2003.
* ^ also reported in a