Warren Mitchell

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Warren Misell
 anglis, krievs, ebrejs
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Warren Mitchell (born Warren Misell; 14 January 1926 – 14 November 2015) was an English actor. He was a BAFTA TV Award winner and twice an Olivier Award winner.

In the 1950s, Mitchell appeared on the radio programme Educating Archie and television's Hancock's Half Hour. In the 1960s, he rose to prominence in the role of bigoted cockney Alf Garnett in the BBC television sitcom Till Death Us Do Part (1965–75), created by Johnny Speight, which won him a Best TV Actor BAFTA in 1967. He reprised the role in the TV sequels Till Death... (ATV, 1981) and In Sickness and in Health (BBC, 1985–92), and in the films Till Death Us Do Part (1969) and The Alf Garnett Saga (1972). His other film appearances include Three Crooked Men (1958), Carry On Cleo (1964), The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), The Assassination Bureau (1969) and Norman Loves Rose (1982). He held both British and Australian citizenship and enjoyed considerable success in stage performances in both countries, winning Olivier Awards in 1979 for Death of a Salesman and 2004 for The Price.

Spouse: Constance M. Wake (m. 1951–2015, his death)

Children: 3

Early life

Mitchell was born in Stoke Newington, London. His father was a glass and china merchant. He was of Russian Jewish descent (originally surnamed "Misell") and described himself in an interview as an atheist, but also stated that he "enjoy[ed] being Jewish". He was interested in acting from an early age and attended the Gladys Gordon's Academy of Dramatic Arts in Walthamstow from the age of seven. He did well at Southgate County School (now Southgate School), a state grammar school based in Palmers Green, Middlesex. He then studied physical chemistry at University College, Oxford, for six months. There he met his contemporary, Richard Burton, and together they joined the Royal Air Force in 1944. He completed his navigator training in Canada just as World War II ended.


Richard Burton's description of the acting profession had convinced him that it would be better than completing his chemistry degree and so Mitchell attended RADA for two years, performing in the evening with London's Unity Theatre. After a short stint as a DJ on Radio Luxembourg, in 1951, Mitchell became a versatile professional actor with straight and comedy roles on stage, radio, film and television. His first broadcast was as a regular on the radio show Educating Archie, and this led to appearances in both the radio and television versions of Hancock's Half Hour. By the late '50s, he regularly appeared on television: as Sean Connery's trainer in boxing drama Requiem for a Heavyweight (1957), with Charlie Drake in the sitcom Drake's Progress (BBC, 1957) and a title role in Three 'Tough' Guys (ITV, 1957), in which he played a bungling criminal. He also appeared in several episodes of Armchair Theatre. During the first of these, Underground (1958), one of the lead actors died during the live performance. He also had roles in The Avengers in addition to many ITC drama series including: William Tell, The Four Just Men, Sir Francis Drake, Danger Man and as a recurrent guest in The Saint.

His cinema début was in Guy Hamilton's Manuela (1957), and he began a career of minor roles as sinister foreign agents, assisted by his premature baldness and facility with Eastern European accents. He appeared in The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone (José Quintero, 1961), Carry On Cleo (1964) and Help! (Richard Lester, 1965) and played leads in All the Way Up (James MacTaggart, 1970), The Chain (Jack Gold, 1984), The Dunera Boys (Ben Lewin, 1985) and Foreign Body (Ronald Neame, 1986).

In 1965, Mitchell was cast in the role for which he may be best known, as the bigoted cockney West Ham United supporter Alf Garnett in a play for the BBC Comedy Playhouse series, broadcast on 22 July 1965. This was the pilot edition of the long-running series Till Death Us Do Part, with Gretchen Franklin, Una Stubbs and Antony Booth. The part of Mum, played by Gretchen Franklin, was recast with Dandy Nichols in the role when the programme was commissioned as a series.

Mitchell's real life persona was different from Alf Garnett, being Jewish, and a staunch supporter of Tottenham Hotspur. The show ran from 1966 to 1975, in seven series, making a total of 53 30-minute episodes.

Mitchell had a long and distinguished career on stage and television. Other small screen roles included a 13 episode series, Men of Affairs with Brian Rix (ITV, 1973–74), based on the West End hit farce Don't Just Lie There, Say Something!. There were also performances in The Sweeney (Thames Television for ITV, 1978), Lovejoy (BBC), Waking the Dead (BBC), Kavanagh QC (Carlton Television for ITV, he played a concentration camp survivor in the episode Ancient History), as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (BBC, 1980) and Gormenghast. In 2001, he appeared in a Christmas Special episode of Last of the Summer Wine, "Potts in Pole Position".

On stage he received extensive critical acclaim for his performances as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (1979, after first being cast in the role by Stephen Barry at Perth's Playhouse); and Harold Pinter's The Caretaker at the National Theatre; and Pinter's The Homecoming at the London Comedy Theatre (1991) and Miller's The Price in the West End, also appearing in Visiting Mr. Green in 2007 and 2008.

Mitchell reprised the role of Alf Garnett in the films Till Death Us Do Part (1969) and The Alf Garnett Saga (1972), in the ATV series Till Death... (1981), and in the BBC series In Sickness and in Health (1985–92). He also reprised his role as Alf Garnett in 1983 in the television series The Main Attraction where comedians recreated their famous acts from their past in front of a live and television audience (similar to An Audience with... that began in 1976). In 1997 he played the role in An Audience with Alf Garnett. The same year, ITV aired a series of mini-episodes called A Word With Alf, featuring Alf and his friends. All the TV shows and both films were written by Johnny Speight. When Speight died in 1998, the series was cancelled at Mitchell's request.

At the age of 82 Mitchell was performing in the West End as a retired dry-cleaner in Jeff Baron's portrait of Jewish-American life Visiting Mr Green.


In 1976, his one-man show The Thoughts of Chairman Alf won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for best comedy in London's West End. In 1982, he received an Australian Film Institute Award for best supporting actor in the film Norman Loves Rose. He has received two Laurence Olivier Theatre Awards—for playing Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (National Theatre, 1979) and as best supporting actor in a 2003 performance of The Price, also by Miller.

Personal life and death

Mitchell was a patron of the British Humanist Association. He had been married since 1951 to Connie (Constance M. Wake), an actress who appeared in early 1960s television dramas such as Maigret. For over twenty years, Mitchell suffered pain from nerve damage, caused by transverse myelitis, and was a supporter of the Neuropathy Trust. He suffered a mild stroke in August 2004. He was back onstage a week later, reprising his lauded role as a cantankerous old Jew in Arthur Miller's The Price.

Mitchell died, in the early hours of 14 November 2015, after long period of illness. He is survived by his wife Connie and their three children: Rebecca, Daniel and Anna.

Avoti: wikipedia.org

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