John Le Mesurier

John Le Mesurier

Infobox actor
name = John Le Mesurier

imagesize = 180px
caption =
birthdate = birth date|1912|04|5|df=yes
birthplace = Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
deathdate = death date and age|1983|11|15|1912|04|5|df=yes
deathplace = Thanet, Kent, England
deathcause =
restingplace = Church of St. George the Martyr, Church Hill, Ramsgate
restingplace_coordinates =
residence = Ramsgate, Kent
nationality = British
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employer =
occupation = Comedy actor, film actor
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spouse = June Melville (1939–47)
Hattie Jacques (1949–65)
Joan Malin (1965–83)
partner =
children = Kim and Robin (by Jacques)
parents =
relatives =

website =
footnotes =

John Le Mesurier (born John Charles Elton Le Mesurier De Somerys Halliley; 5 April 1912 – 15 November 1983) was a BAFTA Award-winning English actor. He is most famous for his role as Sergeant Arthur Wilson on the popular 1970s BBC comedy "Dad's Army".


Le Mesurier was born in Chaucer Road, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England in 1912. [GRO Register of Births: JUN 1912 3b 519 BEDFORD - Halliley, John E Le M, mmn = Le Mesurier] , the son of a solicitor, Charles Elton Halliley and Amy Michelle Le Mesurier, who was from an ancient family from Alderney in the Channel Islands. Le Mesurier was educated at Sherborne School, and began to study acting at the age of 20, using his mother's maiden name (common in the Channel Islands) "Le Mesurier" (pronounced 'Le Measurer') as his stage name. He was commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment in 1941 and served in the UK and India in World War II, reaching the rank of captain.

Le Mesurier appeared in over 100 films, including "Private's Progress" (1956), "Brothers in Law" (1957), "Carlton-Browne of the F.O." (1959), "I'm All Right Jack" (1959), "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (1959), "Doctor in Love" (1960), "The Pure Hell of St Trinian's" (1960), "The Wrong Arm of the Law" (1963), "The Pink Panther" (1963), "Our Man in Marrakesh" (1966), "The Wrong Box" (1966), "The Italian Job" (1969), and "The Alf Garnett Saga" (1972). 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 Dr. 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 Arthur Wilson in "Dad's Army" from 1968 to 1977. He accepted that role after finding out Clive Dunn, with whom he had worked in the Players' Theatre, would be playing the part of Corporal Jones. He gave a memorable performance in Dennis Potter's play "Traitor" (1971) which won him a Society of Film and Television Arts "Best Television Actor" award. Following the success of "Dad's Army", Le Mesurier recorded several wartime songs as singles; "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square / Hometown" (the latter with Arthur Lowe) on the Warner label in 1975 and "There Ain't Much Change From A Pound These Days / After All These Years" with Clive Dunn on KA Records in 1982.

For nearly 20 years until his death in 1983, 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 continues, voiced by other actors.) In 1975, Le Mesurier narrated "Bod", an animated children's programme from the BBC. In the series, a boy named Bod, his aunt Flo, and their friends have rather strange adventures (like falling into a manhole and finding a giant strawberry). He portrayed Jacob Marley in a BBC television adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which starred Sir Michael Hordern as Scrooge.

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).

Elsewhere, Le Mesurier played a short but key character role in Granada TV's adaptation of "Brideshead Revisited" in 1981 and guest starred in episodes of the British comedy television series "The Goodies" and of "Doctor in the House".

Private life

Le Mesurier was married three times:-

#The actress June Melville (1939–1947)
#The comedienne Hattie Jacques (1949–1965); two sons Kim and Robin [GRO Register of Marriages: DEC 1949 5c 2328 KENSINGTON - John E. Le M. Halliley = Josephine E. Jacques]
#The actress Joan Malin (1965–1983)

When his second wife left him for a younger man, Le Mesurier allowed the press to give him the blame for the break-up. His best friend was the comedian Tony Hancock, a friendship which was tested by a difficult period early in his third marriage, when his third wife left him for Hancock, only to return a year later. All this was not known to the general public at the time. In private life, the actor was a heavy drinker.

Towards the end of "Dad's Army" Le Mesurier became seriously ill, and lost a great deal of weight. He died at Ramsgate from a stomach haemorrhage, (which was brought on by cirrhosis of the liver) on 15 November 1983, aged 71. [GRO Register of Deaths: DEC 1983 16 1890 THANET - John Le Mesurier, DoB = 5 Apr 1912] He is buried in the churchyard of the Church of St. George the Martyr, Church Hill, Ramsgate. His self-penned death notice in "The Times" stated that he had "conked out" and that he "misses his family and friends".

His last words before slipping into a coma were reportedly, "It's all been rather lovely".


*"Death in the Hand" (1948)
*"Escape from Broadmoor" (1948)
*"Mother Riley's New Venture" (1949)
*"A Matter of Murder" (1949)
*"Dark Interval" (1950)
*"The Small Miracle" (1951)
*"Blind Man's Bluff" (1952)
*"Mother Riley Meets the Vampire" (1952)
*"The Pleasure Garden" (1953)
*"The Drayton Case" (1953)
*"The Blue Parrot" (1953)
*"Black 13" (1953)
*"Dangerous Cargo" (1954)
*"Beautiful Stranger" (1954)
*"Stranger from Venus" (1954)
*"Police Dog" (1955)
*"Josephine and Men" (1955)
*"A Time to Kill" (1955)
*"Private's Progress" (1956)
*"The Battle of the River Plate" (1956)
*"The Baby and the Battleship" (1956)
*"Brothers in Law" (1957)
*"The Good Companions" (1957)
*"The Admirable Crichton" (1957)
*"These Dangerous Years" (1957)
*"High Flight" (1957)
*"Happy is the Bride" (1958)
*"Gideon's Day" (1958)
*"The Man Who Wouldn't Talk" (1958)
*"Law and Disorder" (1958)
*"Another Time, Another Place" (1958)
*"The Moonraker" (1958)
*"Blind Spot" (1958)
*"Blood of the Vampire" (1958)
*"Man with a Gun" (1958)
*"I was Monty's Double" (1958)
*"Our Man in Havana" (1959)
*"The Captain's Table" (1959)
*"Operation Amsterdam" (1959)
*"Ben-Hur" (1959)
*"The Lady Is a Square" (1959)
*"Jack the Ripper" (1959)
*"The Wreck of the Mary Deare" (1959)
*"Desert Mice" (1959)
*"Follow a Star" (1959)
*"Too Many Crooks" (1959)
*"Carlton-Browne of the F.O." (1959)
*"The Hound of the Baskervilles" (1959)
*"I'm All Right Jack" (1959)
*"School for Scoundrels" (1960)
*"The Day They Robbed the Bank of England" (1960)
*"Never Let Go" (1960)
*"Doctor in Love" (1960)
*"The Bulldog Breed" (1960)
*"The Pure Hell of St Trinian's" (1960)
*"A Touch of Larcenry" (1960)
*"Let's Get Married" (1960)
*"Dead Lucky" (1960)
*"On the Fiddle" (1961)
*"The Night We Got the Bird" (1961)
*"Five Golden Hours" (1961)
*"Mr. Topaze" (1961)
*"Don't Bother to Knock] " (1961)
*"Invasion Quartet" (1961)
*"The Rebel" (1961)
*"Very Important Person" (1961)
*"Waltz of the Toreadors" (1962)
*"Go to Blazes" (1962)
*"We Joined the Navy" (1962)
*"Hair of the Dog" (1962)
*"Only Two Can Play" (1962)
*"Village of Daughters" (1962)
*"Waltz of the Toreadors" (1962)
*"Mrs. Gibbons' Boys" (1962)
*"Jigsaw" (1962)
*"The Main Attraction" (1962)
*"The Punch and Judy Man" (1963)
*"The Wrong Arm of the Law" (1963)
*"The Mouse on the Moon" (1963)
*"In the Cool of the Day" (1963)
*"The Pink Panther" (1963)
*"The Moon-Spinners" (1964)
*"Hot Enough for June" (1964)
*"Never Put it in Writing" (1964)
*"War-Gods of the Deep" (1965)
*"Where the Spies Are" (1965)
*"The Early Bird" (1965)
*"Operation Crossbow" (1965)
*"Masquerade" (1965)
*"Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines" (1965)
*"The Liquidator" (1965)
*"The Sandwich Man" (1966)
*"Our Man in Marrakesh" (1966)
*"The Wrong Box" (1966)
*"Finders Keepers" (1966)
*"Eye of the Devil" (1966)
*"Vingt-cinquième heure, La" (1967)
*"Cuckoo Patrol" (1967)
*"Casino Royale" (1967)
*"Mister Ten Per Cent" (1967)
*"Salt and Pepper" (1968)
*"The Italian Job" (1969)
*"Midas Run" (1969)
*"The Magic Christian" (1969)
*"Doctor in Trouble" (1970)
*"On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" (1970)
*"Dad's Army" (1971)
*"Au Pair Girls" (1972)
*"The Alf Garnett Saga" (1972)
*"Confessions of a Window Cleaner" (1974)
*"Brief Encounter" (1974)
*"Three for All" (1975)
*"The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother" (1975)
*"Jabberwocky" (1977)
*"What's Up Nurse!" (1977)
*"Stand up, Virgin Soldiers" (1977)
*"Rosie Dixon - Night Nurse" (1978)
*"Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?" (1978)
*"Unidentified Flying Oddball", also titled "The Spaceman and King Arthur" (1979)
*"The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu" (1980)
*"Late Flowering Love" (1981)
*"The Passionate Pilgrim" (1984)


* autobiography: "A Jobbing Actor", appeared posthumously in 1984.

Television roles

External links

*Screenonline name|id=465317|name=John Le Mesurier
* [ John Le Mesurier biography] from the Tony Hancock web site.
* [ Audio of John Le Mesurier reading Bible stories for children] at Storynory

NAME = Le Mesurier, John
ALTERNATIVE NAMES = Halliley, John Charles Elton Le Mesurier De Somerys
SHORT DESCRIPTION = Comedy actor and film actor
DATE OF BIRTH = 1912-04-05
PLACE OF BIRTH = ENG - Bedford, Bedfordshire
DATE OF DEATH = 1983-11-15
PLACE OF DEATH = Ramsgate, Kent

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