Tuesday, 5 April 2011
John le Mesurier: Intensely Relaxed
The great comic actor John le Mesurier would have been 99 today, if he hadn't 'conked out' (in the words of his self-penned death notice) in 1983. I've always admired his languid, good-natured, bemused style since the Ealing comedy days (and I'm old enough to have seen many of them in the cinema when they came out) - and of course his Sergeant Wilson in Dad's Army was a classic performance. The wonderful thing is that, by all acocunts, his screen persona was pretty much the man himself - intensely relaxed, you might say, albeit with the aid of a heroic intake of alcohol and tobacco. When doctors took him off the drink, he very nearly died - picking up the bottle again gave him another seven years of pretty happy life. He had a good war, becoming a Captain in the Royal Tank Regiment, and his innate gentlemanliness extended to taking the blame for the break-up of his marriage to Hattie Jacques in order to protect her name. He also stoically put up with his third wife leaving him for Tony Hancock, then coming back a year later. Intensely relaxed indeed - and a true gentleman.