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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 18 June 1920Kingston-Upon-Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, UK
Date of Death 5 February 2010Esk Valley, North Yorkshire, England, UK
Birth NameIan Gillett Carmichael
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Unassuming, innocent-eyed and always ingratiating, Brit comedy actor Ian Carmichael was quite the popular chap in late 50s and early 60s film. He was born in Hull, Yorkshire, England on June 18, 1920, the son of Arthur Denholm Carmichael, an optician, and his wife Kate (Gillett). After receiving his schooling at Bromsgove High School and Scarborough College, he was accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and trained there, making his stage debut as a mute robot in "RUR". in 1939. That same year he also appeared as Claudius in "Julius Caesar" and was appearing a revue production of "Nine Sharp" (1940) when his young career was interrupted by WWII. He served in Europe for many years with the Royal Armoured Corps as a commissioned officer in the 22nd Dragoons.

Ian returned to the theatre in 1947 with roles in four productions: "She Wanted a Cream Front Door", "I Said to Myself", "Cupid and Mars" and "Out of the Frying Pan". He also sharpened his farcical skills in music hall revues where he worked with such revue legends as Hermione Baddeley and Dora Bryan. Given his first film bit as a waiter in Bond Street (1948), he continued in rather obscure roles for several years. While he was sincerely capable of playing it serious, which would include roles in the U.S. film Betrayed (1954) starring Clark Gable and Lana Turner, as well as the war-themed adventures The Colditz Story (1955) and Storm Over the Nile (1955), it was his association with late 50s "silly-ass" comedy that gave his cinematic career a noticeable boost. After repeating his stage success (the only cast member to do do) playing David Prentice in the film version of Simon and Laura (1955) opposite Kay Kendall and Peter Finch, he co-starred in a series of droll satires for the Boulting Brothers and Ealing Studios. While he might have been upstaged on occasion by a motley crew of scene-stealers (Terry-Thomas, Peter Sellers, Raymond Huntley, Margaret Rutherford), Ian was sublimely funny himself as the hapless klutz caught up in their shenanigans. Private's Progress (1956), the service comedy which got the whole ball rolling, and its sequel, I'm All Right Jack (1959), along with the Boulting's Lucky Jim (1957) Brothers in Law (1957) and Happy Is the Bride (1958) firmly established Ian as a slapstick movie star.

The inane fun continued into the 60s with ripe vehicles in Skywatch (1960), School for Scoundrels (1960), Double Bunk (1961), The Amorous Mr. Prawn (1962) and Heavens Above! (1963). During the late 1960s and 1970s, he found more fulfillment playing wry, bemused, uppercrust characters on comedy TV, particularly his Bertie Wooster in The World of Wooster (1965) which reunited him with frequent Boulting Brothers co-star Dennis Price as Jeeves, Wooster's chilly-mannered personal valet. Ian's leading role as the Bachelor Father (1970), based on the story of a real-life perennial bachelor who took on several foster children, only added to his popularity. In later years, he starred as TV's Lord Peter Wimsey in several BBC adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayers' mystery novels, and was frequently heard on the BBC radio.

Ian made vigilant returns to the comedy stage whenever possible in such lightweight vehicles as "The Tunnel of Love", "The Gazebo", "Critic's Choice", "Birds on the Wing", "Darling, I'm Home", "Springtime for Henry" and appeared in his last musical "I Do! I Do!" in 1968. Earlier, in 1965, he made his Broadway debut starring in "Boeing-Boeing", which lasted only a few weeks. A more successful revival of this show showed up on Broadway in 2008.

Semi-retired since the mid-1980s, Ian continued to show elderly spryness here and there on TV. To cap his career off, he was honored as an OBE in the 2003 Queen's Birthday Honours List. Made a widower after 40 years by his first wife Jean (Pym) McLean, he married novelist/radio producer Kate Fenton, who is over thirty years his junior, in 1992. He has two daughters, Lee and Sally, from his first marriage. In 1979, his autobiography, "Will the Real Ian Carmichael?...", was published.

A charmer to the end, he last (recurring) appearance on the TV series The Royal (2003) was in 2009. The actor died on February 7, 2010, following a month-long illness.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Kate Fenton (1992 - 5 February 2010) (his death)
Jean Pyman Maclean (1943 - 1983) (her death) (2 children)

Trivia (6)

He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2003 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to drama.
He is an Associate Member of RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) in London, England.
He was educated at Scarborough College and Bromsgrove School.
Was Chairman of The Lord's Taverners (1970-1971).
Had half of his finger chopped off by a tank door.
Whitby, North Yorkshire, England [April 2009]

Personal Quotes (2)

I think to have lived in New York for a whole year would have driven me out of my mind.
I adored film-studio life, both the work and the play. During the making of all my films for the Boultings, I think I came the nearest I have ever been to being a relaxed person.

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