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Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (16) | Personal Quotes (15)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 21 April 1923Hampstead, London, England, UK
Date of Death 16 January 2009Turville Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
Birth NameJohn Clifford Mortimer

Mini Bio (1)

John Mortimer is a prolific writer for the theatre, films (starting during World War II, when he wrote scripts for the Crown Film Unit), television and radio. He also writes fiction and was a trial attorney for more than 30 years. Arguably his most famous creation is Horace Rumpole, "barrister at law, 68 next birthday, Old Bailey hack, husband to Mrs Hilda Rumpole," the protagonist and narrator of dozens of stories. (The quotation comes from Rumpole and the Younger Generation.) On television, Leo McKern personified Rumpole for the better part of two decades.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: RK

Spouse (2)

Penelope Mortimer (1972 - 16 January 2009) (his death) (2 children)
Penelope Mortimer (1949 - 1972) (divorced) (2 children)

Trivia (16)

Father of Sally Silverman and Jeremy Mortimer with his first wife, and Emily Mortimer and Rosie Mortimer with his second wife.
Father-in-law of Alessandro Nivola
Became an Associate Member of RADA.
He has described himself as a "champagne socialist".
Represented actress Margaret Leighton in her divorce suit against Laurence Harvey.
On the later Rumpole DVDs he provides a brief introduction to each story, giving the viewer background and context for each story.
He was awarded the Knighthood of the British Empire in the 1998 Queen's Birthday Honors List for his services to Literature.
Successfully defended Oz magazine against charges of obscenity in 1971.
In September 2004 it was revealed that he had a second son, Ross Bentley, the result of a short affair with Wendy Craig.
Son of Clifford and Kathleen May Smith Mortimer.
He attended Brasenose College at Oxford University in Oxford, England.
He defended Wole Soyinka, fellow writer and Nobel Laureate, in Nigeria of criminal charges.
Was played by Simon Callow in the television movie, Performance: The Trials of Oz (1991).
In 1971 his play Bermondsey featured the first gay kiss seen on a West End stage (the actors were Denholm Elliott and Joss Ackland).
Had a son, Ross Bentley, in 1962, as a result of a brief affair with Wendy Craig.
Both his wives were called Penelope. The first - formerly Mrs. Penelope Dimont - was a well-known novelist and film critic and was five years his senior. The second, formerly Penelope Gollop, had a child by him before they married and was many years his junior.

Personal Quotes (15)

As the son of a divorce barrister, I was fed, raised, educated and clothed entirely on the proceeds of adultery. If people had remained faithful, I would never have been sent to Harrow.
[Speaking in 2006, on the prospect of his retiring] What else can I do? I can't play golf... Writing keeps me alive.
[on David Niven] He was a model of how people who are famous and who enjoy the terrific privilege of stardom or public acclaim should behave.
[on why he preferred defending murderers to handling divorce cases] Matrimonial clients hate each other so much and use their children to hurt each other in beastly ways. Murderers have usually killed the one person in the world that was bugging them and they're usually quite peaceful and agreeable.
No brilliance is require in law. Just common sense and relatively clean fingernails.
I was raised, educated and clothed almost entirely on the proceeds of cruelty, adultery and neglect.
Bryan Cowgill was a towering figure in what now seems to be a golden age of British television. He made Thames Television famous across the world for Benny Hill and Morecambe and Wise. He continued the Rumpole series and produced such popular dramas as Minder and The Bill. I owe him a great debt of gratitude. He suggested that I should write a serial about England since the Second World War, and what followed was Paradise Postponed, which traces recent political history and the rise of Thatcherism through the stories of various characters in an English village. He gave me as I believe he gave to all writers, every support and encouragement. Writers for television today can only wait and hope for another Bryan Cowgill.
Women are more realistic and open-minded than men, who tend to live in a world of wishful thinking, fantasy and make-believe. For that reason, I always welcomed women on juries.
The only advice I can give is to beseech you to treat children as equals. Don't patronise them or ignore them or treat them as if they were somehow disabled.
A writer not only has to write, he has to live in order to have something to write about. And of the two occupations, living is by far the hardest.
aking in a debate about pornography] A test of pornography was once adumbrated by the Supreme Court of the United States. It was called the Felix Principle. And it was adumbrated in the days when Mr Justice Frankfurter sat upon the court. And a pornographic book was then defined as something which gave Mr Justice Frankfurter an erection. [laughter] And it was noticed that as the years went by... [laughter and applause] and Mr Justice Frankfurter became older and less easily stimulated, the judgements of the Supreme Court became conspicuously more liberal.
It's difficult to know in these grey days when the left has become the right, what sort of political beliefs, if any, I could hand on to another generation which has so far shown a passionate lack of interest in the subject.
Changing the life that's been allocated to you, throwing in your hand and asking for a redeal, may require courage and determination.
Sport brings me out in a rash. I think it's awfully bad for people's characters. People's characters deteriorate as soon as they have anything to do with sport - they throw beer-cans at each other, they knee each other in the groin. Nobody knees each other in the groin at Covent Garden Opera House.
A life during which you've caused no offence would be as blandly unoffensive as death itself.

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