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Sidney James Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Spouse (3)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (31)  | Personal Quotes (3)  | Salary (18)

Overview (5)

Born in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, South Africa
Died in Sunderland, Tyne-and-Wear, England, UK  (heart attack)
Birth NameSolomon Joel Cohen
Nickname King of Carry On
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (2)

The star of the Carry On series of films, Sid James originally came to prominence as sidekick to the ground breaking British comedy actor Tony Hancock, on both radio and then television. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa and named Solomon Joel Cohen, James arrived in England in 1946, second wife in tow, having served with the South African Army during World War 2. By now an aspiring actor, James claimed to have boxed in his youth, perhaps to explain his craggy features, but was certainly a well respected hairdresser in his native country. Known in the trade as "one take James", he became a very talented and professional actor, constantly in demand for small parts in British post-war cinema. In 1960 James debuted in the fourth of the Carry On films, taking the lead role in Carry on, Constable (1960) and went on to appear in a further 18 Carry On films as well as various stage and television spin-offs. Reputed not to have got on with Carry On co-star Kenneth Williams, the two often played adversaries on-screen, notably in the historical parodies Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968) and Don't Lose Your Head (1967). James however was respected and revered by almost everyone he worked with and contrary to popular myth, a true gentleman. An addiction to gambling played a large part in James' workaholic schedule and subsequent heart attack in 1967. He was soon back in action however, playing a hospital patient in Carry on Doctor (1967), able to spend most of the film in bed. He suffered a second and fatal heart attack on stage in Sunderland, England on April 26 1976, leaving behind 3 children and his third wife Valerie who had stuck by him despite his affair with Carry On co-star Barbara Windsor, saying, "He always came home to me".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: lyndseychris

As a small boy he performed with his parents in a music hall act but didn't take it seriously until much later. As a young man he had a variety of jobs, hairdresser,dance instructor, stevedore, coal heaver, and diamond polisher. In later life he would regale friends with tales of being a middleweight boxer pointing to his craggy features as evidence but there's no proof of this. During the war he served as a lieutenant in an anti tank regiment in the Middle East and also in an entertainment unit which fired his enthusiasm to go into show business. After the war he spent his service gratuity on travelling to England to try his luck. After the usual round of working in repertory companies his Cockney voice and breezy personality got him his first screen role as an East End band leader in 'It Always Rains on Sunday(1947). Other films followed while at the same time he was appearing in stage musicals such as Kiss Me Kate and Guys and Dolls, in which he played the lead in the West End. He achieved nation wide fame in the radio programme 'Hancock's Half Hour' ,as foil to Tony Hancock, which ran for 5 years, from 1956, on the radio before being transferred to television for a further three before the partnership broke up. Sid then went on to his own tv series 'Citizen James' and 'Bless This House'. He used to say that the best things in his career were Tony Hancock and the 'Carry on's'.His hard working and hard drinking lifestyle took it's toll with a massive heart attack in the mid sixties. He still hadn't fully recovered when he was in Carry on Doctor so played all his part lying in bed. In the 70's he took part in a highly successful tour of 'The Mating Game' in Australia where it broke all box office records and he was voted 'Best Actor' by the critics. Back in England he started a British tour of the production but on the first night at the Sunderland Empire he collapsed on stage and died on his way to the hospital

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tonyman 5

Spouse (3)

Valerie James (21 August 1952 - 26 April 1976) ( his death) ( 2 children)
Meg Williams (1943 - 17 August 1952) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
Berthe Sadie Delmont (12 August 1936 - 1940) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trade Mark (3)

The dirtiest laugh in film
Playing lecherous comedy characters
The adulterous characters he portrayed were inspired by events in his life.

Trivia (31)

Arrived in Britain on Dec 25th 1946, spending his army demob money on one-way tickets. Once described as "The man with a face like an unmade bed!". Voted (some time ago) to have the world's dirtiest laugh.
Career prior to acting was as a top ladies' hairdresser in South Africa.
Sid and Meg had a daughter Reine (named after Sid's mother)
Frequently remembered as a former boxer, but he never actually was! People got that impression that he had been a boxer from his craggy features and bulbous nose.
He is the father of Stephen James, a musician and sound technician who appeared on Fortran 5's debut album "Blues", in October 1991. The song "Bike" heavily sampled Sid's voice and distinctive laugh. Also, Sidney James' portrait appears on the album cover.
Collapsed and died on-stage of a heart attack while appearing in "The Mating Game" at the Empire Theatre, Sunderland.
Was the regular sidekick-cum-bête noir of Tony Hancock throughout the six series of the radio series "Hancock's Half Hour". Likewise, became Hancock's regular pal in the TV series Hancock's Half Hour (1956), until the final series when Hancock decided it was getting too much like a double act.
Sid was nicknamed "One take James" because he nearly always did it right first time. He was also earning the highest daily rate of any British character actor.
In late 1960s, he attended a showbusiness houseparty near the Thames and, according to a TV news bulletin, was the hero of the hour because fire broke out and Sid kept dashing back indoors to help others to safety. Apparently, the emergency services had to eventually restrain him from re-entering the fire.
Was infamous for using branded products in the Carry On films and advertising them. In one particular film he opened a cupboard to reveal a cupboard full of Johnny Walker Red Label Scotch Whisky.
Had an affair with "Carry On..." series star Barbara Windsor from 1973 until his death in 1976. Their life together is chronicled in the movie Cor, Blimey! (2000). Ms. Windsor is an advisor to the cast.
His daughter, Sue James, is a children's TV Producer. Her mother is Sid's third wife, Valerie.
Suffered a serious heart attack in 1967, and was therefore replaced by Phil Silvers as the star of Follow That Camel (1967).
His son, Steve James is a music producer. His mother is Sid's third wife, Valerie.
His best friends were his Carry On co-stars Patsy Rowlands and Peter Butterworth.
Was friends with Laurence Harvey until they worked on The Silent Enemy (1958) together. According to the book "A Biography Of Sid James", James was offered the role of Chief Petty Officer Thorpe on the recommendation of Harvey, but their friendship ended during the filming. He found Harvey to be "pompous and full of his own importance".
His grandson James Wichall is a Sound Engineer.
He received top-billing in 17 of the 19 "Carry On" films in which he appeared. Frankie Howerd had that honour in Carry on Doctor (1967) and Carry on Up the Jungle (1970).
He has two roles in common with Richard Burton: (1) Burton played Mark Antony in Cleopatra (1963) while James played him in Carry on Cleo (1964) and (2) Burton played King Henry VIII of England in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) while James played him in Carry on Henry VIII (1971). In both cases, James wore the costume which had originally been worn by Burton.
He died only one day after Carol Reed, who directed him in both A Kid for Two Farthings (1955) and Trapeze (1956).
Although he was 61 years when he played Dick Turpin in Carry on Dick (1974), Turpin was only 33 when he was hanged on April 7, 1739.
Was unable to appear in Carry on Behind (1975), as he was touring Australia for a theatrical production of The Mating Season.
Was supposed to play Sergeant Ernie Knocker in Follow That Camel (1967), but was busy with George and the Dragon (1966). Less than two weeks into the shooting schedule, he suffered a heart attack. The role went to Phil Silvers.
Was supposed to play Detective Sergeant Sidney Bung in Carry on Screaming! (1966), but was unavailable, being committed to being in the 'Babes in the Wood' pantomime at the London Palladium.. The role went to Harry H. Corbett.
Harold Pinter wanted him to play Max in "The Homecoming" and he was Lionel Bart's first choice to portray Fagin in "Oliver!". James also turned down the role of Archie Rice in a South African theatre version of "The Entertainer", saying, "I couldn't hope to come anywhere near Olivier's performance.".
The first time he headed a cast list as star of a film was Carry on, Constable (1960).
He had a famously antagonistic relationship with 'Carry On' co-star Kenneth Williams. Williams was particularly scathing and personal about James's acting ability (as revealed in his posthumously published diaries), while James found Williams's loud and attention-seeking behaviour annoying.
His pastimes were going to boxing matches and fishing.
He was considered for Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).
He was an inveterate and largely unsuccessful gambler, losing tens of thousands of pounds over his lifetime. His gambling addiction was such that he had an agreement with his agent, Michael Sullivan, under which his wife was not told how much he was being paid, so that a portion could be set aside for gambling.
His favourite Carry On film was Carry on Cowboy (1965).

Personal Quotes (3)

Comedy is hard work and I am not really a comedian ... I need funny people around me to get the best out of myself.
I didn't want to go to the States because I think there are too many blokes like me in the States.
Stardom is no perishin' use to me. If I had stardom people might get the idea that I was too expensive and stop offering me some of those small character parts that help the old bank balance.

Salary (18)

Carry on, Constable (1960) £2,500
Carry on Regardless (1961) £2,000
Carry on Cruising (1962) £4,000
Carry on Cabby (1963) £5,000
Carry on Cleo (1964) £5,000
Carry on Cowboy (1965) £5,000
Don't Lose Your Head (1967) £5,000
Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968) £4,500
Carry on Camping (1969) £5,000
Carry on Again Doctor (1969) £4,000
Carry on Up the Jungle (1970) £4,000
Carry on Loving (1970) £5,000
Carry on Henry (1971) £5,000
Carry on at Your Convenience (1971) £5,000
Carry on Matron (1972) £5,000
Carry on Abroad (1972) £3,500
Carry on Girls (1973) £5,000
Carry on Dick (1974) £5,000

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