Jon Pertwee Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (2)  | Trade Mark (5)  | Trivia (60)  | Personal Quotes (31)  | Salary (5)

Overview (5)

Born in Chelsea, London, England, UK
Died in Timber Lake, Connecticut, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameJohn Devon Roland Pertwee
Nickname The Tall Light Bulb
Height 6' 2½" (1.9 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Jon Pertwee is best known for his portrayal of the Third Doctor on the BBC's science-fiction television series Doctor Who (1963) from 1970 to 1974. He was also the first to play the role following the transition of BBC One from black and white to colour. His 60-year entertainment career included work in radio, films and cabaret. This was despite the inauspicious beginning of having been thrown out of drama school as a young man and told he had no future as an actor.

Jon Pertwee was born John (after the apostle and disciple) Devon (after the county) Roland (after his father) Pertwee (an Anglicised version of the true family name, Perthuis de Laillevault) on 7 July 1919 in the Chelsea area of London. He was the second son of famous playwright, painter and actor Roland Pertwee, and his actress wife Avice - his writer brother Michael Pertwee being three years his senior. The Pertwee family had a long connection with show business and the performing arts, and it was at Wellington House preparatory school in Westgate-On-Sea in Kent that Jon, as a small and rebellious child, was encouraged in that direction. Later, at Frensham Heights co-educational school, Jon had his first taste of "real" theatre with real women in the school stage productions of "Twelfth Night" and "Lady Princess Stream". In 1936 he auditioned for, and was accepted by, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). He was later kicked out for refusing to play the part of the wind in a play.

Jon Pertwee died on 20 May 1996 of a heart attack. The BBC announced his death. He was survived by his wife Ingeborg Rhoesa, his son Sean Pertwee, a popular and talented actor, and his daughter Dariel Pertwee, an accomplished stage actress.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Family (2)

Spouse Ingeborg Rhoesa (13 August 1960 - 20 May 1996)  (his death)  (2 children)
Jean Marsh (2 April 1955 - 8 August 1960)  (divorced)
Children Sean Pertwee

Trade Mark (5)

Gravelly authoritative voice
Thick mane of curly grey hair
Long, crooked nose
Multitude of comedic voices
Tall slender frame

Trivia (60)

He came from a very successful theatrical family. He was the son of Roland Pertwee, the younger brother of Michael Pertwee and the first cousin of Bill Pertwee. He was also the father of actor Sean Pertwee and actress Dariel Pertwee.
He was known as a comedy actor until he was cast in a dramatic and action role as the Third Doctor in Doctor Who (1963). Outgoing producer Peter Bryant cast him thinking that he could bring more comedy to the part than predecessor Patrick Troughton. However, on the advice of the Head of BBC Drama Shaun Sutton, Pertwee decided to play the part as himself.
Prior to his first appearance as the Doctor in Doctor Who (1963) in 1970, he was already a household name for his role in the long-lived and hugely popular BBC radio comedy series "The Navy Lark", where he played the role of Chief Petty Officer Pertwee (plus Vice-Admiral "Burbly" Burwasher, Commander Weatherby and The Master) from 1959 to 1977.
He changed his name from "John" to "Jon" as a young actor.
He was told several times when he was young that he would never become a successful actor, due to such problems as a partial lisp and a close resemblance to the American actor Danny Kaye - whom he would actually double in the London location work for Knock on Wood (1954).
He knew legendary thespian Laurence Olivier personally when he was a young man because he was a family friend.
His closest friend in later life was the broadcaster David Jacobs.
The 60 year old actor added pop star to his repertoire in 1980 when 'Worzel's Song' reached the top 33 in the UK and stayed in the chart for seven weeks.
On learning of the departure of Patrick Troughton from Doctor Who (1963) in 1969, his friend and "Navy Lark" colleague Tenniel Evans recommended to him that he should put his name forward for it. Pertwee didn't think he would be wanted for it but took Evans' advice anyway. He then found out to his surprise that he was the producer Peter Bryant's second choice to play the Doctor after Ron Moody, who turned it down.
Pertwee was considered for the role of Captain Mainwaring in the BBC sitcom Dad's Army (1968), which eventually went to Arthur Lowe. He claimed that he refused it as he was working on Broadway at the time, and didn't know what he was being offered back home. In We're Doomed! The Dad's Army Story (2015), Pertwee turns down the role because he's not being offered enough money.
He played Lycus in the original stage production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966). The film role was given to the American Phil Silvers since he had greater name-recognition internationally.
He worked hard to bring the character of Worzel Gummidge (1979) to the television screen and counted it as his favourite role. He had been offered the part in the mid-70s for a film version which was never made and persuaded the writers Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse to pen a TV pilot instead. Pertwee was very disappointed that the series ended when Southern Television lost its franchise and no other company picked it up. He also hoped that it would become big in America, which it never did.
His experience of serving in the British Navy during the Second World War inspired him to conceive the popular BBC radio comedy "Navy Lark, The". He was a star of the series for many years and provided the voices for many of the diverse characters.
During WW2 he served in the RNVR as an officer. He was appointed to HMS Hood from which he was extremely fortunate to be returned to shore shortly before that vessel was sunk by the Bismarck.
He was a friend of the osteopath Stephen Ward, a key figure in the John Profumo political scandal in the UK in the early 1960s. Although Ward's reputation was destroyed by the scandal and he committed suicide, Pertwee defended his friend's reputation until his dying day. Ward was the subject of the film Scandal (1989) and a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Following the instructions in his will, he was cremated with an effigy of the bumbling scarecrow Worzel Gummidge (Worzel Gummidge (1979), his favorite role), attached to his casket. As the casket slid between the curtains, the effigy fell off and landed on the floor, leading one mourner to call out, "That's Jon for you. Always playing it for laughs". The mourners all broke into laughter.
He was a talented water-skier and had a passion for fast cars and motorbikes. He carried on riding his last bike, a Honda VT500E, until he was 74, two years before his death.
He died in his sleep of a heart attack while he and his wife were on holiday in the USA, staying with actor Richard Neilson and his wife at their house in Timber Lake, Connecticut.
He appeared once on BBC television's team quiz show Quiz Ball (1966) as a last-minute substitute for comedian Jimmy Logan, and found himself playing for Scotland. They won.
He was originally meant to star in The Baby and the Battleship (1956) with George Cole but was replaced when Cole walked out.
According to Pertwee's biography, "Moon Boot and Dinner Suits", as a young boy he played with the son of the gamekeeper on the family estate. The gamekeeper was A.A. Milne, and his son was Christopher, the inspiration for Milne's later tales of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh.
He was a lifelong fan of cartoons.
He became close friends with his Doctor Who (1963) co-stars Nicholas Courtney, Roger Delgado and Katy Manning. Delgado's death in 1973 hit him very badly and it was a contributory factor to his decision to leave the series in 1974.
He was the oldest living Doctor from the death of William Hartnell on April 23, 1975 and the earliest living Doctor from the death of Patrick Troughton on March 28, 1987 until his own death on May 20, 1996. With his death, Tom Baker became both the oldest and earliest living Doctor. He is the second longest-lived actor to have played the Doctor in Doctor Who (1963). He was surpassed in this regard by his immediate successor, Tom Baker, on December 5, 2010, who became the first Doctor to reach the age of 77 on January 20, 2011.
Like Patrick Troughton, his predecessor as the Doctor, he died of a heart attack while visiting the United States.
He was a very good friend of Spike Milligan, but later on in his life the two would have arguments over who was the bigger Aladdin (1992) fan. He also considered Milligan's Goon colleague, Peter Sellers, a friend.
He considered Aladdin (1992) to be the greatest animated film of all time, as well as one of the greatest films of all time.
He had a reputation as a great raconteur, comedian and impressionist, making him a popular guest on talk shows, game shows and at Doctor Who (1963) conventions. He was also the only actor to play the Doctor in the TV series to be interviewed on the original run of the BBC's most celebrated talk show, Parkinson (1971), although his appearance on the series was in 1980, six years after he left the role. Parkinson did eventually interview another TV Doctor, David Tennant, in 2007.
His favorite aliens in Doctor Who (1963) were the Draconians from the 1973 story Doctor Who: Frontier in Space: Episode One (1973). In particular, he liked the quality of the half-masks that were designed for them by John Friedlander, which allowed for more expressive performances from the actors than was often able to be the case with full face masks. Pertwee was known to dislike the series' most popular monsters, the Daleks, which he described as "silly" despite starring in three serials with them. Pertwee's Third Doctor was the only incarnation during the original series' run never to encounter the Cybermen during his tenure, although he later had a scene with them when he returned in Doctor Who: The Five Doctors (1983).
Of the 24 Doctor Who (1963) stories he starred in, he named Doctor Who: The Dæmons: Episode One (1971) as his favorite.
He was delighted when his wife passed him the message that he had been invited to appear in "the new Columbus film" and that the script was being sent over. He would wryly recall that his hopes of working with Gérard Depardieu in 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) were quickly dashed when he received the script of Carry on Columbus (1992).
His final screen appearance was in a Doctor Who (1963)-inspired advertisement for Vodaphone in 1996, shot a week before his death.
He was the original choice for the role of Elliot Hoover in Audrey Rose (1977).
He was a founder member, along with his brother Michael Pertwee, of The Waistcoat Club (of which he had a large collection, some dating back 300 years) which was set up in 1953 to counter the drabness of men's dress. Peter Cushing, who would play the film version of the Doctor in Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965), was a fellow member.
He loved action films. His trademark fight scenes and martial arts as the Doctor (explained in the series as Venusian Aikido) were added because of this. Unfortunately, because of his bad back, the stuntman Terry Walsh usually doubled for him in most moves. Walsh was also the regular stuntman for his successor, Tom Baker, and doubled for the film star Michael Caine as well.
He was a top class Scuba Diver.
He suffered from vertigo for many years.
A rebellious youth, he was expelled from multiple private schools, including one for swinging a chain in a Tarzan imitation. He was also expelled from RADA (the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Arts) after refusing to play the wind in a production.
He served alongside James Bond author Ian Fleming in a special division of British Intelligence in World War II. Among others there was future British Prime Minister James Callaghan, who served tea. As a result, Pertwee is rumoured to have been one of the inspirations for James Bond alongside fellow actor Christopher Lee and Fleming's colleague, Sir William Stephenson.
Pertwee was very self-conscious about the size of his nose. As a result, Doctor Who (1963) script editor Terrance Dicks deliberately added a line to an episode of the series (Doctor Who: The Time Warrior: Part Three (1973)) in which the Doctor is described as "a longshank rascal with a mighty nose".
He owned a house in Spain in the mid 1960s.
He was considered for the roles of Dr. Hans Fallada, Dr. Armstrong and Sir Percy Heseltine in Lifeforce (1985).
He gave advice to David Jason when he was just starting his acting career, which Jason gratefully acknowledged in his autobiography.
He appeared in three films co-written by his elder brother Michael Pertwee: Trouble in the Air (1948), Ladies Who Do (1963) and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966).
His favourite song was "Georgia on My Mind" by Ray Charles.
He appeared in two comedy film set in ancient Rome: Carry on Cleo (1964) and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966).
He was approached to replace Roger Moore in the musical Aspects of Love. He declined.
He was greatly amused by the many ways his surname had been misspelled over the years.
The long running radio show 'The Navy Lark' made him a household name.
Having written his biography, 'Moon Boots and Dinner Suits' he later wrote a second 'I am the Doctor'.
On return from war service he became a skilled character actor in various radio series including 'Waterlogged Spa with Eric Barker. In the late 40's he joined Highbury Studios talent pool and struck up a lasting relationship with director Val Guest.
Doctor Who: The Movie (1996) included a dedication to his memory as it was broadcast just a week after his death.
The death of Roger Delgado and the departure of Katy Manning, both in 1973, dented his enthusiasm for playing the Doctor, although he did get on with new companion Elisabeth Sladen and was later reunited with her for the 20th anniversary special Doctor Who: The Five Doctors (1983).
A memorial service was held for him at St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden on 1st August 1996.
Had concerns about becoming typecast, as a result of the success he had with playing Doctor Who.
He was Steven Spielberg's choice for the role of Alfred Penyworth opposite Harrison Ford in the title role of an adaptation of the DC Comics character Batman that Spielberg had considered making. Jon's son Sean would later play the role of Alfred in Gotham (2014).
According to fellow Doctor Who actor Peter Davison, there was a mutual dislike between Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker whenever they were in the same room.
In the film 'Knock on Wood (1954) he doubled for Danny Kaye in the scenes shot in London.
He was always determined to remain as a character actor and not be a part of a team.
Suffered from chronic back pain, having no vertebra between his fifth and sixth lumbars. This is why, when required to lie in supine positions, he would arch a leg to alleviate the symptoms.

Personal Quotes (31)

[when advised to portray the Doctor in Doctor Who (1963) as himself by Shaun Sutton] Who's that?
I like the best of everything.
[on why he preferred Doctor Who (1963) stories set on contemporary Earth] There's nothing more alarming than coming home and finding a Yeti sitting on your loo in Tooting Bec.
[on playing it straight in Doctor Who (1963)] In all my years as an actor, I had never been me - I had always hidden behind my glasses, mustaches and funny voices.
I decided to leave [Doctor Who (1963)] because Roger [Roger Delgado] had died, Barry Letts was leaving, Terrance Dicks was leaving. I thought it looked like the end of an era and I thought, "Well, I may as well go". Shaun Sutton, the head of programmes, said, "Would you like to stay on and do another season?" And I said, "Yeah, yeah, I'll do one more if you pay me a bit of extra money". He said, "Like what?" I told him and they said, "We're sorry to see you go."
Tom Baker says he's the Doctor. You can't argue with Tom on that one, he did seven years and he always wins the polls.
Eddie Gray once said to me, "Don't worry, my son, take my advice, say the lines, take the money and go and buy something nice", which is the best advice I'd ever heard in my life.
I hate working in studios. That's why I adored doing Worzel Gummidge (1979), because we shot the whole thing on film, we were outside all the time.
In my opinion, Caroline John didn't fit into Doctor Who (1963). I couldn't really believe in her as a sidekick to the Doctor, because she was so darned intelligent herself. The Doctor didn't want a know-it-all by his side, he wanted someone who was busy learning about the world. Although Caroline and I worked well together, I don't think it did the series any harm when she left.
The tattoos were a little mistake from younger and more foolish days. I always thought it was quite amusing to have the Third Doctor, who was so preoccupied with being the archetypal gentleman, displaying a nice big piece of arm adornment - and nobody said anything when filming, so they were seen on screen. Perhaps people were frightened of offending me so early on in my time!
I was very fond of the Ogrons, who were wonderful, because they were so big, even I was terrified of them.
I was delighted to appear in The Five Doctors [Doctor Who: The Five Doctors (1983)] and I thought it was a great shame that Tom [Tom Baker] declined to take part. Of course, it would have been nicer to have had a bit more to do, but that was necessarily a problem, considering the amount of characters Terrance Dicks was trying to cram in. Generally, I thought I was done justice, and I told John Nathan-Turner then that I wouldn't mind coming back to do the odd special occasionally.
Somehow I seem to have been gently bypassed as a serious actor. Too long enjoying life and working in Light Entertainment perhaps.
[from "Radio Times" 3 January 1970] Small children and animals are every actor's nightmare - I have to cope with monsters.
I'm an actor playing Doctor Who. I'm often asked questions about what the Doctor thinks and I say: 'How the hell do I know?' I'm speaking somebody else's lines.
I think sci-fi always draws cult followers. You get these other people, the Trekkies, all over the world, who follow Star Trek (1966). There were only two series of this made [he was mistaken, there were three] and what you see now is endless repeats, but you still get these sci-fi nuts prepared to go anywhere for a convention.
[shortly before his death] At 76, I'm too old for all the stunts and the Venusian karate - I might find kicking somebody under the chin difficult nowadays.
[on Worzel Gummidge (1979)] It is an actor's dream because the man changes his mind and his head with monotonous regularity. So you go through all sorts of phases and characters, which appeals to me enormously.
[on Doctor Who (1963)] I like two things about it. I like the fun of doing it and I like the money.
I like working on stage because of the reaction. I like to play light comedy and hear the laughs.
In all my years as an actor, I had never been me - I had always hidden behind my glasses, mustaches and funny voices.
[on his spy work in WW2] I did all sorts. Teaching commandos how to use escapology equipment, compasses in brass buttons, secret maps in white cotton handkerchiefs, pipes you could smoke that also fired a .22 bullet. All sorts of incredible things.
[on being cast as The Doctor] When my agent approached the BBC and that long silence on the phone was over we were told that I was on their short list and had been ever since they wanted a replacement for Patrick Troughton.
Charles Laughton, the famous actor, said to me 'I understand you were thrown out of RADA.' I said 'Yes' and he said 'you're bound to do well, so was I'.
It never occurred to me that I could ever be remotely considered for the part of the Doctor. When Tenniel Evans, with whom I was playing in The Navy Lark, suggested I put myself up for the part, I thought it was an absurd idea. I was widely known as a radio and stage comedy actor and they would never take the suggestion seriously.
[concerning the inevitability of his career which he felt later on may have played against him] Because it was the family business, I never had to struggle to join it. I took it for granted, which is maybe why I've never taken it seriously enough.
I saw the Doctor as an interplanetary crusader and it was this dashing Pied Piper image that appealed to me. I could spread my cloak, take the Earth under my wing and say, 'It's all right now...I'll deal with this.'
Yes, I got thrown out of RADA, I'm afraid. I'd refused to be a wind. There was a lady who taught Greek dancing and Greek tragedy, and I just had to go 'Wooooo' and I thought it was terribly expensive for my poor father to pay for me to be a wind. So I rebelled, I refused to be a wind.
[on performing accents] I find it easy to imitate accents, but I can't copy people's voices. I have a set of gramophone records at home and if I'm required to learn an accent, I put them on. It takes me only about fifteen minutes to pick up the way of speaking.
[on joining the circus as a youth] I had to drive a converted Austin Seven on the Wall of Death, with a lion sitting strapped to a platform behind me. It was a very old lion so you had to kick it where it hurt to make it roar. Only the boss didn't want it roaring. "Folks'll see it ain't got no teeth!", he used to moan.
My idea of relaxation is riding a motorbike, a bit of water skiing, or a nice burn-up in the jet-boat. My wife thinks I'm demented.

Salary (5)

Doctor Who (1963) 650.00 pounds (a week)
Carry On Cleo (1964) £150
Carry on Cowboy (1965) £375
Carry on Screaming! (1966) £150
Adventures of a Plumber's Mate (1978) £250

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