Edit
Joan Sims Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Trivia (63)  | Personal Quotes (19)  | Salary (25)

Overview (5)

Born in Laindon, Essex, England, UK
Died in Chelsea, London, England, UK  (diverticular disease and liver failure)
Birth NameIrene Joan Marion Sims
Nicknames Joanie
Queen of Puddings
The First Lady of Carry On
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (2)

The First Lady of Carry On, was born Irene Joan Marion Sims on 9 May 1930. The daughter of an Essex railway station master, Joan was interested in pursuing show-business, and soon became a familiar face in a growing number of amateur productions. In 1946, Joan first applied to RADA, her audition was unsuccessful. She did succeed in being admitted to PARADA, the academy's preparatory school, and finally, on her fourth attempt, Joan graduated and trained at RADA. Joan graduated from RADA in 1950 at the age of nineteen.

A cameo appearance in Doctor in the House (1954) as the sexually repressed Nurse Rigor Mortis led to Joan being first spotted by Peter Rogers; Rogers' wife Betty E. Box was the producer of the Doctor series, in which Joan herself became a regular.

A few years later, in 1958, Joan received another script from Peter Rogers, it was Carry On Nurse (1959). The film had been a huge success at the box office and in the autumn of that year Rogers and Gerald Thomas began planning a follow up. She went on to appear in 24 of the films, making her the longest serving female member of the team.

She first starred in the following three Carry On films: Carry On Teacher (1959), Carry On Constable (1960) and Carry On Regardless (1961), before taking a break from the next four films to concentrate on stage work. She rejoined the team with Carry On Cleo (1964) and remained all the way through to Carry On Emmannuelle (1978) in 1978.

Ironically, she was never proclaimed Queen of Carry On. This title went to saucy Barbara Windsor, even though she had only appeared in nine Carry On films.

One could argue that her final performances in the Carry On films were rather sentimental, as though she knew that the series was coming to an end and two scenes come to mind. The scene in which she plays cards with Peter Butterworth in Carry on Behind (1975) in his caravan late at night, and also in the laundrette where she dances with an early Carry Oner Victor Maddern in Carry On Emmannuelle (1978). Both of these are memorable sentimental film scene stealers.

With the end of the Carry On series in 1978, Joan went on to become a familiar face on TV screens, with ongoing roles in a number of highly successful sitcoms On the Up (1990) and As Time Goes By (1992) and the BBC's prestigious classic drama adaptations such as Martin Chuzzlewit (1994).

Joan's autobiography, High Spirits, was released in 2000. She complains in the last few pages of her book at the lack of information on her on the IMDB trivia page, something that was only significantly expanded after her death.

In her later years she became a cult figure and something of a British National Institution as the only surviving major Carry On star from early days. However, years of heavy drinking took their toll and she suffered in her later years with ill health. She was admitted to Hospital in Chelsea in London in mid 2001 and slipped into a coma. She died on 28 June 2001, with her lifelong friend and Carry On Norah Holland holding her hand.

Following her death, surviving Carry On stars celebrated her achievement in the Carry On films. Barbara Windsor, said at the time of her death, "To me she was the last of the great Carry Ons, she was there at the beginning. Her talent was wonderful, she could do any accent, dialect, she could dance, sing, play dowdy and glam. We laughed all the time and giggled a lot. I will sorely miss her." That quote is so true, throughout her whole Carry On career she alone stands apart as the most versatile actress in the whole series. She was never typecast in the films like the other actors and actresses.

Others also paid tribute, even ex-Government Cabinet Ministers. Her agent Richard Hatton said, "It's wonderful to be able to say that she really did have all the qualities that her many fans would have wished. A great sense of humour, a sympathetic and endearing personality, terrific talent and consideration for others.

"Over and above this, she discovered a new side of herself when she wrote her autobiography last year, which was untypical for the genre - honest, frank and intelligent. Everyone who knew her is going to remember her forever."

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bobby G

From an early age her great passion was performing, with the loading bays at her father's station making ideal stages. After training and graduating from RADA in April 1950 with the Mabel Temperley Prize for Grace and Charm of Movement she joined the Chorlton - Cum - Hardy Players playing small roles until landing the lead in 'Sarah Simple opposite Harry H .Corbett. Xmas 1951 found her in a new pantomime, 'The Happy Ha'penny' at the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre with Stanley Baxter and soon after landed her first television job voicing Millicent Mushroom, Barbara Beetroot and Oscar Onion for the children's show 'Vegetable Village'. Her first television appearance came in the series 'Colonel March Investigates' playing Boris Karloff's secretary, Marjorie Dawson, which led to her unoffical film debut when sections of the episodes were joined together into a feature length film. Her film debut proper came in 1953 in the comedy 'Will Any Gentleman?' with Sid James, Jon Pertwee and George Cole. By this time she had become a star of West End revue with 'Intimacy at Eight' and 'High Spirits' with Dilys Laye and Ian Carmichael at the London Hippodrome. In a revamped version of 'Intimacy at 8.40 she stole the show with her husky singing of the 'Siren Song' causing her to be personally chosen by Terry Thomas to support him in his 1953 radio hit 'Top of the Town. The following year came her first major film 'Doctor in the House' which, over the years, would lead to roles in four further Doctor films among many other comedies. On television she recaptured her stage stage triumphs in BBC's celebration of revue with 'Before the Fringe' (1967). played Eric's girlfriend in 'Sykes' and created the booze- addled Gran in 'Till Death Do Us Part' despite being over 20 years younger than her screen daughter Dandy Nichols. She was chosen to replace Betty Marsden in 'Round the Horne' but the death of Kenneth Horne caused the series to be centered around Kenneth Williams and retitled 'Stop Messin' About'. Her last stage appearance was as Fairy Sweetcorn in 'Jack and the Beanstalk' with Kenneth Connor and Suzanne Danielle at the Richmond Theatre in 1984/85 while her last television appearance was as Betty the pianist in 'The Last of the Blonde Bombshells' with Judi Dench.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tonyman 5

Trivia (63)

Claimed to have never married because the right person had not come along.
Had a short relationship with Hollywood star Tyrone Power.
For most of the "Carry On" movies she appeared in, she was only paid a fee of £2,500 per film.
During Upstairs and Downstairs (1959) she bruised her leg during a scene after falling over a suitcase. The pain got worse during the filming of Carry On Teacher (1959), she developed thrombo-phlebitis, and had her bad leg propped up on off-camera cushions during filming. The first-aid unit were not able to treat the condition and she was then hospitalised for 10 days causing filming to be rescheduled.
Won the £10 Mabel Temperley prize for grace and charm of movement while at RADA.
Her father was a station master, she spent much of her childhood entertaining passengers with impromptu stage routines on the station platform and befriending any poor soul who missed their train and became stranded there. Such diversions sparked an interest in pursuing showbusiness and Joan soon became a familiar face in a growing number of amateur productions.
In 1946, Joan first applied to RADA, but one of the adjudicators was not overly keen on her rendition from Winnie the Pooh.
Appeared in 24 Carry On films and was the longest serving female cast member of the Carry On team. Other long serving members were Sidney James; Kenneth Williams; Charles Hawtrey; Bernard Bresslaw; Patsy Rowlands; Hattie Jacques; Kenneth Connor; Jim Dale; Peter Butterworth; Barbara Windsor; and Terry Scott.
Slipped into a coma in the last weeks of her life while hospitalised at the Kensington and Chelsea Hospital in central London.
The roles of King and Queen of Spain in Carry on Columbus (1992) were originally offered to Sims and Frankie Howerd. The parts finally went to fellow Carry On stars June Whitfield and Leslie Phillips.
Joan Sims and Sidney James appeared in 17 Carry on films together. This is a record in movie history. Three were as husband and wife (Up the Khyber, Henry and Abroad) and three as the main 'love interest' (Camping, Loving and At your Convenience). They were dubbed First Lady and King of Carry On respectively.
The closing pages of her autobiography actually mentions her trivia page on IMDB. She complains that there is not much information, however following her death it was dramatically expanded.
Her ashes were scattered at Putney Vale Cemetery, London.
Good friend of the Two Ronnies, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett.
Lifelong friend of actress Norah Holland, who was also her stand-in in the Carry On films. Holland's appearance is obvious during Carry on Girls (1973).
A plaque dedicated to her memory was unveiled where she lived at Thackeray Street, Kensington, London in September 2002 by Barbara Windsor. She was joined by other stars of the classic Carry On film series including Liz Fraser. A celebratory lunch followed the unveiling which included other old friends, including John Inman.
Her first Carry On film was Carry On Nurse (1959) and her last was Carry On Emmannuelle (1978). She also appeared in The Ship Was Loaded (1957), however this film is not considered to be a part of the Carry On series.
Good friend of David Kernan. She went on holiday with him to the south of France after the filming of Carry on Abroad (1972).
Her favourite character that she played in the Carry On films was 'Belle Armitage' in Carry On Cowboy (1965).
Life-long friend of fellow "Carry On..." star Dilys Laye. Dilys and Joan first knew one another during childhood. They both remained close until Joan's death in 2001.
The only actress to appear in the only emotive scenes to be found in the "Carry On..." films. These scenes are unique as they did not rely on the usual innuendo or comedy. These scenes featuring her are found in Carry On at Your Convenience (1971) in which she discusses the morals of relationships and love with Sidney James [Filmed on 29 April 1971 as a night shoot, on location scene]; Carry on Behind (1975) with Peter Butterworth in which she discusses marriage and Carry On Emmannuelle (1978) with Victor Maddern, where she dances romantically in a laundrette.
Daughter of a Railway Station Master, John Henry Sims (1888-1964), from Laindon, Essex, England. Known as John or Harry, he had served during WWI.
While filming the wine-tasting party scene in Carry On Regardless (1961), the director Gerald Thomas switched the water in her glass for neat vodka. Her reaction to the drink is obvious during the scene, however she refused to give in to the director's practical joke. The producer Peter Rogers made Gerald Thomas cut a few times, so that she had to keep sipping on the neat vodka.
Sold her more substantial home in Fulham several years earlier, complaining of money problems and expressing fears that she would be bankrupt.
Had a relationship with Anthony Baird but her parents intervened to end the relationship after they found that she was living with the actor in 'sin'. They sent her a frankly worded letter even though she was in her late 20s and she obeyed her parents command. She blamed her loneliness later in life on this experience, where she was unable to commit to a relationship without her parents approval.
Between 1979 and 1981 Joan had to deal with the deaths of her agent and mentor Peter Eade, her best friend Hattie Jacques and her mother. In 1982 she suffered a nervous breakdown and spent two months in a psychiatric hospital.
She entered hospital in November 2000. However complications of a routine operation caused her to slip into a coma. Her lifelong friend Norah Holland has spoken of the doctors' amazement at her strength and courage throughout her final illness. Ten minutes before Joan died, Norah spoke to her gently about Kenny (Kenneth Williams, Hattie (Hattie Jacques), and their time on the 'Carry On...' films. Joan died with Norah holding her hand.
Was cast in a new "Carry On..." due to film in 1988, "Carry On Again Nurse" along with Barbara Windsor, Kenneth Williams, Jack Douglas and Charles Hawtrey. The film centered around hospital due for closure and an oddball set of characters who went about saving the institution. Joan Sims was cast as the Matron; a role synonymous with 'Carry On...' legend Hattie Jacques, who had died in 1980. There was due to be a reminder of Hattie's performances as Matron in a small tribute. Joan Sims was due to turn a photograph of her around after the hospital had been saved and say, "Well, did I do alright?" The production was scheduled to start in June 1988, however the film was plunged into chaos following the death of "Carry On..." starts Charles Hawtrey and Kenneth Williams and was eventually cancelled.
A plaque in her memory was unveiled in June 2005 at Laindon railway station in Essex. She lived in the station house for 22 years where her father Harry was station master.
Fractured her hip in 2000 and spent two weeks in the Conquest Hospital in Hastings, England. She was provided with a replacement hip and recovered well.
Suffered with Bell's palsy in 1999, which caused depression and alcoholism.
In her early career she was often confused with Dora Bryan, due to their likeness.
Spent her first salary of £25 on kitchen utensils from Selfridges.
Went to Columbia in 1966 to promote the "Carry On..." films.
Became a good friend of Katharine Hepburn during the filming of Love Among the Ruins (1975). Hepburn allowed her to use her caravan during filming breaks, although she did tick her off for smoking. Sims later described working on this film as one of the high points of her whole career.
Portrayed by Chrissie Cotterill in Cor, Blimey! (2000) and by Beatie Edney (daughter of former Joan Sims co-star Sylvia Syms) in Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa! (2006).
She and Norah Holland were once accosted by a woman in a butcher shop who demanded to know whether Joan was looking after Carry-On film on-screen husband Sidney James.
She and Frankie Howerd had difficulty working together, because they could not stop laughing. During scenes, they would have to look at one another's forehead in order to avoid eye contact and avoid more laughter.
Her character in Carry on Henry VIII (1971), Queen Marie, is in love with garlic during the film. In rehearsals, peppermint was used for the garlic. However on one occasion, director Gerald Thomas replaced the peppermint with real garlic. This remained in the film: Joan's reaction on screen is obvious.
Anthony Asquith once told her that she couldn't play a serious role because she had such a happy cheery face.
She was offered the chance to star in a spin-off series based on her character of "Gran" from Till Death Us Do Part (1965), but she turned it down, saying she thought the character was "too depressing".
She was turned down for the part of Mrs Gamp in Martin Chuzzlewit (1994) in favour of Elizabeth Spriggs but was offered the smaller part of Betsy Prig.
She had a part in A Village Affair (1995) but fell from a bicycle during filming and cracked a rib. She was replaced by Rosalie Crutchley.
Her funeral was held at Putney Vale Crematorium on 5 July 2001. A memorial service was held at St. Paul's, Covent Garden (commonly known as the Actors' Church) on 22 October 2001.
She was turned down for the part of Miss Crawley in Vanity Fair (1998).
Joan did not like attending funerals. She did not attend the funerals of her good friends and 'Carry On' colleagues Hattie Jacques in 1980 and Kenneth Williams in 1988. The funeral of producer Betty E. Box in 1999 was a rare exception.
A lifelong smoker, in later years Joan refused to be photographed with a cigarette in her hand in case it influenced younger fans to take up the habit.
At the time of her best friend Hattie Jacques's death in 1980 she was contracted to play Mrs Thompson in a BBC play, BBC2 Playhouse: Virginia Fly Is Drowning (1981). She completed two days filming before dropping out due to ill health.
Joan was a very private person. She rarely gave interviews and did not like press attention.
She played a teacher in both The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954) and Carry On Teacher (1959).
Although well known as a West End revue star in the 1950s, in later years Joan disliked long theatre runs and preferred filming, as there was something new to do every day.
She was offered the lead part in Nurse on Wheels (1963) by Peter Rogers but lost the part due to weight problems. Rogers was very upset about having to remove her and offered her any other female part in the film, with a higher salary. Joan accepted the part of the vicar's daughter and the lead part went to Juliet Mills.
Joan spent the last months of her life in and out of a coma. Only her closest friends and associates were aware of this and many of her former colleagues didn't even know she was seriously ill. Offers of work were still reaching her agent's office in 2001 and had to be turned down without explaining why.
Although she played Terry Scott's mother in Carry On Up the Jungle (1970), she was three years his junior in real life.
Daughter of John Henry (1888-1964) and Gladys Marie (née Ladbrook) Sims (1896-1981).
Joan's drinking problem was said to have started in the early 1980s after several bereavements. A recent biography of Joan suggests it started as early as the late 1960s/early 1970s.
During the filming of Don't Lose Your Head (1967), Joan bought her first car - a Truimph Herald convertible - from Dove's Showroom in Streatham. She paid the full asking price, not knowing it was then customary to haggle over a discount. It turned out the showroom chairman, Geoffrey Dove, was a friend of 'Carry On' director Gerald Thomas, and Gerald got Joan a good discount from Dove, in exchange for a few publicity photos of her with the car.
Was supposed to play Flo Castle in Carry On Cruising (1962), but dropped out due to illness. The role went to Dilys Laye.
Was offered the role of Matron in Carry On Doctor (1967), but she claimed that Hattie Jacques was the best Matron, after playing one in Carry On Nurse (1959). She took the role of Chloe Gibson instead.
She had a small part in The Ship Was Loaded (1957), unrelated to the later Carry On series and with no other cast members in common with the series.
She underwent a hysterectomy, including the removal of an ovarian cyst, in 1992.
Her favourite Carry On was Carry On Cowboy (1965).
She was considered for guest roles in Doctor Who (1963) - Lady Cranleigh in "Black Orchid" and Lady Tanha in "Snakedance". She did appear as Queen Katryca in "The Mysterious Planet".

Personal Quotes (19)

"I can get quite embarrassed seeing some of the things on television. I don't know whether things have to be quite as explicit as they are nowadays. Carry On films were much more innocent." (2000)
"I don't think I've ever had anybody say the words, 'Will you marry me?', not even someone tight as a tick at a party." (2000)
"To be a comic woman, you have to put up with quite a bit of banter. But I didn't mind. I've got a dirty sense of humour and I never found those things really offensive." (2000)
"I'm a workaholic, really, so it's hard when I'm not working. I'm not a great reader, so I do watch a lot of telly. I've actually become the most frightful cabbage potato." (2000)
"I was always being ticked off for making the class laugh, usually by mimicking the teacher." (2000)
[In reference to Carry On Cowboy (1965) and to her character Belle Armitage and Belle's appearance on the hotel saloon's stairs during the film] I think it was one of my favourite scenes in any of the "Carry On..." films. I was really living out a lot of fantasies during that scene, because it was a gorgeous dress, I liked the way my hair was done and then I encounter Sid, playing Rumpo, and I get to say that 'my name is Belle - but my intimate friends call me Ding Dong'. Really subtle lines like that! (1998)
[In reference to Sidney James and his death in 1976] "Sid was a darling man and that's the only way I can describe him. He was always very kind to the ladies and he was always very protective about the ladies. He was a very very sad loss." (1998)
[In reference to the Dinner Party scene in Carry On Up the Khyber (1968)] "It was three horrendous days, there were people dropping sacks of muck from the ceiling. It was a nightmare but it was still terrific fun." (1998)
[Speaking in 1998 about her appearance in Carry On England (1976)] There was certainly a decline in yours truly, that ated] face, which was coming out of that ated] uniform, I mean it was horrific. I thought go home and put your feet up love.
[In reference to Sidney James and 1990s documentaries on his life and apparent affairs and behaviour] "I think it's quite unnecessary. Why can't the poor man and his family be left alone? He gave the public a great deal of enjoyment."
[on the "Carry On..." films being repeated on television] "I do have deep feelings of injustice for myself and the others. The public might think we are paid residuals, but we get nothing for the films or those television compilations." (2000)
"Men are put off by funny women." (2000)
I had not expected to end up on my own in a small rented flat". [After 50 years in show business and in reference to her flat in Kensington]
I don't think it worked without us, dear. We were a unique formula. [on the film Carry on Columbus (1992)]
"I was always being ticked off for making my class laugh, usually by mimicking the teacher." (2000)
"I used to be very extravagant. Once, because I was appearing on The Kenneth Williams Show (1970) I went to Harvey Nicks and bought two outfits for £600 - which was a fortune in those days - and then took myself to the Hyde Park Hotel for tea." (2000)
"A new Carry On is a big event in the cinema nowadays, it is not surprising that we all want to be on our toes when we get Peter Rogers call to make another one." (1961)
I was once mistaken for Shirley MacLaine in a fish-and-chip shop off the Edgware Road.
[on making the "Carry On..." films] "It was like going back to school each time."

Salary (25)

Will Any Gentleman...? (1953) £25
Hurrah for Halloween (1953) £21
Frankie Howerd (1956) £49
Carry on Nurse (1959) £750
Carry on Teacher (1959) £1,500
Carry on, Constable (1960) £2,000
Carry on Regardless (1961) £2,500
Carry On Cleo (1964) £750
Carry On Cowboy (1965) £1,750
Carry On Screaming! (1966) £175
Follow That Camel (1967) £150
Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968) £2,500
Iolanthe (1968) £735
Carry On Camping (1969) £2,500
Carry on Again Doctor (1969) £2,500
Carry on Up the Jungle (1970) £3,000
Carry on Loving (1970) £2,250
Carry on Henry (1971) £3,000
Jackanory Playhouse (1972) £150
Carry on Abroad (1972) £2,500
Carry on Girls (1973) £2,500
Carry on Dick (1974) £2,000
Carry on Behind (1975) £2,000
Carry on England (1976) £2,000
Carry on Emmannuelle (1978) £2,500

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro Pro Name Page Link

Contribute to This Page


Recently Viewed