Welsh actor Victor Spinetti dies at 82
Italian-Welsh born star of stage and screen Victor Spinetti died at the age of 82 on the morning of 18th June 2012. He had been suffering from cancer. Spinetti’s agent Barry Burnett said: “He had cancer for a year, but he was very cheerful to the end”.
Born in a room above his family-owned chip shop in Cwm, Ebbw Vale on 2nd September 1929, Spinetti had early ambitions of being a teacher. He later turned to acting and studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff where he met his partner of 44 years, Graham Curnow, who died in 1997.
He appeared in more than 31 films, including Voyage of the Damned, The Return of the Pink Panther, The Krays and Under Milk Wood with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. He went on to win a Tony award in 1965 for his performance in Oh, What a Lovely War! It was this particular performance that prompted the Beatles to ask him to appear in A Hard Day’s Night (1964), although it is rumoured that George Harrison urged Spinetti to star in more of their films: “If you’re not in them me mum won’t come and see them – because she fancies you.”
Fellow Welshman Rob Brydon tweeted: “So sad Victor Spinetti has died. The funniest story teller I’ve ever met and a lovely warm man. Proud to have been his friend. ‘Eh, Vic…’” Singer and actor Britt Ekland is among many who are “devastated to have lost a true acting genius”.
Sir Paul McCartney described him as “the man who makes clouds disappear”.
The BBC documentary shown last year of the actor, poet and unmatched raconteur Spinetti is due to be broadcast at 22:45 BST by BBC Wales on BBC One on 20th June 2012.