24 November 1919|
Hackney, London, England
|Died||23 March 2005 (aged 85)
Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England
|Spouse(s)||Margaret Jenkins (1947–1995; her death; 3 children)|
David Kossoff (24 November 1919 – 23 March 2005) was a British actor and author. In 1954 he won a BAFTA for his appearance in The Young Lovers. Perhaps his best-known roles were Alf Larkin in The Larkins and Professor Kokintz in The Mouse that Roared (1959) and its sequel The Mouse on the Moon (1963).
Because of the drug use of his son Paul, a rock musician, who subsequently died, he became an anti-drug campaigner. In 1971 he was also actively involved in the Nationwide Festival of Light, an organisation protesting against the commercial exploitation of sex and violence, and advocating the teaching of Christ as the key to re-establishing moral stability in Britain.
Life and career
Kossoff was born in London, the youngest of three children, to poor Russian Jewish immigrant parents. His father, Louis Kossoff (1883–1943), was a tailor, while another son, the eldest named Alec, changed his surname to Keith; the middle sister was named Sarah Rebecca (Sadie). In its obituary of David Kossoff, The Scotsman wrote how he was "a man of deep convictions and proud of his Jewish origins".
Kossoff started working in light entertainment on British television in the years following World War II. His first stage appearance was at the Unity Theatre in 1942 at the age of 23. He took part in numerous plays and films. He was a Member of the Society of Artists and Designers. In addition to this, he was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
His best-known television roles were the hen-pecked husband Alf Larkin in The Larkins, first broadcast in 1958, and a Jewish furniture maker in A Little Big Business. Film credits included The Young Lovers (1954 - for which he won a British Academy Film Award as Most Promising Newcomer to Film), A Kid for Two Farthings (1955), his role as Morry in the Oscar-winning The Bespoke Overcoat (1956), Professor Kokintz in The Mouse that Roared (1959) and its sequel The Mouse on the Moon (1963) with Bernard Cribbins. He played Sigmund Freud's father in Freud: The Secret Passion (1962) with Montgomery Clift in the lead.
He was also well known for his story-telling skills, particularly with regard to reinterpreting the Bible. His best-known book, also a television series, is The Book of Witnesses (1971), in which he turned the Gospels into a series of monologues. He also retold dozens of Old Testament and Apocrypha stories in Bible Stories (1968).
In 1953, he played the character Lemuel "Lemmy" Barnet in the British sci-fi radio series Journey into Space.
He married Jennie and had two sons, Paul and Simon. Following the death in 1976 of his son Paul, guitarist with the band Free, Kossoff established the Paul Kossoff Foundation which aimed to present the realities of drug addiction to children. Kossoff spent the remainder of his life campaigning against drugs. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he toured with a one-man stage performance about the death of his son and its effect on the family.
- The Good Beginning (1953)
- Rookery Nook ('live' TV, 1953)
- The Angel Who Pawned Her Harp (1954)
- The Young Lovers (1954)
- Svengali (1954)
- A Kid for Two Farthings (1955)
- I Am a Camera (1955)
- The Woman for Joe (1955)
- Now and Forever (1956)
- 1984 (1956)
- Who Done It? (1956)
- Wicked As They Come (1956)
- The Iron Petticoat (1956)
- The Bespoke Overcoat (1956)
- House of Secrets (1956)
- Count Five and Die (1957)
- Innocent Sinners (1958)
- Indiscreet (1958)
- The Journey (1959)
- The Mouse That Roared (1959)
- Jet Storm (1959)
- The House of the Seven Hawks (1959)
- Inn for Trouble (1960)
- Conspiracy of Hearts (1960)
- The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)
- Freud: The Secret Passion (1962)
- Summer Holiday (1963)
- The Mouse on the Moon (1963)
- Ring of Spies (1964)
- Three for All (1975)
- The London Connection (1979)
- Staggered (1994)
- "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
- "Variety Club - Jewish Chronicle colour supplement "350 years"". The Jewish Chronicle. 2006-12-15. pp. 28–29.
- Alasdair, Steven. "David Kossoff: Actor", The Scotsman, April 5, 2005. Accessed September 1, 2011. "As an actor David Kossoff brought a refined and quick-witted quality to his roles. But he was also a man of deep convictions and proud of his Jewish origins, though he had a delightfully self-deprecating way of telling rambling Jewish jokes."
- BFI database