|Born||Josephine Edwina Jaques
7 February 1922
Sandgate, Kent, England
|Died||6 October 1980
Kensington, London, England
|Spouse(s)||John Le Mesurier (m. 1949–1965) (divorced)|
Josephine Edwina Jaques (7 February 1922 – 6 October 1980), known professionally as Hattie Jacques, was an English comedy actress.
Starting her career in the 1940s, Jacques first gained attention through her radio appearances with Tommy Handley on ITMA and later with Tony Hancock on Hancock's Half Hour. From 1958 to 1974 she appeared in fourteen Carry On films, playing roles such as a hospital matron. She had a long professional partnership with Eric Sykes, with whom she co-starred in his long-running television series Sykes. She also starred in two Norman Wisdom films, The Square Peg and Follow a Star.
Jacques was married to John Le Mesurier from 1949 until their divorce in 1965.
Early life 
Hattie Jacques was born Josephine Edwina Jaques in Sandgate, Kent on 7 February 1922, the daughter of Robin and Mary Jaques. Her father was an RAF pilot and footballer for Clapton Orient and Fulham who was killed in an aeroplane crash 18 months after her birth. Her mother was an amateur actress. Her brother was the artist and illustrator Robin Jacques.
Educated at the Godolphin and Latymer School, she served as a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment and worked as a welder in a factory in north London during the Second World War. Around this time an American soldier, Major Charles Kearney, proposed to her; Jacques later claimed he had been killed in action. While researching for Jacques 2007 biography, however, author Andy Merriman discovered that Kearney had a wife and children in the United States when he had proposed to Jacques and in 1984 had been living in Massachusetts.
At the age of 20, she made her theatrical debut at the Players' Theatre in London. Almost immediately, she became a regular performer with the company, appearing in music hall revues and playing the Fairy Queen in their Victorian-style pantomimes. It has been reported she sometimes "sang Marie Lloyd songs and ended her act by leaping into the air and doing the splits".
After achieving success in radio, television and film, she returned to the Players' regularly as a performer, writer and director. It was during her time at the Players' that she acquired the nickname "Hattie" – appearing in a minstrel show called Coal Black Mammies for Dixie, she took to the stage blacked up and was likened to the American actress Hattie McDaniel (of Gone with the Wind fame). Thereafter the name stuck.
In 1947 she was seen at the Players' by Ted Kavanagh, the scriptwriter of It's That Man Again (ITMA), and was invited to join the cast of the radio comedy series, between 1948 and 1949, playing the greedy schoolgirl Sophie Tuckshop.
In 1956, she was asked to join the radio series Hancock's Half Hour, with regulars Tony Hancock, Sid James, Bill Kerr and Kenneth Williams. She also appeared in several episodes of Hancock's television series.
Carry On films 
She was also appearing in films by this time, and her early films included David Lean's Oliver Twist (1948), Scrooge (1951) and a couple of Norman Wisdom comedies, The Square Peg and Follow a Star. In 1958, she was part of the original Carry On team in Carry On Sergeant and achieved more widespread recognition.
She appeared in fourteen films in the long-running series and portrayed the no-nonsense Matron in five of the films – Carry On Nurse, Carry On Doctor, Carry On Again Doctor, Carry On Camping and Carry On Matron.
She was known by the team as a warm, kind-hearted and endearing lady and was close friends with many of her co-stars, including Kenneth Williams and Joan Sims, whom Hattie provided with a great deal of advice and practical help. In return, Sims regarded Hattie as her "greatest friend".
Eric Sykes 
In 1960 she joined Eric Sykes on his BBC comedy series Sykes and A..., in which they played a brother and sister who got into all sorts of comic scrapes. The joke was that they were meant to be twins, but were physically very dissimilar, Jacques being short and plump, while Sykes was thin and gangly. The show ran from 1960 to 1965 and was revived as Sykes from 1972 to 1979. They took the show on a national and international stage tour. However this put a strain on their professional relationship; in her view Sykes cut her lines and laughs because he resented Jacques's popularity with the audiences.
Personal life 
Hattie Jacques was married to actor John Le Mesurier from 1949 to 1965 when they divorced. They had two sons, Robin (born 1953) and Kim (born 1956). At the time of their divorce, the media were given the impression that the fault was Le Mesurier's. It was later revealed that Jacques had been having an affair with younger man John Schofield (died 2003) a cockney used-car dealer and at the time manager of rock band Brinsley Schwarz. The 2007 book Hattie: the Authorised Biography claims that Schofield moved into the master bedroom while Le Mesurier retreated to the attic. Jacques and Le Mesurier eventually separated but remained on good terms and Jacques encouraged him to marry his third wife, Joan.
Her affair with Schofield was short-lived however. When Jacques was filming in Rome, Schofield came out to stay and ran off with an Italian heiress. Jacques, who had had a weight problem since her teens, began eating "comfort food" and her weight ballooned to nearly 20 stone (130 kg). Le Mesurier went along with the charade of the marriage breakdown being his fault so as not to damage Jacques's career.
Portrayals in film and television 
- In January 2011, BBC Four produced a feature film for television entitled Hattie, which was a dramatisation of Jacques' personal life. The film starred celebrated comedy actress Ruth Jones who portrayed Jacques in the central role. 
- Jacques was portrayed by actress Claire Cathcart as a minor character in the television film Cor, Blimey!, a 2000 dramatisation of the love affair between Sid James and Barbara Windsor.
- Aspects of Jacques' personal life were referenced in the 2008 television film Hancock and Joan.
Jacques was a chain smoker. In her later years she was plagued by health problems, which included breathing difficulties, arthritis, high blood pressure and swollen, ulcerated legs. As a result of these she was unable to get insurance for films. She carried on working by taking to the road in a stage version of Sykes, which allowed her to continue supporting her favourite charities, as well as keeping up her busy social life.
She died of a heart attack on 6 October 1980, at the age of 58, shortly after completing a television advertisement campaign for UK supermarket Asda. Her family refused to allow Sykes to attend her funeral because they resented the way he had allegedly treated her during the stage show, Sykes. She was cremated at Putney Vale Crematorium, where her ashes were also scattered.
A memorial plaque to Jacques is situated in St Paul's, Covent Garden, otherwise known as the Actors' Church.
Radio performances 
- ITMA (1948–1949), Sophie Tuckshop
- Educating Archie (1950–1954), Agatha Dinglebody
- Hancock's Half Hour (1956–1958), Griselda Pugh
- It's A Fair Cop (1961) 8 episodes, with Eric Sykes
- Happy Holidays (1954), BBC, as Mrs Mulberry
- The Granville Melodramas (1955), ITV, as various characters
- The Tony Hancock Show (1956), Associated Redifusion/ITV, various characters
- Pantomania, or Dick Whittington (1956), BBC, as The Good Fairy,(written by Eric Sykes)
- Hancock's Half Hour (Series 2, episodes 2–6 1957, various characters, & Series 5, one episode, "The Cruise" 1959)
- Val Parnell's Saturday Spectacular (28 Dec 1957), ATV variety show with Eric Sykes and Edmond Hockridge
- Gala Opening (1959), BBC special with Eric Sykes
- Sykes and A... (1960–1965), BBC, as Harriet (Hat) Sykes
- Our House (1960–1962), ITV, as Georgina Ruddley
- The Billy Cotton Band Show (24 Dec 1961), BBC, with Eric Sykes.
- Christmas Night with the Stars (1962), BBC, as Harriet (Hat) Sykes (Sykes and his Sister short)
- This is Your Life (1963), BBC, subject
- The Royal Variety Performance (1963), BBC, with Eric Sykes
- ITV Play of the Week: A Choice of Coward (1964) – "Blithe Spirit" as Madam Arcarti (Granada TV)
- Miss Adventure (1964), a 13-part detective series, starring as Stacey Smith (ITV)
- Jackanory (1967), BBC children's series, guest storyteller
- Sykes versus ITV (1967), special for ABC TV
- Theatre 625:The Memorandum (1967), BBC2 drama anthology
- The World of Beachcomber (1968), BBC comedy series
- Howerd's Hour (1968), ABC TV
- Heyday Theatre:Knock Three Times (1968) – a 4-part children's fantasy serial as Aunt Nancy Popinjay
- Never a Cross Word (1968), LWT comedy, series 1 – one episode, "The Baldocks at Bay"
- Carry On Christmas (1969), special for Thames TV
- Inside George Webley (1970), comedy series, Series 2 – one episode, "Brief Encounter" as Mavis Butterfield
- Charley's Grants (1970), comedy series as Miss Manger
- Holiday Showtime (1970), guest
- Catweazle (1970) – series 1 – one episode, 'The Eye of Time' as Madam Rosa
- Sykes and a Big, Big Show (1971), BBC
- Sykes with the Lid Off (1971), special for Thames TV
- Frankie Howerd – The Laughing Stock of Television (1971)
- Doctor at Large (1971) – one episode, "Cynthia Darling" as Mrs Askey
- Sykes (1972–1979), Hattie
- Carry On Christmas:Carry On Stuffing (1972), special for Thames TV
- Carry On Laughing (1975) – one episode, "Orgy and Bess" as Queen Elizabeth I
- Eric Sykes Shows A Few of Our Favourite Things (1977), special for ITV
- The Gates of Saturn (1977-1978), ITV slapstick comedy series
- The Likes of Sykes (1980), special for Thames TV
- Rhubarb Rhubarb (1980), ITV remake of 1969 film Rhubarb
Selected films 
- Oliver Twist (1948), singer in the thieves' pub
- Trottie True (1949), music hall performer
- Waterfront (1950), singer
- Scrooge (1951) US title A Christmas Carol, Mrs Fezziwig
- Chance of a Lifetime (1950), Alice
- Up to His Neck (1954), Rakiki
- As Long as They're Happy (1955), party girl
- Now and Forever (1956)
- Carry On Sergeant (1958), Captain Clark
- The Square Peg (1958), Gretchen
- Carry On Nurse (1959), Matron
- The Navy Lark (1959), fortune-teller
- The Night We Dropped a Clanger (1959), Ada
- Carry On Teacher (1959), Grace Short
- Follow a Star (1959), Dymphna Dobson
- Make Mine Mink (1960), Nanette Parry
- Carry On Constable (1960), Sergeant Laura Moon
- School for Scoundrels (1960), First Instructress
- In the Doghouse (1961), Gudgeon
- Carry On Regardless (1961), Sister
- She'll Have to Go (1962), Miss Richards
- The Punch and Judy Man (1963), Dolly Zarathusa, the Fortune Teller
- Carry On Cabby (1963), Peggy
- Carry On Doctor (1967), Matron
- Rhubarb (1969), Nurse Rhubarb
- Crooks and Coronets (1969), Mabel
- Monte Carlo or Bust (1969), lady journalist
- Carry On Camping (1969), Miss Haggerd
- Carry On Again Doctor (1969), Matron
- The Magic Christian (1969), Ginger Horton
- Carry On Loving (1970), Sophie Bliss
- Carry On at Your Convenience (1971), Beatrice Plummer
- Carry On Matron (1971), Matron
- Carry On Abroad (1972), Floella
- Carry On Dick (1974), Martha Hoggett
- Doctor Kildare/Bedtime Story (Y7092, single, Decca Records 1962) with Eric Sykes
- Eric and Hattie and Things (LK 4507, LP, Decca Records 1962) with Eric Sykes
- Gray, Frances (January 2011). "Jacques, Josephine Edwina [Hattie] (1922–1980)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press). doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/53976. Retrieved 21 August 2012. (subscription required)
- GRO Register of Marriages: Jun 1919 1a 1102 Chelsea – Robin Jaques = Mary A. Thorn
- Joyce, Michael (2004). Football League Players' Records 1888 to 1939. Nottingham: SoccerData (Tony Brown). p. 137. ISBN 978-1-899468-67-6.
- Lewis, Roger (18 October 2007). The Daily Telegraph (London) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/non_fictionreviews/3668600/Carry-on-Hattie-Jacques.html
|url=missing title (help).
- Andy Merriman – Hattie – The Authorised Biography of Hattie Jacques, Arun Press, 2007
- Joan Sims High Spirits, Partridge, 2000
- Eric Sykes If I Don't Write it, Somebody Else Will – An Autobiography, Fourth Estate,2005
- Edge, Simon (18 May 2010). "Hattie Jacques and Her Heartbreak". Daily Express (London). Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- "Rhubard Rhubarb" at imdb.com
- GRO Register of Marriages: DEC 1949 5c 2328 KENSINGTON – John E. Le M. Halliley = Josephine E. Jacques
- Do You Think That's Wise McCann, p. 123
- "The secret lover who broke Hattie's heart: Hattie Jacques’ son recalls the love triangle he believes killed one of Britain’s best loved actresses"
- BBC Four: Hattie
- GRO Register of Deaths: DEC 1980 13 1473 KENSINGTON – Josephine Edwina Le Mesurier, DoB = 7 Feb 1922
- "Info for Superstores - Asda" at Vuktvadverts.com
- "British Film Institute Screen Online".
- Hattie Jacques at the Internet Movie Database
- Hattie Jacques at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Hattie Jacques appearance on This Is Your Life