March 28, 1928 |
Galicia, Second Polish Republic
|Alma mater||University of Melbourne|
|Years active||1953 – present|
John Bluthal (born 28 March 1928) is a Polish-born British film and television actor, mostly in comedy. He is best known for his work with Spike Milligan, and for his roles in the TV series Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width and The Vicar of Dibley.
Bluthal was born in Jezerzany, Galicia, Poland. He emigrated to Australia with his family in 1938 at the age of nine. Bluthal was educated at Princes Hill State School in Carlton North and subsequently studied drama at the University of Melbourne, and visited England, during which time he appeared in pantomime. He worked in repertory theatre in Melbourne and was also involved in broadcasting and schools broadcasting. Bluthal appeared in drama on ABC radio, and variety, including The Shell Hour and Gaslight Music Hall (which he devised and produced, and in which he starred).
He moved to England in 1959 and appeared in Citizen James for BBC television, and in the long-running UK TV series Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width in which he played Manny Cohen, a Jewish tailor in business with an Irishman in London. Also in the early 1960s, he provided the voice for Commander Zero in the television puppet series Fireball XL5. He appeared in the role of Fagin in the musical Oliver! at New Theatre, London. He has made dozens of film and TV shows since moving to England.
Bluthal also worked with Spike Milligan over several years, appearing with him in a 1958 Australian television special, "The Gladys Half-Hour". He appeared as several characters in Milligan and John Antrobus' stage play The Bed-Sitting Room, which opened at the Mermaid Theatre on 31 January 1963. He also worked with Milligan on the television series Q and its radio counterpart The Milligna Show. He previously worked with Milligan in the radio comedy series The Idiot Weekly and The Omar Khayyam Show. Bluthal is a man of many voices, like Milligan's former radio colleague Peter Sellers, and he was used somewhat like Sellers in Milligan's later work.
Some of his other television appearances include: The episode "Sykes and a Bath", broadcast on 25 January 1961, in series three of Sykes and a..., 'Allo 'Allo!, Hancock, Minder, The Avengers, Rumpole of the Bailey, Jonathan Creek, Lovejoy, Bergerac, and Inspector Morse, as well as appearing as Major Cheeseburger in The Goodies' episode "Clown Virus". He also appeared on the Australian comedy/satire series The Mavis Bramston Show and as "Enzo Pacelli" in the ABC-TV comedy television series Home Sweet Home.
In 1975, Bluthal took the part of Richard Armitage, described as "an Orthodox London Jew", in The Melting Pot. This was a sitcom written by Spike Milligan and Neil Shand, which was cancelled by the BBC after just one episode had been broadcast. Bluthal also appeared as "Chalky", a hospital patient, in the episode "I Gotta Horse" of the comedy television series Doctor Down Under (the Australian series of the British comedy television series Doctor in the House, which also starred Robin Nedwell as Dr. Duncan Waring and Geoffrey Davies as Dr. Dick Stuart-Clark).
His films appearances include: The Knack ...and How to Get It (1965), three Carry On films, two of the Doctor films, and also The Beatles' films A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help! (1965), two roles in Casino Royale (1967), and two of the Pink Panther films. Bluthal also played several characters in The Great McGonagall (1974), by Spike Milligan and Joseph McGrath, based on the life of William McGonagall. He portrayed an Egyptologist in the year 1914 for the first part of the film The Fifth Element (1997) and Uncle Karl in Dark City (1998). He also appeared in the comedy Beware of Greeks Bearing Guns (2000).
His work with the National Theatre London included roles in Tales from Hollywood, Entertaining Strangers, Antony and Cleopatra, Yonaadab, The Tempest, Winters Tale, and Cymbeline.
His latest appearances in TV have been in the sitcom The Vicar of Dibley as the fastidious minutes-taker Frank Pickle and as the caretaker Rocko in Spirited. He also appeared in the 2004 film Love's Brother.
- The Mouse on the Moon (1963)
- This Is My Street (1964)
- Carry On Spying (1964)
- A Hard Day's Night (1964)
- Help! (1965)
- The Knack ...and How to Get It (1965)
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)
- Follow That Camel (1967)
- Casino Royale (1967)
- A Ghost of a Chance (1968)
- Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River (1968)
- The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom (1968)
- A Talent for Loving (1969)
- Doctor in Trouble (1970)
- Carry On Henry (1971)
- Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World (1973)
- Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width (1973)
- The Great McGonagall (1974)
- The Over-Amorous Artist (1974)
- The Return of the Pink Panther (1975)
- Fantasm (1976)
- Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)
- The Irishman (1978)
- Superman III (1983)
- The Return of Captain Invincible (1983)
- A View From the Bridge (1985) BBC
- Labyrinth (1986)
- The Fifth Element (1997)
- Dark City (1998)
- RPM (1998)
- Spirited (2010 - 2011)
- John Bluthal - AusStage
- Milligan, Spike, & Antrobus, John (1973) The Bedsitting Room. Tandem: London. First published in Great Britain by Margaret & Jack Hobbs, 1970. Published by Universal-Tandem, 1972. © 1970 Spike Milligan and John Antrobus
- Scudamore, Pauline (1985). Spike Milligan: A Biography. London: Granada. ISBN 0-246-12275-7. pp.203–204
- McCann, Graham (2006). Spike & Co. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-89809-7. (a)p.158, (b)pp.215–216
- Milligan, Spike; Shand, Neil (1983). The Melting Pot. London: Robson Books. introductory pages. ISBN 0-86051-195-2.
- Lewis, Roger (1995). The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. London: Arrow Books. ISBN 0-09-974700-6. p.935