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25 February 1904
Willesden, Middlesex, England
|Died||30 August 1981
Westminster, London, England
|Spouse(s)||Lionel Stanley "Thommie" Thompson (separated)|
Henry Webb, actor
George Webb, actor
Rita Webb (25 February 1904 – 30 August 1981) was an English character actress, mainly in comedy roles. She was the eldest child of Henry Augustus Webb (1880-1926) and Rose Jeannette Keysor. She had a younger brother, Henry Richard Webb, also an actor, and two elder identical twin half-brothers, Leslie and Gordon Durlacher, from her mother's first marriage to Samuel Durlacher. She was the niece of Leonard Keysor, the first Jewish serviceman to win the Victoria Cross in World War I. A half-brother was the actor George Webb.
Born Olive Webb in Willesden, Middlesex, England, she is best known for her appearances as a stooge for Benny Hill in his long-running Thames Television series. At under five feet tall, with a booming voice and dyed flame-red hair, she was often cast as a blowsey mother-in-law or Cockney type character. Her vital statistics were 48 inch bust, 46 inch waist, 52 inch hips, 4' 10" inches in height and 15 stone (approx. 210 lbs) in weight.
Following her separation from her husband she lived with Al Jeffery "Jeffie", an accomplished banjo player, whom she adored. She was called "Podge" by Jeffie and was proud that she still had all her own teeth. She signed her letters: "Dame Rita Webb" and had refused to be on the This is Your Life TV show. She and her brother were exceptionally close and they talked every night on the telephone until her death.
In the 1960s she made a number of television appearances with Billy Cotton and alongside Arthur Haynes. Her many television credits include several appearances in Spike Milligan's Q series, Dixon of Dock Green, Till Death Us Do Part, Up Pompeii! with Frankie Howerd and Steptoe_and_Son. She also appeared in supporting roles in many films including To Sir, with Love (1967), The Magic Christian (1969), Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972), Confessions of a Pop Performer (1975) and Come Play with Me (1977).
Rita Webb died in 1981 and her funeral was held at St Paul's Church, Covent Garden, the Actors' Church, after which she was cremated and her ashes scattered in the Garden of Remembrance. She was survived by Jeffie, her brother, Henry, and Henry's three children, whom she had regarded as her own.
- Hindle Wakes (1952)
- The Boy and the Bridge (1959)
- Urge to Kill (1960)
- The Young Ones (1961)
- The Boys (1962)
- The Bargee (1964)
- He Who Rides a Tiger (1965)
- The Idol (1966)
- Stranger in the House (1967)
- To Sir, with Love (1967)
- The Man Outside (1967)
- Zeta One (1969)
- The Nine Ages of Nakedness (1969)
- The Magic Christian (1969)
- Up the Chastity Belt (1971)
- Percy (1971)
- Up Pompeii (1971)
- Frenzy (1972)
- Confessions of a Pop Performer (1975)
- I'm Not Feeling Myself Tonight (1976)
- Come Play with Me (1977)
- The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978)
- The London Connection (1979)
- Venom (1981)
She also appeared in two TV episodes of Steptoe and Son.
- GRO Register of deaths: SEP 1981 15 1754 WESTMINSTER - Olive Rita Thompson, DoB = 25 Feb 1904
- Who's On TV (ITV Books, 1980)