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Harry Towb

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Harry Towb
Born(1925-07-27)27 July 1925
Larne, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Died24 July 2009(2009-07-24) (aged 83)
London, England
Occupation(s)Stage, film and TV actor
Years active1950–2009
(m. 1965)

Harry Towb (27 July 1925 – 24 July 2009)[1] was an actor from Northern Ireland.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Towb was born in Larne, County Antrim, to a Russian-Jewish father and an Irish-Jewish mother; he once claimed he was the only Jew ever born in Larne. After his parents divorced, he moved with his mother and sister to north Belfast, where he attended the Finiston School and Technical College. He enlisted in the British Army during World War II and managed a military canteen, but was discharged once it emerged that he had lied about his age.[3] He then appeared on stage with a touring theatre company in Ireland, in repertory theatre in England and in London's West End, where he had a role in the musical adaptation of Bar Mitzvah Boy.[4] He also appeared in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the National Theatre in 2004.[5]

He was a cast member of ITV's first comedy, The Army Game (1957 - 1961). He made numerous appearances on UK television including popular UK TV series Callan, the Ronald Howard led Sherlock Holmes, The Avengers, Home James!, Casualty, The Bill, Minder, Doctor Who, The Saint, and Heartbeat.[6] His film appearances include Above Us the Waves (1955), The Blue Max (1966), Prudence and the Pill (1968), Patton (1970) and Lamb (1985).[7] In 1959 he appeared in a radio episode of Hancock's Half Hour, "Fred's Pie Stall".[8] In December 2008, Towb appeared in two episodes of the BBC soap opera EastEnders as David, Janine Butcher's fiancé.[9] He also appeared on the long-running BBC music hall show, The Good Old Days.[10]

Harry Towb was also a regular presenter on the BBC Schools' programme You and Me featuring with Cosmo and Dibs.[11] In the late 1970s, Towb appeared in a series of TV commercials advertising Younger's Tartan Special beer, which were shown on very heavy rotation in Scotland.

He appeared in the 1983 London production of the hit stage musical Little Shop of Horrors, starring the original American lead Ellen Greene, based on Roger Corman's low-budget horror movie.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Harry Towb was married to the actress Diana Hoddinott, with whom he had three children.[13] He died at his home in London from complications due to cancer. As his obituary in The Times said, "Asked, once, why he had become an actor, Harry Towb said it was because he had always wanted to be someone else." His "being fascinated by others... made him one of the finest character actors of his day", The Times continued. Towb, said one critic, "can be relied upon to add distinction to any production".[14] Towb continued to identify with his Jewish background, and in 1983 recorded a documentary, Odd Men In, about Belfast's Jewish community. He would describe his interview with Belfast-born Chaim Herzog for this documentary as his proudest moment.[15]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "Actor Harry Towb dies". breakingnews.iol.ie. 25 July 2009. Archived from the original on 28 July 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2009.
  2. ^ "Harry Towb | Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos". AllMovie.com. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  3. ^ "Harry Towb (1925-2009): Actor". The Dictionary of Ulster Biography.
  4. ^ "Harry Towb | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com.
  5. ^ Coveney, Michael (30 July 2009). "Harry Towb". The Guardian.
  6. ^ "Harry Towb". www.aveleyman.com.
  7. ^ "Harry Towb". Bfi.org.uk. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  8. ^ "BBC Radio 4 Extra - Hancock's Half Hour, Series 6, Fred's Pie Stall". BBC.
  9. ^ "Harry Towb". www.bafta.org. 11 May 2012.
  10. ^ "BBC One London - Schedules, Thursday 22 January 1976". BBC.
  11. ^ "Towb, Harry | Dictionary of Irish Biography".
  12. ^ "Production of Little Shop of Horrors | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com.
  13. ^ "Actor Harry Towb dies of cancer". BBC News. 25 June 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  14. ^ Obituary. 'Harry Towb: Actor', The Times. 29 July 2009.
  15. ^ Actor Harry Towb dies from The Jewish Chronicle

External links[edit]