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19 December 1927
Croydon, Surrey, England
11 August 2005 (aged 77)|
Hadleigh, Essex, England
|Other names||David Geeves-Booth|
|Spouse(s)||Paula Delaney (1960-2005; his death; 4 children)|
James Booth (born David Geeves); (19 December 1927 – 11 August 2005) was an English film, stage and television actor and screenwriter. Though considered handsome enough to play leading roles, and versatile enough to play a wide variety of character parts, Booth naturally projected a shifty, wolfish, or unpredictable quality that led inevitably to villainous roles and comedy, usually with a cockney flavour. He is probably best known for his role as Private Henry Hook in Zulu.
He was born in Croydon, Surrey, on 19 December 1927, the son of a probation officer. He was educated at Southend Grammar School, which he left aged 17 to join the army. He rose to the rank of Captain. He spent several years working for an international trading company. However, his interest in acting soon took priority. He was trained at RADA and he made his first professional appearance as a member of the Old Vic company, before joining Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East in 1958. The Workshop's musical Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be became a hit and Booth, who played its most pungent character, looked poised for stardom. Producer Irving Allen signed Booth to an exclusive contract with Warwick Films.
Though many observers expected Booth to become a major star, his acting career stalled and nearly stopped. In interviews, Booth was forthcoming about the reasons for his professional difficulties. These included his appearance in the flop stage musical Twang! in 1965, the flop film The Secret of My Success opposite such popular actresses as Honor Blackman and Shirley Jones, his alcoholism, his unaggressive approach to selling himself, his lack of connections and his own failure to work hard because everything came so easily to him at first. Booth also turned down the lead role of Alfie. By 1974 he was bankrupt, heavily in debt and was forced to return to the stage.
When no one would offer Booth an acting job, he tried his hand at screenwriting and found opportunities in Hollywood. From the mid-1970s to sometime in the 1990s, Booth lived in southern California and worked primarily as a screenwriter, making occasional film or TV appearances, including a cameo appearance in the second series of Twin Peaks. He played a pornography baron living in enforced exile in Spain in series 2 of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet in 1985.
In later life Booth moved back to Britain. He never retired from performing.
He married Paula Delaney in 1960 and they had two sons and two daughters and lived in Hadleigh, Essex where he died on 11 August 2005 aged 77. His last film - Keeping Mum - was dedicated to his memory.
|1956||The Narrowing Circle||Bit Role||Uncredited|
|1957||The Girl in the Picture||Office boy||Credited as David Greever|
|1960||Jazz Boat||Spider Kelly|
|Let's Get Married||Photographer|
|The Trials of Oscar Wilde||Alfred Wood|
|In the Nick||Spider Kelly|
|In the Doghouse||Bob Skeffington|
|1963||Sparrows Can't Sing||Charlie Gooding|
|1964||Zulu||Private Henry Hook VC|
|1965||Ninety Degrees in the Shade||Vorell|
|The Secret of My Success||Arthur Tate|
|1967||Robbery||Inspector George Langdon|
|1968||The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom||Ambrose Tuttle|
|Darker than Amber||Burk|
|Macho Callahan||Harry Wheeler|
|The Man Who Had Power Over Women||Val Pringle|
|1973||That'll Be The Day||Mr MacLaine|
|1975||Brannigan||Charlie the Handle|
|1976||I'm Not Feeling Myself Tonight||S.J. Nutbrown|
|1977||Airport '77||Ralph Crawford|
|1978||Evening in Byzantium||Jack Conrad|
|The Jazz Singer||Paul Rossini|
|1981||Zorro, The Gay Blade||Valasquez|
|1985||Pray for Death||Willie Limehouse|
|1986||Bad Guys||Lord Percy|
|Avenging Force||Admiral Brown||(also co-wrote)|
|1987||The Retaliator||Dr Brock||aka Programmed to Kill|
|1988||Deep Space||Dr Forsyth|
|1990||American Ninja 4: The Annihilation||Mulgrew|
|1994||Inner Sanctum II||Detective Hooper|
|2005||Keeping Mum||Mr Brown||(final film role)|
|1958-59||The Adventures of William Tell||Various||3 episodes|
|1964||First Night||Newton||Episode: Stray Cats and Empty Bottles|
|1971||Shirley's World||Edmund Remberg||Episode: A Mother's Touch|
|1972||Bonanza||Reverend||Episode: "Second Sight"|
|1975||The Sweeney||Vic Labbett||Episode: Poppy|
|1978||Wheels||Sir Phillip Sturdevant||Miniseries|
|1982||The Fall Guy||Ian Graham||Episode: Child's Play|
|1985-93||Minder||Godfrey and Toby 'Jug' Johnson||2 episodes: Give Us This Daley's Bread and Gone with the Winchester|
|1986||Auf Wiedersehen, Pet||Kenny Ames||8 episodes|
|1990-91||Twin Peaks||Ernie Niles||5 episodes|
|1991||Lovejoy||Mordechai Frobel||1 episode|
|2000||The Bill||Freddy Walker||Episode: Crime and Punishment|
|1956-57||Richard III||Old Vic, London|
|1958||The Hostage||IRA officer||Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop|
|A Christmas Carol||Bob Cratchit||For the Theatre Workshop|
|1959||Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be||Tosher||Theatre Royal, Stratford|
|The Hostage||IRA officer||Wyndham's Theatre|
|1961-62||The Fire-Raisers||Royal Court Theatre|
|The Comedy of Errors||RSC, Stratford-on-Avon|
|King Lear||Edmund||RSC, Stratford-on-Avon|
|1973||The Entertainer||Archie Rice|||
|1975-76||Travesties||James Joyce||RSC and Noel Coward Theatre, London|
|1987-88||Peter Pan||Mr Darling/Captain James Hook||Tyne Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne and Opera House|
- Hall, Sheldon. Zulu: With Some Guts Behind It. Tomahawk Press, 2005.
- Noble, Peter. British Film and Television Yearbook: 1960/61. British and American Film Press, 1961.
- Walker, John. The Once and Future Film: British Cinema in the Seventies and Eighties. London: Methuen, 1985.
- IMDb - Twin Peaks Episode No. 2.8 (1990) - Full Cast & Crew
- The Hadleigh and Thundersley Community Archive Retrieved 2016-10-21.
- Shorter, Eric (16 August 2005). "(Obituary) James Booth". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
- Hall, 2005, p. 155
- Hall, 2005, p. 155