Jerry Desmonde

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Jerry Desmonde
Desmonde (far right) as Sir Hector in A Stich in Time as he fends off an unwelcome intruder, Norman Pitkin, portrayed by Norman Wisdom (second from left)
Born James Robert Sadler
(1908-07-20)20 July 1908
Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, North Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died 11 February 1967(1967-02-11) (aged 58)
London, England
Cause of death suicide
Resting place Golders Green Crematorium
Occupation Musical theatre performer, comedy foil, presenter and game show host, film, TV and radio actor
Years active 1946-1966
Spouse(s) Peggy Duncan (1930-1966) (her death) (2 children)
Children Jacqueline & Gerald

Jerry Desmonde (20 July 1908 – 11 February 1967) was an English stage musical, film, and television actor principally in comedies and drama. He is probably best known as a straight man to Norman Wisdom. He also worked as a comedy foil to Sid Field, notably in their 1946 Golfing sketch. He is sometimes credited as Jerry Desmond.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Jerry Desmonde was born James Robert Sadler in Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, North Riding of Yorkshire, into a family of music hall performers who toured the halls in Scotland, North East England and Yorkshire.[2]

Sadler first appeared on stage at the age of 11 and later became part of his family's act The Four Sadlers.[3] He built a career as a song and dance man in musical theatre and later toured parts of the United States in 1927-1928 with Beatrice Lillie and Noël Coward in the two-act revue This Year of Grace.[3][4] By 1934 he had married Peggy Duncan and they toured as a double act called Peg and Jerry, largely in Scotland.[3]

Desmonde was known for working as a straight man to comedian Sid Field (pictured)

Later career[edit]

In the 1940s, Desmonde was briefly a straight man for Scottish comedian Dave Willis and in 1942 he was invited to be straight man for stage comedian Sid Field becoming one of the most celebrated comedy teams ever to appear on stage.[2][3] They appeared together on stage in three very successful revues, Strike a New Note (1943)[5] and Strike it Again (1944)[6] and Piccadilly Hayride (1946)[7] at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London and in two films, London Town (1946)[8] an infamous flop, and in Cardboard Cavalier (1949).[1] The two men next worked together on a stage play, Harvey at the Prince of Wales Theatre, from which Desmonde was ultimately sacked.[3] In 1950 a few months later, during the play's run Sid Field died of a heart attack.

In 1949 Desmonde appeared on television as a presenter in Rooftop Rendezvous.[9] He was a regular panelist and occasional guest host on the original UK version of the television panel game What's My Line? (1951–1962),[2][10] and appeared in several TV comedies namely, Holiday Camp (1951) with Arthur Askey,[11] A Flight of Fancy (1952) with Jimmy Young, then a singer working as a comedian, Spectacular (1960)[1] Before Your Very Eyes (1956–58) with Arthur Askey,[12] He appeared in Whack-O! (1960)[1] and Bud in 1963 a sitcom with Bud Flanagan and other members of The Crazy Gang.[13] He also appeared in The Dickie Henderson Show (1963)[1] and episodes of the ITV television series A Question of Happiness (1964),[14] The Plane Makers (1964),[15] The Villains (1965), No Hiding Place (1965), The Mask of Janus (1965),[16] The Valliant Varneys (1965) and Pardon the Expression (1966)[1] and Vendetta (1966).[1]

As a game show host he hosted ATV's Hit The Limit (1956)[17] and The 64,000 Question (1956)[18] television gameshows and in October 1956 Jerry appeared on the front cover of TV Times magazine.[19] On radio Jerry appeared with Bob Hope on The Bob Hope Show (1951) and (1954)[20][21] the CBS radio play The Incredible History of John Shepherd (1954),[22] and occasionally presented Housewives' Choice[2][23] on the BBC's Light Programme.

Desmonde continued to appear on the London stage in Where's Charley? (1958)[24] a theatre musical production of the play Charley's Aunt with (Sir) Norman Wisdom, and in the short-lived Belle (1961)[25] alternatively titled The Ballad of Dr Crippen a music hall musical with George Benson and Rose Hill.

Jerry Desmonde was in numerous movies from 1946 to 1965 including several comedies with (Sir) Norman Wisdom, and starred in several others.[1] The Wisdom films usually involved the gump character (Wisdom) in a junior position to a "straight man" superior, often played by Edward Chapman, and fighting against the unfairness wrought by some "authority figure", often played by Jerry Desmonde.[26]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Peggy Duncan[3] and they had two children, a daughter Jacqueline and son Gerald.[1] After World War II Desmonde and his family settled in London and his daughter Jacqueline married clarinettist Peter Howes, the son of actor Bobby Howes[1] and brother to actress Sally Ann Howes. In 1967 following bouts of depression after the death of his wife Desmonde took his own life.[23]




  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Jerry Desmonde". Internet Movie Database. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Jerry Desmonde (1908-1967)". Famous People: The North-East. Archived from the original on 26 October 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Proud, Keith. "North East History". The Northern Echo. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. 
  4. ^ a b "This Year of Grace". Internet Broadway Database. 
  5. ^ a b Sudley, Sandra. "Lunchbox". Whirligig. 
  6. ^ a b Benedick, Adam (19 November 1995). "Obituary: Roberta Huby". The Independent. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Wilton, Rob. "Personality". Theatricalia. 
  8. ^ Mellor, Roger. "London Town - 1946". Archived from the original on 4 April 2007. 
  9. ^ "Rooftop Rendezvous". British Film Institute. 
  10. ^ George, Gerry. "What's My Line?". Jerry George's Memories, 1950s British Television Nostalgia, Whirligig. ; "What's My Line?". ; "The Box". Greasy Spoon Cafe. 
  11. ^ "Holiday Camp". British Film Institute. 
  12. ^ Coniam, Matthew. "Before Your Very Eyes (1956-1958)". screenonline. BFI. 
  13. ^ "Jerry Desmonde". The Guide to Comedy. Archived from the original on 25 November 2006. 
  14. ^ "Jacqueline Pearce". Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. 
  15. ^ "The Plane Makers". British Film Institute. 
  16. ^ "The Mask of Janus". Action TV online. 
  17. ^ "Hit the Limit". 
  18. ^ "The 64,000 Dollar Question". 
  19. ^ "TV Times". AOL. [dead link]
  20. ^ "Bob Hope". YourRadioShows.Com. Archived from the original on 19 October 2007. ; "The Marilyn Maxwell Collection". Radio of Yesteryear. 
  21. ^ "The Bob Hope Show .. episodic log". Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs. 
  22. ^ "Premier Collections: Crime Classics". Radio Archives. 
  23. ^ a b "Jerry Desmonde". UKGameshows. Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  24. ^ a b Wilton, Rob. "Musicals 1950s". Theatricalia. 
  25. ^ a b Wilton, Rob. "Musicals 1960s". Theatricalia. ; "Belle". Musical Heaven. Archived from the original on 3 January 2007. ; "Murder Mystery and Mayhem: Belle". British Musical Theatre. Archived from the original on 18 September 2007. ; "Belle". 
  26. ^ Crook, Steve. "British Films and Chat". Britmovie Forum. Archived from the original on 22 January 2008. 
  27. ^ "Theatre collections: record view". University of Kent. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  28. ^ "Judy Garland At The London Palladium". Judy in London. Archived from the original on 10 June 2007. 
  29. ^ a b "Publicity Postcards Full Colour". Vaudeville Postcards. Archived from the original on 22 August 2007. 
  30. ^ "Painting the Town". The Guide to Musical Theatre. Retrieved 30 October 2011. ; "Theatre collections: record view". University of Kent. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  31. ^ Wilton, Rob. "Theatre World Magazines 1950s". Theatricalia. Archived from the original on 17 May 2006. 
  32. ^ "All collections search: record view". University of Kent. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  33. ^ "Alf's Baby". ; "Alf's Baby". 

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