|Born||John Paton Laurie
25 March 1897
Dumfries, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
|Died||23 June 1980
Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom
|Cause of death||Emphysema|
|Resting place||Ashes scattered at sea|
|Spouse(s)||Florence Saunders (1924–26) (her death)
Oonah Todd-Naylor (1928–1980)
John Paton Laurie (25 March 1897 – 23 June 1980) was a Scottish actor. Throughout a long career, Laurie performed a wide range of theatre and film work. He is perhaps best remembered to modern audiences for his role as Private Frazer in the sitcom Dad's Army (1968–77). Laurie appeared in scores of feature films with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Powell, and Laurence Olivier. He was also a stage actor (particularly in Shakespearean roles) and speaker of verse, especially of Robert Burns.
Laurie was born in Dumfries, Dumfriesshire to William Laurie (1856–1903), a clerk in a tweed mill and later a hatter and hosier, and Jessie Ann Laurie (née Brown; 1858–1935). John Laurie atteneded Dumfries Academy, then enrolled at a grammar school before abandoning a career in architecture to serve in the First World War as a member of the Honourable Artillery Company. Upon his demobilisation,he trained to become an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London and first acted on stage in 1921.
A prolific Shakespearean actor, Laurie spent much of the time between 1922 and 1939 playing parts, including in Hamlet, Richard III, and Macbeth at the Old Vic or Stratford-upon-Avon. He featured in Laurence Olivier's three Shakespearean films, Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948), and Richard III (1955). He and Olivier also appeared in As You Like It (1936). During the Second World War, Laurie served in the Home Guard.
Laurie's early films included Juno and the Paycock (1930), directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The actor's breakthrough third film was Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (1935) in which he played a crofter. Other roles included Peter Manson in Michael Powell's The Edge of the World (1937), Clive Candy's batman in Powell and Pressburger's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), a gardener in Medal for the General (1944), the farmer recruit in The Way Ahead (1944), and the brothel proprietor in Fanny by Gaslight (1944). In the film I Know Where I'm Going! (1945), another Powell and Pressburger production, Laurie had a small speaking part in a céilidh sequence for which he was also credited as an adviser. In the next decade he played the repugnant Pew in Disney's Treasure Island (1950), Angus in Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951), and Dr. MacFarlane in Hobson's Choice (1954).
Laurie's role as Frazer, the gaunt-faced, intense, pessimistic undertaker, and Home Guard soldier in the BBC sitcom Dad's Army (1968–77) remains his most known television role, although he featured in many British series of the 1950s, '60s, and '70s including Tales of Mystery, Doctor Finlay's Casebook, and The Avengers.
Laurie starred as Mad Peter in the Hammer film The Reptile (1966), and later appeared in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), the Disney film One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing (1975), and The Prisoner of Zenda (1979). One of his last appearances, looking slightly frail, was in Return to the Edge of the World (1978), in which Michael Powell revisited his earlier film of forty years before. Laurie's final work was in the BBC Radio 2 comedy series Tony's (1979) along with Victor Spinetti and Deborah Watling.
Laurie was married twice; his first wife, Florence Saunders, whom he had met at the Old Vic, died in 1926. His second wife was Oonah V. Todd-Naylor, with whom he had a daughter. He died aged 83 from emphysema in the Chalfont and Gerrards Cross Hospital, Chalfont St Peter. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea.
Partial television credits
|1952||The Three Hostages||Insp. MacGillivray||Four episodes|
|1961-63||Tales of Mystery||Host / Algernon Blackwood||29 episodes|
|1962-69||The Avengers||Various||Four episodes|
|1963||Steptoe and Son||The Vet||Episode "Wallah, Wallah Catsmeat"|
|1965||Z Cars||Dr Ferguson||Episode "Partners"|
|Emergency-Ward 10||Professor Corliss||Six episodes|
|1968-77||Dad's Army||Private James Frazer||80 episodes, recurring role|
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- GRO Register of Deaths: JUN 1980 19 1081 CHILTERN/B - John Paton Laurie, DoB = 25 Mar 1897
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- "John Laurie". TV.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
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- "Tony's". RadioTimes. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
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