Lionel Charles Jeffries
10 June 1926
Forest Hill, London, England
|Died||19 February 2010 (aged 83)|
|Occupation||Actor, film director, screenwriter|
Eileen Mary Walsh
(m. 1951; his death 2010)
In 1945, he received a commission in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and served in Burma at the Rangoon radio station during the Second World War, being awarded the Burma Star. (He blamed the humidity there for his hair loss at the age of 19.) He also served as a captain in the Royal West African Frontier Force.
He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He entered repertory at the David Garrick Theatre, Lichfield, Staffordshire for two years and appeared in early British television plays. Jeffries built a successful career in British films mainly in comic character roles and as he was prematurely bald he often played characters older than himself, such as the role of father to Caractacus Potts (played by Dick Van Dyke) in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), although Jeffries was actually six months younger than Van Dyke. His acting career reached a peak in the 1960s with leading roles in other films like Two-Way Stretch (1960), The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960), Murder Ahoy! (opposite Margaret Rutherford), First Men in the Moon (1964) and Camelot (1967).
Jeffries turned to writing and directing children's films, including a well regarded version of The Railway Children (1970) and The Amazing Mr Blunden (1972). He was a member of the British Catholic Stage Guild.
Jeffries had a dislike of television and its production values and shunned the medium for many years. He reluctantly appeared on television in an acting role in the 1980 London Weekend Television Dennis Potter drama Cream in My Coffee and realised that television production values were little different from those in the film industry; as a result he developed a belated career in television. He appeared in an episode of the Thames Television/ITV comedy-drama Minder in 1983 as Cecil Caine an eccentric widower, and in an episode of Inspector Morse in 1990 (Central Television/Zenith/ITV). He starred as Tom (Thomas Maddisson) in the Thames/ITV situation comedy Tom, Dick and Harriet; during location filming for a 1983 episode, Jeffries and his co-stars Ian Ogilvy and Bridget Forsyth had to be rescued when a stunt involving a car went wrong.
Retirement and death
Jeffries retired from acting in 2001 and his health declined in the following years. He died on 19 February 2010 in a nursing home in Poole, Dorset. He had suffered from vascular dementia for the last twelve years of his life.
He was married to Eileen Mary Walsh from 1951 until his death. They had a son and two daughters. His son Ty Jeffries is a composer, lyricist and cabaret artist. Lionel Jeffries' granddaughter is the novelist and playwright Amy Mason.
- Stage Fright (1950) - Bald RADA Student (uncredited)
- Will Any Gentleman...? (1953) - Mr. Frobisher
- The Black Rider (1954) - Martin Bremner
- The Colditz Story (1955) - Harry Tyler
- The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) - Blake
- No Smoking (1955) - George Pogson
- All for Mary (1955) - Maitre D', Hotel
- Windfall (1955) - Arthur Lee
- Jumping for Joy (1956) - Bert Benton
- Bhowani Junction (1956) - Lt. Graham McDaniel
- The Baby and the Battleship (1956) - George
- Eyewitness (1956) - Man in Pub
- Lust for Life (1956) - Dr. Peyron
- High Terrace (1956) - Monkton
- Up in the World (1957) - Wilson
- The Man in the Sky (1957) - Keith
- Doctor at Large (1957) - Dr. Hatchet
- Hour of Decision (1957) - Elvin Main
- The Vicious Circle (1957) - Geoffrey Windsor
- Barnacle Bill (1957) - Garrod
- Blue Murder at St Trinian's (1957) - Joe Mangan
- Dunkirk (1958) - Colonel - Medical Officer
- Charles and Mary (1958 TV movie) - George Dyer
- Up the Creek (1958) - Steady Barker
- The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) - Fritz
- Law and Disorder (1958) - Major Proudfoot
- Orders to Kill (1958) - Interrogator
- Girls at Sea (1958) - Harry, the Tourist
- Behind the Mask (1958) - Walter Froy
- Further Up the Creek (1958) - Steady Barker
- Nowhere to Go (1958) - Pet Shop Clerk (uncredited)
- Idle on Parade (1959) - Bertie
- The Nun's Story (1959) - Dr. Goovaerts
- Bobbikins (1959) - Gregory Mason
- Please Turn Over (1959) - Ian Howard
- Two-Way Stretch (1960) - Chief P.O. Crout
- Jazz Boat (1960) - Sergeant Thompson
- Life is a Circus (1960) - Genie
- Let's Get Married (1960) - Marsh
- The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960) - John Sholto Douglas, Marquis of Queensberry
- Tarzan the Magnificent (1960) - Ames
- Fanny (1961) - Monsieur Brun (The Englishman)
- The Hellions (1961) - Luke Billings
- Operation Snatch (1962) - Evans
- Mrs. Gibbon's Boys (1962) - Lester Gibbons
- The Notorious Landlady (1962) - Inspector Oliphant
- Kill or Cure (1962) - Det. Insp. Hook
- The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963) - Inspector Fred 'Nosey' Parker
- Call me Bwana (1963) - Ezra
- The Scarlet Blade (1963) - Col. Judd
- The Long Ships (1964) - Aziz
- First Men in the Moon (1964) - Cavor / Joseph Cavor
- Murder Ahoy! (1964) - Captain Sydney De Courcy Rhumstone
- The Truth About Spring (1965) - 'Cark' / Cark
- You Must Be Joking! (1965) - Sgt. Maj. McGregor
- The Secret of My Success (1965) - Insp. Hobart / Baron von Lukenberg / The Earl of Aldershot / President Esteda
- The Spy with a Cold Nose (1966) - Stanley Farquhar
- Drop Dead Darling (1966) - Parker
- Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad (1967) - Airport Commander
- Camelot (1967) - King Pellinore
- Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon (1967) - Sir Charles Dillworthy
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) - Grandpa Potts
- 12 + 1 (1969) - Randomhouse
- Twinky (1970) - Solicitor
- Eyewitness (1970) - Grandpa
- Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1972) - Inspector Ralph Willoughby
- Royal Flash (1975) - Kraftstein
- What Changed Charley Farthing? (1976) - Houlihan
- Wombling Free (1978) - Womble (voice)
- The Prisoner of Zenda (1979) - General Sapt
- Cream in My Coffee (1980 TV movie) - Bernard Wilsher
- Better Late Than Never (1983) - Bertie Hargreaves
- Abel's Island (1988 short) - Gower (voice)
- Danny, the Champion of the World (1989 TV movie) - Mr. Snoddy
- A Chorus of Disapproval (1989) - Jarvis Huntley-Pike
- First and Last (1989 TV movie) - Laurence
- Ending Up (1989 TV movie) - Shorty
- Jekyll & Hyde (1990 TV movie) - Jekyll's Father
- Heaven on Earth (1998 TV movie) - Isaac Muller
As writer or director
- The Railway Children (1970) - director and screenwriter
- The Amazing Mr Blunden (1972) - director and screenwriter
- Baxter! (1973) - director
- Wombling Free (1977) - director and screenwriter
- The Water Babies (1978) - director and additional material writer
- Nelson's Touch (1979 short) - screenwriter
- "Actor and director Lionel Jeffries dies, aged 83". BBC. 19 February 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2010.
- Gray, Sadie (20 February 2010). "Obituary The Times". London. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- Barker, Dennis (20 February 2010). "Obituary The Guardian". London. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- Hayward, Anthony (20 February 2010). "Obituary The Independent". London. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- Obituary New York Times, 20 February 2010.
- "Lionel Jeffries - Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. London. 19 February 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2010.
- "Actor and director Lionel Jeffries dies, aged 83". BBC News. 19 February 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- Paton, Maureen (28 January 2012). "Dad was too much to compete with". The Guardian.
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