Richard Vernon

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Richard Vernon
Colonel Smithers by Richard Vernon.jpg
Richard Vernon in Goldfinger (1964)
Born Richard Evelyn Vernon
(1925-03-07)7 March 1925
Reading, Berkshire, England
Died 4 December 1997(1997-12-04) (aged 72)
Richmond, London, England
Cause of death Complications from Parkinson's disease
Occupation Actor
Years active 1949—96

Richard Vernon (7 March 1925 – 4 December 1997) was a British actor.[1] He appeared in many feature films and television programmes, often in aristocratic or supercilious roles. Prematurely balding and greying, Vernon settled into playing archetypal middle-aged lords and military types while still in his 30s.

Early life[edit]

He was educated at Reading School and Leighton Park School (both in Reading, Berkshire) and during the Second World War served in the Royal Navy. Vernon trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama.[2]


In 1960, Vernon appeared in an adaptation of A.J. Cronin's novel, The Citadel. In 1961, he played the father in the BBC series, Stranger on the Shore, famous for Acker Bilk's hit theme song. An early leading role was as wartime agent-turned-criminologist Edwin Oldenshaw in the TV series The Man in Room 17 (1965–66) and its sequel The Fellows (1967). He also played a small role as Colonel Smithers, an executive of the Bank of England, in a scene opposite Sean Connery and Bernard Lee in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger, discussing how Auric Goldfinger transports his gold overseas.

He is remembered for his parts as the unnamed 'city gent' reluctantly sharing a train compartment with the Beatles in A Hard Day's Night, the planetary designer Slartibartfast (designer of fjords) in the BBC radio and TV series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as Sir James Greenley ("C") in The Sandbaggers, as Lord Salisbury in Edward the Seventh, as Major Toby Smith-Barton in The Duchess of Duke Street, as the Duke of Broughton in Nanny, as the occasional character Sir Desmond Glazebrook in the TV series Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, and as Mr Becket in Sammy's Super T-Shirt. He also appeared in the 1965 Morecambe and Wise film The Intelligence Men as patron of the arts Sir Edward Seabrook, Lord Bartelsham in Ripping Yarns, and Squire Dale in the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of The Small House at Allington. He played Admiral Croft in the 1971 BBC television adaptation of Persuasion. In 1986 he appeared in Paradise Postponed, and voiced the professor Gus in The Giddy Game Show (1985-7). He also appeared in the final episode of the BBC's television production of Rumpole of the Bailey (1992) as Rumpole's exculpatory dentist, Lionel Leering, and in the last series of Lovejoy (1994) playing Tinker's brother-in-law.

On radio, in 1978 he played Sir Gerald Tarrant in a BBC World Service adaptation of the Modesty Blaise book Last Day in Limbo and Professor Misty in the BBC Radio 3 sitcom Patterson in 1981. He also starred in the title role of Lord Emsworth in several BBC Radio 4 series of Blandings between 1985 and 1992.

His final film appearance was a cameo at the end of the family film Loch Ness, which was released in 1996.


He died of complications from Parkinson's disease on 4 December 1997.



  1. ^ "Richard Vernon". Retrieved 7 December 2016. 
  2. ^ "Obituary: Richard Vernon". 13 December 1997. Retrieved 7 December 2016. 

External links[edit]