Monday 20 May 2013

John Bluthal

Actor John Bluthal in the ITC series 'Man In A Suitcase'

John Bluthal: 

† Aug 4 1929 – Nov 15 2018

It's pretty likely that much loved actor John Bluthal is mostly recognised by the recent generation of TV viewers for his portrayal of Frank, the sensitive, elderly, gay parishioner of 'The Vicar of Dibley'. To older viewers he is unmistakable as one of Spike Milligan's mischievous cronies from his 'Q' series (see also: Keith Smith; Sheila Steafel) or possibly as Manny Cohen, the archetypal Jewish tailor from the long-running sitcom 'Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width'. 
As Frank in 'The Vicar of Dibley'
In fact, the tailor schtick was to prove a bit of a recurring theme (see: Solly Salmon in 'Minder', and similar turns in 'Allo Allo' and 'Super Gran', not to mention 'Carry On Don't Lose your Head'). Of Polish Jewish heritage, he has been called upon to portray an extensive range of ethnicities, particularly during the pre-correctness years of British TV: Pakistani, Italian, Greek, Irish, American, Indian, Russian, and many more. It's helped him rack up a phenomenal list of classic TV credits: Comedies from 'Hancock', 'Sykes' and 'The Goodies' to 'Not Only But Also' and 'One Foot In The Grave'; dramas like 'The Saint', 'The Avengers', 'The Baron' and 'Man In A Suitcase' from the cult TV era, through to the post-'80s plod of 'Morse', 'Bergerac', 'Casualty' and 'The Life and Loves of a She-Devil'.

Bluthal was the voice of Commander Zero in Gerry Anderson's 'Fireball XL-5' and also the voice of HBX Belgrade in the Hancock episode 'The Radio Ham'. 

In 'Doctor Down Under'

With Spike Milligan in Q7

In the cinema, his talents were on show in 'The Mouse in the Moon' (1963), the kitchen-sink classic 'This Is My Street' (1964), 'Help!' (1965), 'The Knack' (1965), 'Casino Royale' (1967), 'Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River' (1968), 'The Bliss of Mrs Blossom' (1969), The Return of the Pink Panther' (1975), and 'The Fifth Element' (1997). 

With Leo McKern in 'Help!' (1965)

"A licence for my… minkey?" 'The Return of the Pink Panther' (1975)

John Bluthal - imdb


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  2. Sad to report that Mr Bluthal is no longer "still with us". He passed away yesterday - November 15, 2018 - at the age of 89.