Prudence and Marius on his 75th birthday
Prudence Fitzgerald Goring 3.jpg
Peter Ustinov, Prudence Goring, Marius Goring and Prince Edward

Picture right: Niki Cardiff and Prudence Goring attending the ITV Global Entertainment & The Film Foundations cocktail party celebrating the "World Premiere of the Restoration of Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger's The Red Shoes" during the 62nd International Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 2009 in Cannes, France. The large gold signet ring with the blue stone that Prudence is wearing belonged to Marius.

Later Life

 

In 1976, Marius's wife, Lucie, died unexpectedly in a sanatorium in Bad Harzburg, Germany. Although she had apparently expressed a wish to be buried in England, she was interred in Germany at the Ohlsdorfer Friedhof Cemetery in Hamburg, the second largest cemetery in the world. There are many famous Germans buried there, including quite a number from the performing arts community.

The next year Marius married television director/producer Prudence FitzGerald, who had directed him in many episodes of The Expert. They were married in a civil ceremony at the Richmond registry office (as his first wife was still living). One of the witnesses at their marriage was Odette Hallowes, the same Odette whose life and wartime exploits were recounted in the 1950 film 'Odette', in which Marius had co-starred. They also celebrated their union with a marriage blessing ceremony at St Peter's, West Molesley, an Anglican church near their home at Hampton Court.

Marius Re Goring and Prudence Mary Fitzgerlald Marriage Certificate 1977

They lived together in a Grade II listed 17th century house 'Middle Court' which overlooked The Green across from Hampton Court Palace. They later moved to another listed 17th century house in the village of Rushlake Green in East Sussex.

Marius was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1979 and appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1991.

 

He died from stomach cancer in 1998 aged 86 at his home in Rushlake Green, East Sussex, survived by his wife, Prudence and daughter, Phyllida.

Marius Goring Death Certificate 30 September 1998

He is buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Warbleton, East Sussex near Rushlake Green. His wife, Prudence, who died in 2018, is buried with him.

Niki Cardiff and Prudence Goring.jpg
Marius Goring Obituary in The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph 1998

 

MARIUS GORING. Actor excelled as a villain.

 

Marius Goring built his reputation on the British stage where he was a distinguished interpreter of Shakespeare; but on the screen he was cast instead in a series of roles as villainous Nazis and homicidal maniacs. It was Mr. Goring's misfortune to have the haughty countenance and smooth manner suggestive to film producers of Germanic types. He was able, too, to hint at cold danger lurking beneath a genial manner, and among the many films he appeared in to good effect as a Nazi was I Was Monty's Double (1958), as the Nazi spy invited to dinner at Gibraltar to meet the sham general. He was also in Pastor Hall (1940) as a storm trooper in an early film by the Boulting brothers, and Ill Met By Moonlight (1956), as the German governor of Crete kidnapped by dashing commando Dirk Bogarde. Mr. Goring fared better in other films by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, most notably The Red Shoes (1948). Cast against type as a romantic lead, he played the composer vying with tyrannical impresario Anton Walbrook for a ballerina. He also played the powdered and periwigged Conductor 71 in A Matter of Life and Death (1946), leading David Niven up a moving staircase to heaven. Mr. Goring spent his career closely involved in Equity, the actors' union, of which he had been a founding member in 1929. He was its vice-president in the '60s and '70s and fought to keep it from being dominated by the Workers' Revolutionary Party. Mr. Goring twice went to court to ensure funds could not be donated to political causes and that decisions could only be taken after a referendum of members. He also tried to stop Equity's policy of preventing British programs being shown in South Africa, so denying actors fees. But Mr. Goring was not, as some believed, a blimpish figure. As a child he had spent every Christmas with his black Jamaican godfather, and hoped to take She Stoops to Conquer, a play about position in society, to South Africa with an all-black cast. "My concern is to protect actors' and actresses' welfare," he said, "I don't give a damn who's Left or Right". Marius Goring was born of Anglo-Scots parentage at Newport, Isle of Wight, in 1912. He made his first professional stage appearance at age 15 in 1927. He then briefly attended the universities of Frankfurt, Vienna, Paris and Munich before studying at the Old Vic dramatic school from 1929 to 1932. From 1932 to 1934 he was a stage-manager at the Old Vic and was called in at short notice, aged 20, to play Romeo to Peggy Ashcroft's Juliet. In the mid-'30s, Mr. Goring forged a formidable reputation in London's West End as a reliable player of foils and second leads. In Twelfth Night at the Old Vic in 1937, with Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness, critic Herbert Farjeon thought Mr. Goring's Feste "immeasurably the best thing—a worn clown, stark, tragic like a stab in the heart of fun. Never have I seen the baiting of Malvolio in prison better or more mercilessly done." Mr. Goring enlisted in the Queen's Royal Regiment in 1939, but spent much of the war working in propaganda. In 1939 he had been highly convincing as the voice of Hitler in a radio series, The Shadow of the Swastika, and from 1941 he was seconded to the Foreign Office. There he supervised BBC news programs broadcast to Germany. From the mid-'50s, Mr. Goring concentrated on Shakespearean roles. He was appointed CBE in 1991. He was 86.

The New York Times 6 October 1998

 

Marius Goring, a British Actor, Is Dead at 86

By Ralph Blumenthal

Marius Goring, a British actor who played Shakespearean villains and Nazi officers and stole Moira Shearer's heart in the classic ballet film, 'The Red Shoes', died on Wednesday at his home in the West Sussex county of England. He was 86 and had cancer, the BBC reported.

 

Although long known for his classical roles, Mr. Goring achieved his greatest popular success in the 1960s and 70s as the star of the BBC series 'The Expert', in which he played a flamboyantly red-bearded forensic scientist who hunted criminals with a microscope.

 

Earlier he starred in another British television series as the Scarlet Pimpernel.

 

He appeared in so many World War II movies that he claimed to have played every rank in the German Army from private to field marshal. The mostly forgettable films included 'U-Boat 29' (1939) with Conrad Veidt; 'Pastor Hall' (1940), based on the story of the anti-Nazi minister, the Rev. Martin Niemöller; 'Odette' (1950) with Anna Neagle, Trevor Howard and Peter Ustinov; 'Circle of Danger' (1951) with Ray Milland; 'So Little Time' (1952) with Maria Schell, and 'Night Ambush' (1957) with Dirk Bogarde.

 

In 1954 he joined the all-star cast of Ava Gardner, Humphrey Bogart, Rossano Brazzi and Edmond O'Brien in 'The Barefoot Contessa', in which he played a South American wastrel.

 

His cinematic peak may have come in 1948 with 'The Red Shoes', the British retelling of a Hans Christian Andersen fable still widely regarded as the greatest dance movie ever made. An early Technicolor feature, the film cast Mr. Goring as Julian Craster, the young composer who presents a romantic distraction to the dance-bewitched ballerina.

 

His next starring role came in another British film, 'Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill', in which he played a foolish mathematics professor laid low by love.

 

His notable stage roles included Richard III in 1958 and Angelo in 'Measure for Measure', with the Royal Shakespeare Theater in Stratford-on-Avon in 1962.

 

Mr. Goring was born on the Isle of Wight in 1912. His mother was a pianist and his father a doctor and criminologist.

 

He attended universities in Europe and studied theater at the Old Vic dramatic school.

During World War II he made British propaganda broadcasts to Germany and provided the voice of Hitler in an anti-Nazi radio serial, 'The Shadow of the Swastika'.

 

A founding member of the actors' union, Equity, he long opposed efforts to involve it in political causes, whether miners' strikes, the troubles in Northern Ireland or South African apartheid.

 

He is survived by his third wife, the former Prudence Fitzgerald.​

Marius & Prudence Goring Headstone

Marius Goring and Prudence Fitzgerald Goring Headstone

St Mary the Virgin Churchyard, Warbleton, East Sussex, England

MG Memorial Notice.jpg

The Guardian 1 December 1998

Obituaries

 

The Guardian Friday October 2 1998

by Eric Shorter

 

Marius Goring. Quixotic actor for all reasons.

 

MARIUS Goring, who has died aged 86, was an actor, manager, director, producer, adapter, scriptwriter and, in old age, a doughty litigant. To each he brought an almost quixotic zest. From the pre-war strolling European player and Old Vic Shakespearean to the sideline in golden-haired sexual perverts and blue-eyed homicidal maniacs, he had a foot in both theatrical camps, artistic and commercial, classical and contemporary, romantic and sinister. A highbrow? No one had a greater love of poetry and how to read it for others' pleasure. He also understood Ibsen, Chekhov, Gogol and Shaw, as well as Granville Barker; and was something of a linguist in his ability to act in France or Germany the masterpieces of either nation in its native language, first with the legendary Compagnie des Quinze, which he had seen as a Cambridge schoolboy and vowed one day to join, and later with the German actress Lucie Mannheim, his second wife, banished by Hitler and brought by Goring to London to play the classics and make films. It was of course his work in the commercial theatre—his nervous frenzies and macabre charm in thrillers and whodunnits, his films and television series which enabled Goring to pursue his own artistic fancy. Goring was not of German descent, despite the belief of many admirers who had witnessed his villainous screen Nazis and his 1940 radio portrayal of Hitler in Shadow of the Swastika. He was born at Newport, Isle of Wight, the son of a distinguished doctor and criminologist and of a notable pianist, and educated at the Perse School, Cambridge, and at Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna and Paris universities. As a 12-year-old in 1925 Goring had acted with Angela Baddeley in Walter de la Mare's Crossings, and was acquainted with Harcourt Williams who let him into the Old Vic as a spear-carrier during the school holidays. "I wanted him to join as a student", wrote Williams, "but for some reason Lilian Baylis did not want him. So I smuggled him into Julius Caesar when we had some students from London University to swell the crowd, and he stayed with us, and finished by playing Romeo to Peggy Ashcroft's first Juliet”—several seasons before Olivier and Gielgud famously alternated the parts. Meanwhile, Goring had toured Europe with the English Classical Players, and as Cardinal Campeius to Charles Laughton's Henry VIII gave, according to James Agate, "very nearly the best performance in the play". It was at the Vic that Goring got his first West End part when The Voysey Inheritance transferred to the Shaftesbury in 1934. At the end of its run he fulfilled his boyhood dream of joining the idealistic, star-defying, roving Compagnie des Quinze to act Hamlet (in French) and other plays on the Continent under its director Michel Saint-Denis. Persuading Saint-Denis to return with him to London to direct himself and Gielgud in Andre Obey's Noah in 1935, Goring did the state of British theatre some service. Saint-Denis's avant-garde influence, though irksome to the Philistines, was to endure through the second world war at the BBC and into the 1960s with Peter Hall's Royal Shakespeare Company. Saint-Denis, Goring and George Devine co-founded in 1936 the London Theatre Studio. Some 13 years later it became the Old Vic Centre, a source of many of our most interesting players until its controversial closure in the 1950s. At the Old Vic "the ardent young actor with the flaming hair" as Tyrone Guthrie called him continued to win golden opinions as Hamlet, Frank Thorney in The Witch of Edmonton ("first-class tragic passion"), Feste in Twelfth Night ("immeasurably the best thing...a born clown, stark, tragic, like a stab in the heart of fun") and Chorus to Olivier's Henry V ("superb word-handling"). Acting "arrestingly well" as First Player and Osric in Gielgud's Lyceum Hamlet, Goring part-directed (with Devine) Gielgud's Prospero and himself stole many a notice as Ariel, "compounded equally of earth and air with a quick, quivering poise of the head that belonged neither to bird nor man but to some weird immortal spirit imprisoned in mortal toils and painfully eager to be free". During the war Goring wanted to be a spy using his French and German but British intelligence turned him down, perhaps because of his natural gift for looking the part. In the end, the Foreign office sent him to the BBC to supervise programmes to Germany, and it was his Hitler in Shadow of the Swastika, the first wartime programme, that sowed the suspicion that he was German; and he did have a German wife. He was also good at suave-looking villains of any nationality, fey types and decadent aristocrats. There were films like The Case of the Frightened Lady, A Matter of Life and Death, The Red Shoes, Odette, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman and Ill Met By Moonlight. But he never lost his love for the stage; and if he did not become the eminent Shakespearean suggested by his Macbeth, Hamlet and Romeo his ability to create atmosphere round a role (Angelo in Measure for Measure) or feyness (the Fool in King Lear) set him apart. He could also be engagingly flamboyant (as for example television's Sir Percy Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel); and was one of the few actors who could play an intellectual with conviction or a knowledgeable medico (as the pathologist, Dr Keith Simpson, in the series The Expert) or an ironic Hanoverian (as George V in Edward and Mrs Simpson). If the evocation of Henry Irving in The Bells (1968) was a failure when he brought it to the West End, it was an impressive, heroic failure as it assuredly had not seemed on its try-out at the Derby Playhouse under better stage-management. Goring never gave up easily. If he believed in a thing he fought to verify his faith. And he believed, above all, in the theatre's power to stir the spectator as can no other medium when it is at the top of its form. Hence the continuity of his work on tour or in the West End including three years in the two-hander Sleuth and the particular pride he took at 75 at Canterbury Cathedral in a cycle of medieval mystery plays in which he felt old enough to play God. He was older still when he battled with the left in Equity, the actors' trade union which he had co-founded in 1929 and he was twice its vice-president. He fought the union over three decades because it refused to lift its ban on the sale of TV and radio shows to South Africa. The legal costs nearly bankrupted him. His first marriage was dissolved, his second wife, Lucie, predeceased him, he is survived by his third wife, Prudence, and a daughter from his first marriage.

The Scottish Herald 3 October 1998

Marius Goring, actor; born May 23, 1912, died September 30, 1998

 

Marius Goring, the actor with the gentle touch who has died at the age of 86, had strong connections with Scotland. His mother, a musician, was brought up in Glasgow, and the first time he came to the city it was to be reunited with the lady who was to become his third wife, Prudence Fitzgerald.

Her grandfather had been a doctor in Glasgow, and at the time of the reunion she was directing the BBC series Dr Finlay's Casebook. When Goring was starring in the TV series The Expert - arguably the role for which he was best known - the adviser and real ''expert'' was Professor John Glaister of Glasgow University, with whom he reportedly struck up a strong friendship.

 

Marius Goring was born at Newport, Isle of Wight and, after attending school in Cambridge he went on to the universities of Frankfurt and Munich (where he became fluent in German) before attending the Old Vic drama school. Later he toured Germany as an actor. In the darkest days of the war, he was on a Nazi hit-list because he was making broadcasts to Germany, set up by the Foreign Office, as an antidote to William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw).

 

He was an actor, producer, and director who never achieved so-called ''superstar'' status, but was extremely influential in his theatrical career and had a more than respectable track record in cinema. He appeared in such film classics as A Matter of Life and Death (1946), The Red Shoes (1948), Ill Met by Moonlight (1956), and I Was Monty's Double (1958). He appeared over the years with all the greats: Gielgud, Olivier, Guinness, and Mills and was no stranger to television: The Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Edward and Mrs Simpson and The Expert. He was renowned for his long association with actors' union Equity, as a founder member and two-times vice-president.

The Stage 8 October 1998

by Patrick Newley

Marius Goring, who died on September 30, aged 86, was one of Britain's most respected actors and had an astonishingly long and varied career which encompassed stage, film and television performances. His first love and commitment was to the theatre, and he was widely regarded, with his flamboyant acting technique, to be of 'the old school' and on several occasions was compared to Olivier and Wolfit.

 

Born on May 23, 1912, on the Isle of Wight, he had a distinguished education at no less than four universities - Munich, Frankfurt, Vienna and Paris - before studying for the stage under the tutorship of Harcourt Williams and the Old Vic. In 1925, he was at the ADC theatre in Cambridge, but his West End debut was in 1934, in Granville Barker's The Voysey Inheritance at the Shaftesbury Theatre. He was to campaign against the venue's demolition in later years.

At the age of 20, he carved his way to theatrical fame by playing Romeo opposite Peggy Ashcroft's Juliet at the Old Vic. During the thirties, he became a well known character and supporting performer in the West End, notably in Twelfth Night with Olivier and Alec Guinness. Later, he appeared in other Shakespearian roles such as Fortinbras, Osric and Sebastian. In 1939, he directed Nora, based on A Doll's House by Ibsen, at the Duke of York's.

 

During the war, he served in the Army and was involved with propaganda work for the Foreign Office, broadcasting to Germany until 1945. For a period, his stage work was in decline but he then turned to cinema where he scored immediate success.

 

Films such as A Matter of Life and Death (1946) with David Niven and The Red Shoes (1948) put him into the 'star' category (which he was sometimes embarrassed by) and he became known for his offbeat and quirky portrayals of either fey or psychotic characters. Other films were Odette, Pandora and The Flying Dutchman, The Magic Box, The Man Who Watched Trains Go By and Rough Shoot. In 1990, Goring said of his forties and fifties film career: "It was a period of immense vitality, invention and drive, which came from the big leaders of the film industry in those days. I had a contract with Rank during that time. I can't say I think much of my later films. I've done some television work I've enjoyed for example - The Old Men at The Zoo - much more than most of my films". 

 

The fifties saw him lead the Shakespeare Memorial Company in Stratford-upon-Avon in Anthony and Cleopatra, King Lear and, in 1953, Richard III - a towering performance that led one critic to describe it as "an immediate on-sight aspect of deranged infamy - his face puffed and womanish, lank red hair to his chest, his rapid speech suggesting fiend's anger, darting brain". In 1968, under his own management, he brought The Bells to the West End, a play that had once been a success for Sir Henry Irving. Critics were not kind, or indeed the public, but the BBC series The Expert made him a household name. The series ran from 1968 until 1970. He was back in the West End for a Iong run of Sleuth in the eighties and was at Canterbury in 1986 for The Mystery Plays.

 

For many years, Goring was probably one of the most outspoken members of Equity, determined to keep the union apolitical but a vociferous opponent of its stance on working in South Africa. He was also a regular letter writer to The Stage and The Times. In later years, he became worried that his stance on such union matters would overshadow his acting career. Fortunately, for anyone who had the pleasure of working with him or watching him on stage or screen, this would never be the case. Goring was an actor of great skill and charm and will be admired and remembered for that above all.

 

He was appointed a CBE for his services to the profession in 1991.

 

Goring married Mary Westwood Steel in 1931 who bore him a daughter. After the marriage was dissolved he wed Lucie Mannheim in 1941. She died in 1976 and one year later Goring married Prudence Fitzgerald who survives him.

 

Nigel Davenport writes:

 

I first became acquainted with Marius at Stratford in 1953, and I watched how he tackled great Shakespearean roles with a panache and ebullience that exceeded, I felt, that of his talented peers. His many films and television appearances bear witness to that energy. Later, I was struck by the enthusiasm that sparkled from his brilliant blue eyes and the incisiveness of his mind.

 

But it was not until the seventies that I got to know him well. The issue that brought us together was Equity, in which he was deeply involved and had been ever since being a founding member in 1930. In the early seventies, the efficient running of the union had been brought almost to a standstill by political factions whose aim was to take over its control. These factors were small in number but big in influence - while the members dozed in apathy, unaware that their union was in danger of being hijacked. So bad was it, that a group of us contemplated forming a break-away union, free of politicising. Marius strenuously opposed this - to fight for the union you must fight from within. So we did - none fought harder that he. His fights to protect the referendum took him to the highest courts in the land.

 

To do so, he had literally to risk everything that he owned, on behalf of his fellow actors, he was tigerish on their behalf - a very brave man and a great and valued friend.

The Times of London, 2 October 1998

​Marius Goring’s acting on stage led to popularity in The Expert on television. As a member of Equity he was determined to keep the union apolitical

 

Marius Goring, CBE, actor, died on September 30 aged 86. He was born on May 23, 1912.

 

Marius Goring enjoyed his greatest popular successes on television, as the Scarlet Pimpernel on ITV in the 1950s and as the bearded forensic scientist in the BBC series The Expert a decade later. In more recent years his acting attracted rather less attention than his running battle with the actor’s union Equity over what he saw as its unjustified involvement in politics. Nevertheless, it is as an authentically grand old man of the stage that he deserves to be remembered, one of the last extravagant links with an altogether less inhibited theatrical age.

   On stage, Marius Goring probably never gave a more memorable performance than as Shakespeare’s Richard III in 1958. By then he was already known in films for his feverish brilliance in playing neurotics, the guilt-wracked and the plain mad, as well as for the speed of his effects: in one movie he proposed to Ava Gardner, was rejected and died on the spot, all in about two minutes. He worked just as fast to give his Richard an immediate on-sight aspect of deranged infamy — his face puffed and womanish, lank red hair to his chest, his rapid speech suggesting a fiend’s eager, darting brain. Lacking Laurence Olivier’s great voice, he was more loathsome than terrible in the role, but the fascination of the the truly wicked was his life. He had been a natural choice to play Hilter in the radio series The Shadow of the Swastika, an early BBC contribution to the war effort, in 1939.

   Before specialising, rather too often, in such roles, Goring had been known in the profession as a gifted enthusiast with flaming hair. He was born on the Isle of Wight. His mother was a pianist, his father a doctor and Home Office criminologist with a passion for the music hall. After the Perse School, Cambridge, he attended the universities of Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna and Paris, before studying acting under Harcourt Williams and at the Old Vic schools. His languages would later qualify him to play Hamlet in French for the touring Compagnie des Quinze, and to speak in Berlin dialect in a German revue.

   He had acted for the first time on stage at the ADC in Cambridge in 1925, and made his first professional appearence as Harlequin in one of Jean Stirling Mackinlay’s matinees at the Rudolf Steiner Hall in 1927. His West End debut came as Hugh Voysey in Granville Barker’s The Voysey Inheritance at the Shaftesbury in 1934.  

    Goring was rarely at his best in less flamboyant roles on stage. As Romeo opposite Peggy Ashcroft’s Juliet, critics agreed that he was, in his own words, “rather callow and immature”. Before the war he became reliable casting for Shakespeare’s awkward squad — Fortinbras, Macduff, Feste, Osric, Sebastian.

   He joined the Army in 1939, but the Foreign Office transferred him to work with Dick Crossman and Hugh Greene in broadcasting to Germany until 1945. Subsequently, his stage career disappointed. His rigid Octavius in Antony and Cleopatra (1953) failed to discover the burgeoning Augustus in the man, while his Angelo in Measure for Measure (1962) emerged as a dehumanised casebook study of a lust-driven ascetic.

   In a determined but misjudged effort to display his tragic potential, he brought to London a revival of The Bells (1968), Henry Irving’s great hit. Goring himself also presented and directed this tale of a murderer tortured by his conscience, but both critics and public found his twisted features and huge haunted eyes something less than mesmerising. In later years, he was often seen in touring productions of West End successes.

   But while his stage career dwindled, he discovered a world elsewhere. His notable films included The Red Shoes (1948), and supporting parts in vehicles for Dirk Bogarde or David Niven. And soon the huge television audience was noting him with approval. He was reliable, versatile, and always slightly larger than life. As well as the Scarlet Pimpernel he impersonated George V in Thames’s soap opera Edward and Mrs Simpson, but he achieved nationwide fame as the wonder-working mystery man in the BBC’s series The Expert, as a forensic scientist bedecked with with his own red beard, who traced criminals from dust in trouser turn-ups. Goring had to grow his beard again when the series proved popular enough for further episodes to be made.

   In later years Goring feared that he would be remembered not for his acting but for his role in the courts fighting Equity. A founder member of the union in 1929, he joined its council in 1949, and was its vice-president from 1963 to 1965 and again from 1975 to 1982. Convinced that politics and art must remain separate, and that Equity had no business dictating to its members in matters of morality or ethics, in the 1970s he took the lead in opposing the influential left-wing group within the union, whose most prominent representatives were probably Vanessa and Corin Redgrave.

   Through court action Goring managed to quash a plan to send funds to support striking miners, insisting that Equity should be non-political. He took a union resolution backing the withdrawal of troops from Northern Ireland to the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords, who supported his contention that militant minorities should not dictate to the majority. In 1986 he succeeded in his legal challenge to Equity’s ban on actors working in South Africa; but he failed in a subsequent attempt to overturn its boycott of radio and television sales to the apartheid regime, and almost went bankrupt in the process.

   If not litigious, Goring enjoyed, half-humourously, being the first to cry “God fordbid” in print; he was an enthusiastic writer of letters to The Times. When not acting, or else skating or riding, he would be snoozing at the Garrick Club until he leapt up to buttonhole a supporter for his latest good cause. With equal enthusiasm he spoke up, loudly, for the freedom of the BBC, or to protect Hampton Court’s lime-trees from the axe, or comedians’ jokes from the plagiarist. He spearheaded a successful battle to stop the demolition of the Shaftesbury Theatre. Nevertheless, his best performances were on the stage, even when they fell a little below what his admirers expected of them. He was appointed CBE for his services to the theatre in 1991. 

   His first marriage to Mary Westwood Steel, by whom he had a daughter, was dissolved. The second was to Lucie Mannheim, a German refugee actress, who predeceased him in 1976. In 1977 he married his third wife, Prudence FitzGerald, who survives him.