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Bernard Spear


Bernard Spear, prolific Brit character actor who boasted parts in radio, TV, film and London legit, died May 9 in Sutton, England. He was 83.

Croydon, England, native served three years in the Royal Artillery, stationed in Gibraltar, where he became a popular disc jockey. After the war, he spent a year as house manager at Woolwich’s Granada Theater before becoming resident comedian at the Windmill Theatre in Soho.

In 1955, he debuted in the West End in the Leonard Bernstein musical “Wonderful Town.” The next year, he toured in “Irish Rose” and also appeared in the musical “Plain and Fancy.” In 1960-61 he worked with Van Johnson in “The Music Man,” which was followed by two years in “How To Succeed In Business,” and then “Little Me.” Many other stagings followed including “Hello, Dolly!,” “Man of la Mancha,” “Promises Promises” and David Mamet production of “Duck Variations.” Later stage roles included “Mother Courage,” “The White Guard” and Harold Pinter’s “Night School.”

He essayed more than 300 radio and TV roles including Henry Hall’s “Guest Night” and “Worker’s Playtime.” In 1955, he was the first actor to appear live on British commercial TV — the “Xavier Cugat Show” — having made his TV debut on the BBC’s “Rooftop Rendezvous” in 1950. Other TV roles included ones in “Ghost Squad,” “Scotland Yard,” “Quatermass and the Pit,” and “Maigret.”

Film credits include “Bedazzled” (1967), “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (1968), “The Adventures of Barry McKenzie” (1972), “Yentl” (1983), and his final perf, “The Man Who Cried” (2000).

Featured in Thames TV’s “Never Mind the Quality” (1968-71), Spear went on to star in his own Thames series “My Son Reuben” (1975).

He is survived by his wife, ex-dancer Mary Logan (Marie Lloyd’s great-niece), and their son.

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