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Charles Hawtrey

1914 - 1988

Charles HawtreyBorn George Frederick Joffre Hartree on 30th November 1914 in Hounslow, Middlesex, England, into a theatrical family (although his father was a motor mechanic), he started acting at an early age. He studied at the Italia Conti acting school for three years as a child before turning professional and securing a variety of junior roles. His first appearance was playing an urchin in "The Windmill Man" in Boscombe when only eleven years old. Following his appearance in "Bluebell In Fairyland" at London's Scala Theatre, a string of other contracts evolved.

In 1925, less than three years after the death of the celebrated Edwardian actor / manager Sir Charles Hawtrey to whom he was no relation, George adopted the stage name Charles Hawtrey. From his radio appearances, which began in 1929, he managed to start working alongside some of the big names of the day including the famous Will Hay. His portrayal of Slightly in "Peter Pan" in 1931 was commended by the Daily Telegraph's drama critic as showing "a comedy sense not unworthy of his famous name." A string of film appearances and theatrical engagements (along with many impressive reviews) kept Charles busy throughout the thirties, forties, and into the fifties.

In 1957 Hawtrey appeared in the TV series "The Army Game" with Bernard Bresslaw ("Well, I only arsked!") and William Hartnell. It was a smash hit guaranteeing him a similar role in the first of the "Carry On" films the following year, "Carry On Sergeant". It is probably for his "Carry On" appearances that most people today remember Charles Hawtrey. He appeared in twenty-three of them (known affectionately by the cast and crew as "coco shunter" because of his aversion to chocolate), but there was so much more to his long and impressive career that we could not possibly do it full justice here.

Charles Hawtrey always kept his social life private. He never married, and many suppose that away from his work he was lonely. After leaving the "Carry On" series of films in 1973, because they wouldn't give him the higher billing that he believed he deserved, he went into semi-retirement living in an old smuggler's cottage near the seafront in Deal, Kent. He had suffered with arthritis for a number of years and it was becoming more acute. There were a few cameo appearances, but mainly he led a reclusive life in his cottage. It was from there in 1984 that he had to be dramatically rescued when a fire broke out.

By September 1988 the arthritis had become so severe that Charles was told by his doctors that his legs would have to be amputated if they were to save his life. He refused to have the operation and died just one month later.

Charles Hawtrey had a natural campness to his character, one that he explored to the limits in his career. It served him well and has possibly made him irreplaceable. He was frequently known to burst into outrageous humour, speaking in a type of language that few could understand. His close friend Joan Sims was one of the few who apparently could understand him. Was it some kind of Polari? We don't know. His recreational activities included collecting antiques and playing the piano. The latter must have become very difficult and distressing as his arthritic illness progressed.

More on Charles Hawtrey:

Carry On Abroad, 1973 Eustace Tuttle.
Charles HawtreyCarry On Matron, 1972 Dr Francis Goode.
Carry On At Your Convenience, 1971 Charles Coote.
Carry On Henry, 1971 Sir Roger de Lodger.
Carry On Loving, 1970 James Bedsop.
Carry On Up The Jungle, 1970 Tonka
Carry On Again Doctor, 1969 Dr Ernest Stoppage
Carry On Camping, 1969 Charlie Muggins
Zeta One, 1969 Swyne.
Carry On Up The Khyber, 1968 Pr James Widdle.
Carry On Doctor, 1967 Mr Barron
The Terrornauts, 1967 Joshua Yellowlees.
Carry On Screaming, 1966 Dan Dann
Carry On Don't Lose Your Head, 1966 Duke de Pommfrit
Carry On Follow That Camel, 1966 Cpt Le Pice
Carry On Cleo, 1965 Seneca
Carry On Cowboy, 1965 Big Heap.
Carry On Jack, 1964 Walter
Carry On Spying, 1964 Charlie Bind
Carry On Cabby, 1963 Pint-Pot.
Carry On Regardless, 1961 Gabriel Dimple.
Dentist On The Job, 1961 Roper.
What A Whopper!, 1961 Arnold.
Carry On Constable, 1960 Special Constable Gorse.
Inn For Trouble, 1960 Silas Withering.
Our House, TV series, 1960 Simon Willow.
Carry On Teacher, 1959 Michael Bean.
Please Turn Over, 1959 Jeweler.
Carry On Nurse, 1958 Hinton.
Carry On Sergeant, 1958 Peter Golightly.
I Only Arsked, 1958 Professor.
The Army Game, TV series 1957 Pte Hatchett
Who Done It?, 1956 Disc Jockey
Timeslip, 1956 Office Boy.
Jumping For Joy, 1955
Man Of The Moment, 1955 Play Director
March Hare, 1955 Fisher.
Simon And Laura, 1955 Porter.
As Long As They're Happy, 1955 Irate Fan.
Five Days, 1954 Bill.
To Dorothy A Son, 1954
Brandy For The Parson, 1952 George Crumb.
Hammer The Toff, 1952 Cashier.
You're Only Young Twice, 1952 Adolphus Hayman.
The Galloping Major, 1951 Lew Rimmel.
Room To Let, 1950 Mike Atkinson.
Dark Secret, 1949 Arthur Figson.
Passport To Pimlico, 1949 Bert Fitch.
Meet Me At Dawn, 1947
The End Of The River, 1947 Raphael.
A Canterbury Tale, 1944 Thomas Duckett.
The Goose Steps Out, 1942 Max.
Let The People Sing, 1942 Orton.
The Ghost Of St Michael's, 1941 Percy Thorne.
Jailbirds, 1939 Nick.
Where's That Fire?, 1939 Woodley.
Good Morning Boys, 1937 Septimus.
Sabotage, 1936
Well Done Henry, 1936 Rupert McNab.
The Melody Maker, 1933 Torn.
Marry Me, 1932 Billy Hart.

What Do We Do Now?, 1945


Charles Hawtrey and Kenneth Williams - two of our Kings of Camp


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