Beatles film actor Victor Spinetti dies

Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:05am EDT
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By Peter Griffiths

LONDON (Reuters) - British actor Victor Spinetti, who befriended the Beatles while working on three of their biggest films in the 1960s, has died of cancer at the age of 82, his agent said on Tuesday.

The Welsh-born entertainer was caught up in the frenzy of Beatlemania after appearing with the Fab Four in "Help!", "A Hard Day's Night" and "Magical Mystery Tour".

It was his Tony Award-winning performance in the World War One musical satire "Oh! What a Lovely War" on Broadway that prompted the band to ask him to work with them.

A great story-teller, Spinetti used to joke that George Harrison had told him he had to be in all their films, otherwise "me mum won't come and see them, because she fancies you".

"He was a wonderful actor and a wonderful raconteur," his agent Barry Burnett told Reuters. "Everyone looked forward to having an evening with him because they were going to be entertained. He would start talking and he would never stop."

Young Beatles fans would scream and chase Spinetti down the street because of his links with the band, he added.

"He loved them - they became great friends," Burnett said. "One of his stories was that when he flew over to New York there were big crowds at the airport. So he said 'who's on the plane?' and they said 'well, they're waiting for you'. His association with the Beatles made him the next best thing to them."

In a career spanning more than 50 years, Spinetti starred with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and entertained thousands with a mix of songs and stories at his one-man show.   Continued...