John Le Mesurier

John Le Mesurier
John Le Mesurier (5 April 1912 – 15 November 1983)

John le Mesurier was born John Elton Halliley on 5 April 1912 in Bedford. In 1933, he signed on for the Fay Compton Studio of Dramatic Art, using his mother's maiden name, le Mesurier, as his stage name.

A few months later, he had his first professional engagement at the Palladium Theatre, Edinburgh. This was soon followed by spells in various repertory companies. After touring in various shows, John married June Melville just before the outbreak of World War Two.

In 1940, John joined the Royal Armoured Corps and reached the rank of Captain. He served at home and in India. His acting career was put on hold for 2 years, until he was demobbed in 1945. In 1946 John's marriage to June ended and in April 1952 he married Hattie Jacques, who he had met while visiting the Players Theatre in Villiers Street, near Charing Cross.

John made his first film, 'Escape from Bradmoor', in 1948, which was to be the first of over 100 films. His first appearance in 'Hancock's Half Hour' came in 1957. He went on to appear in a number of Hancock's TV shows, including 'The Lawyer: The Crown V James', 'The New Nose', 'Lord Byron Lived Here', 'The Cruise', 'The Cold' and 'The Lift'. John and Tony became very good friends and John appeared in all of Tony's films, except 'Orders Are Orders'.

The part for which John is perhaps most famously known is the role of Sergeant Arthur Wilson in 'Dad's Army', which began in 1968.

John was also able to play 'serious' roles, and in 1971 he earned a Society of Film and Television Arts "Best Television Actor" award for his portrayal of Kim Philby in Dennis Potter's play 'Traitor'.

In 1965, John and Hattie were divorced and a year later, John married Joan Malin. He died on 16 November 1983 from an abdominal illness. The message that appeared in The Times Obituary column, by John's own request, said that John had, "...simply conked out".

In 1984, John's autobiography, 'A Jobbing Actor', was published posthumously, and in 1994, the Dead Comics Society erected a plaque to his memory at his former flat in Baron's Court.