Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Anthony Newley born 24 September 1931
Anthony George Newley (born on September 24, 1931 in the London Borough of Hackney; died on April 14, 1999) was an English actor, singer and songwriter.
Anthony Newley was one of entertainment's genuine triple treats: an actor, singer, and composer with an international following, equally adept and prodigious in all three fields. Moreover, he enjoyed success as a performer in such seemingly mutually exclusive fields as rock & roll and the legitimate stage. And even more improbably, he did it with a working-class Cockney persona that should never have found much currency outside of England. Indeed, for 30 years he was seen by many as a tone-deaf holler caller but by others as one of the most imposing talents to come out of England this side of the Beatles.
Born to a single mother in the London working-class neighborhood of Hackney, Newley was evacuated during the bombing of London and was thereby exposed to the performing arts when he was tutored during this time by George Pescud, a former music-hall entertainer. Though recognized as very bright by his teachers back in London, he was uninterested in school, and by the age of fourteen was working as an office boy when he read an ad for "boy actors." After an audition, he was offered a job including free tuition at the prestigious Italia Conti Stage School. He accepted and his career was launched.
His first major film role was as Dick Bultitude in Peter Ustinov's Vice Versa (1948) followed by the Artful Dodger in David Lean's 1948 rendition of Oliver Twist, the classic Charles Dickens tome. He made a successful transition from child star to contract player in British movies of the 1950s (broken up by a short and disastrous stint in the military), to a top-of-the-pops crooner in the 1960s.
Newley had a successful pop music career as a vocalist, with two number one hits in 1960: "Why?" and "Do You Mind?" As a songwriter, he won the 1963 Grammy Award for Song of the Year for "What Kind of Fool Am I", but he was also well-known for "Gonna Build a Mountain" and comic novelty songs such as "That Noise" and his version of "Strawberry Fair". He wrote songs that others made hits including "Goldfinger" (the title song of the James Bond film, Goldfinger, music by John Barry), and "Feeling Good", which became a hit for Nina Simone and the rock band Muse (band).
With Leslie Bricusse, he wrote the musical Stop the World - I Want to Get Off in which he also performed, earning a nomination for a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. The play was made into a (poorly-received) film version in 1971
, but Newley was unable to star in it due to a schedule conflict. The other musicals for which he co-wrote music and lyrics with Bricusse included The Roar of the Greasepaint—the Smell of the Crowd (1965) and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), based on the children's book by Roald Dahl.
During the 1960’S he also added his greatest accomplishments on the London and Broadway stage, in Hollywood films, and British and United States television. In the 1970s he remained active, particularly as a Las Vegas and Catskills resort performer, but his career had begun to flounder. He had taken risks that eventually led to his downfall in Hollywood. Throughout the 1980s and 90s he worked valiantly to achieve a comeback but always one obstacle or another hindered him.
In his later years as a mature singer Newley recorded songs from Fiddler on the Roof and Scrooge. He enjoyed his final popular success onstage when he starred in the latter musical in London and Birmingham in the 1990s. At the time of his death he had been working on a musical of Shakespeare's Richard III.
Ill health had plagued the star for many years. He was first diagnosed with renal cell cancer in 1985, and had one kidney removed. The cancer returned in 1997, this time attacking his lungs, then spreading to his liver. Speaking once about his illness, he said: "When they told me I had a growth on my left kidney I had a bet with the surgeon. 'A dollar that it's not malignant', I said. "Before they wheeled me into the operating theatre they pinned a dollar on my gown. It had gone when I finally came round. That's when I knew I'd lost the bet." Cancer finally claimed his life during 1999 at the age of 67, soon after his becoming a grandfather.
Newley married and divorced three times. In 1956, he first married Elizabeth Ann Lynn, and the marriage was dissolved in 1963. The same year he married Joan Collins; and they divorced in 1971. In 1989, he divorced his third wife, air hostess Dareth Dunn. At the time of Newley's demise, he was survived by his mother, Grace, age 96 (with whom he lived in Surrey since 1992 after 22 years living in the U.S.), and four children, a boy (Sasha) and a girl (Tara) with Joan Collins, and another boy (Christopher) and girl (Shelby) with Dareth Dunn. His third wife, Dareth Newley Dunn, described him as "a dear, sweet, loving friend and father ... consummate performer and ultimate composer".
Newley's vocal style has been recognised as a major influence on that of the early David Bowie. In recognition of his creative skills and body of work, Newley was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1989. (Info edited mainly from Wikipedia & Crooners Tribe)