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Jack Warner

Jack (centre) and Muriel Warner photographed at the Granville Hotel, Ramsgate, with proprietors and friends William and Florence Hamilton, East Kent Times, 8 April 1953
Horace John Waters

(1895-10-24)24 October 1895
Died24 May 1981(1981-05-24) (aged 85)
London, England
Resting placeEast London Cemetery, London, England
Years active1943–1978
Known forDixon of Dock Green
Muriel Peters
(m. 1933)

Jack Warner, OBE (born Horace John Waters; 24 October 1895 – 24 May 1981) was a British actor. He is closely associated with the role of PC George Dixon, which he played in the 1950 film The Blue Lamp and later in the television series Dixon of Dock Green from 1955 until 1976, but he was also for some years one of Britain's most popular film stars.

Early life

Warner was born Horace John Waters[1] in Bromley-by-Bow, Poplar, London, the third child of Edward William Waters, master fulling maker and undertaker's warehouseman, and Maud Mary Best.[2] His sisters, Elsie and Doris Waters, were comediennes who usually performed as "Gert and Daisy".[3]

Warner attended the Coopers' Company's Grammar School for Boys in Mile End,[4] while his sisters both attended the nearby sister school, Coborn School for Girls in Bow. The three children were choristers at St. Leonard's Church in Bromley-by-Bow, and for a time, Warner was the choir's soloist.[4]

After leaving school, he studied automobile engineering at the Northampton Institute (now part of the City University, London) but being more practical than academic he left after a year to work at the repair facilities of F.W. Berwick and Company in Balham,[2] where he started by sweeping the floors for 2d per hour.[5] Frederick William Berwick became a partner in the Anglo-French automobile manufacturing company Sizaire-Berwick and, in August 1913, Warner was sent to work as a mechanic in Paris. He drove completed chassis to the coast from where they were shipped to England, road-testing them en route.[6] He acquired a working knowledge of French which stood him in good stead throughout his life; an imitation of Maurice Chevalier became a part of his repertoire.[2]

During the First World War, he served in France as a driver in the Royal Flying Corps and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 1918. He returned to England and the motor trade in 1919, graduating from hearses to occasional car racing at Brooklands, where he maintained and sometimes raced Henrietta Lister's Aston Martin.[7] He was over thirty before he became a professional entertainer.[2]


Warner first became known to the general public in music hall and radio. By the early years of the Second World War, he was nationally known and starred in a BBC radio comedy show, Garrison Theatre, invariably opening with "A Monologue Entitled...".


Warner's first film was The Dummy Talks (1943), in which he had the lead role. He had a support role in The Captive Heart (1946), a successful film. Also successful were Hue and Cry and Dear Murderer (both 1947). Warner was the patriarch of the Huggett family in Holiday Camp (1947) which was a big hit. He played a policeman in It Always Rains on Sunday (1947), and was another family man in the comedy Easy Money (1948).

He was in a war film, Against the Wind (1948), and starred in a thriller, My Brother's Keeper (1948). The Huggett family had been so well received in Holiday Camp that production company Gainsborough Pictures decided to give them their own series, so Warner was seen in Here Come the Huggetts (1948), Vote for Huggett (1949) and The Huggetts Abroad (1949). He was one of several names in Train of Events and played the governor of a borstal institution in Boys in Brown (both 1949).

Warner was by now established as one of the most popular British actors in the country. His stock rose further when he played PC George Dixon pursuing young hoodlum Dirk Bogarde in The Blue Lamp (1950), the most successful film at the box office that year.[8][9] One observer predicted, "This film will make Jack the most famous policeman in Britain."[9]

Warner performed in a comedy Talk of a Million (1951) and a thriller Valley of Eagles (1951). He had a small part in Scrooge (1951) then played a policeman again in Emergency Call (1952). He was one of several stars in Meet Me Tonight (1952) and returned to comedy for Those People Next Door (1953). He was top-billed in The Square Ring and The Final Test (both 1953). In the POW film Albert R.N. (1953) he was billed beneath Anthony Steel.

Additional thrillers followed: Bang! You're Dead (1954) and Forbidden Cargo (1954). He co-starred in the Hammer film version of The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and had a cameo-like supporting role as the police superintendent in the 1955 Ealing Studios black comedy The Ladykillers.

Even with his success that followed in television, Warner performed in the occasional film such as Now and Forever (1956), Home and Away (1956), Carve Her Name with Pride (1958) and Jigsaw (1962). His last film appearance was in Dominique (1979).


Although the police constable he played in The Blue Lamp was shot dead in the film, the character was revived in 1955 for the BBC television series Dixon of Dock Green, which ran until 1976. However in the series' later years, Warner's character became ridiculed and the series no longer supported by the police since Warner at 80 was so obviously somewhat past compulsory retirement age, even though supposedly confined to a less active desk sergeant role. The series had a prime-time slot on Saturday evenings, and always opened with Dixon giving a little soliloquy to the camera, beginning with the words, "Good evening, all". According to Warner's autobiography, Jack of All Trades, Queen Elizabeth II once visited the television studio where the series was made, and told Warner "that she thought Dixon of Dock Green had become part of the British way of life".[10]

Personal life

In 1933, Warner married company secretary Muriel Winifred ("Mollie"), daughter of independently wealthy Roberts Peters.[11] The couple had no children.[12]

Warner was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1965.[13] In 1973, he was made a Freeman of the City of London. Warner commented in his autobiography that the honour "entitles me to a set of 18th century rules for the conduct of life urging me to be sober and temperate". Warner added, "Not too difficult with Dixon to keep an eye on me!"[14]

He died, aged 85, of pneumonia in the Royal Masonic Hospital, Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith, London, in 1981.[15][better source needed] The characterisation by Warner of Dixon was held in such high regard that officers from Paddington Green Police Station bore the coffin at his funeral.[16]


Year Title Role Notes
1943 The Dummy Talks Jack
1946 The Captive Heart Cpl. Horsfall
1947 Hue and Cry Nightingale
Dear Murderer Insp. Penbury
Holiday Camp Joe Huggett
It Always Rains on Sunday Detective Sergeant Fothergill
1948 Easy Money Philip Stafford
Against the Wind Max Cronk
My Brother's Keeper George Martin
Here Come the Huggetts Joe Huggett
1949 Vote for Huggett
The Huggetts Abroad
Train of Events Jim Hardcastle (segment: "The Engine Driver")
Boys in Brown Governor
1950 The Services Show TV series
The Blue Lamp PC George Dixon
1951 Talk of a Million Bartley Murnahan
Valley of Eagles Inspector Peterson
Scrooge Mr. Jorkin
1952 The Monster of Killoon Bill Anderson TV movie
Emergency Call Inspector Lane
Meet Me Tonight Murdoch: Ways and Means
1953 Those People Next Door Sam Twigg
The Square Ring Danny Felton
The Final Test Sam Palmer
Albert R.N. Capt. Maddox
1954 Bang! You're Dead Bonsell
Forbidden Cargo Maj. Alec White
1955 The Quatermass Xperiment Insp. Lomax
The Ladykillers The Superintendent
Dixon of Dock Green P.C. (later Sgt) George Dixon TV series (432 episodes: 1955–1976)
1956 Now and Forever Mr. J. Pritchard
Home and Away George Knowles
1958 Carve Her Name with Pride Mr. Bushell
1960 Upgreen – And at 'Em
1962 Jigsaw Det. Insp. Fred Fellows
1979 Dominique George (final film role)

Box-office ranking

For a number of years, British film exhibitors voted him among the top ten British stars at the box office via an annual poll in the Motion Picture Herald.


  1. ^ Warner (1975), p. 2.
  2. ^ a b c d Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. OUP Oxford.
  3. ^ Warner (1975), pp. 74–75.
  4. ^ a b Warner (1975), p. 10.
  5. ^ Tell Me Another, personal anecdotes as told to Dick Hills. Southern Television, first broadcast 10 August 1977.
  6. ^ "F. W. Berwick and Co". Grace's Guide to British Industrial History. Retrieved 19 October 2015. Chassis were driven to the coast in groups of three and road-tested en-route by Jack Waters, prior to shipping to England.
  7. ^ Everett, Betsy (16 January 2015). "Extraordinary family story of woman who gave away millions". Darlington and Stockton Times. Retrieved 25 July 2023.
  8. ^ "Critics Praise Drama: Comedians Win Profits". The Sydney Morning Herald. No. 35, 264. New South Wales, Australia. 29 December 1950. p. 3. Retrieved 2 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ a b Warner (1975), p. 108.
  10. ^ Warner (1975), p. 84.
  11. ^ Stage and Screen Lives, Michael Billington, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 349
  12. ^ Wenden, D. J. (2004). "Warner, Jack [real name Horace John Waters] (1895–1981), actor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31803. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  13. ^ Warner (1975), p. 201.
  14. ^ Warner (1975), p. 207.
  15. ^ Phil S (22 January 2013). "Careful. It might bring a lump in you throat!". Archived from the original (message board) on 13 January 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  16. ^ Sydney-Smith (2002), pp. 105–106.
  17. ^ "BRITTEN'S 'RAPE OF LUCRETIA': NEW YORK DIVIDED", The Manchester Guardian (1901–1959) [Manchester (UK)] 31 Dec 1948: 8.
  18. ^ "Bob Hope Takes Lead from Bing In Popularity". The Canberra Times. 31 December 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 24 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia.
  19. ^ "Success Of British Films", The Times, 29 December 1950. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012
  20. ^ "COMEDIAN TOPS FILM POLL". The Sunday Herald. Sydney. 28 December 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 27 April 2012 – via National Library of Australia.