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Norman Rossington
Rossington2.jpg
Norman Rossington in Sharpe's Regiment (1996)
Born(1928-12-24)24 December 1928
Died21 May 1999(1999-05-21) (aged 70)
Manchester, England
Years active1956–1996
Spouse(s)Cindy Barnes (1999–1999) (his death)

Norman Rossington (24 December 1928 – 21 May 1999) was an English actor best remembered for his roles in The Army Game, the Carry On films and the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night.

Early life

Born in Liverpool, Lancashire, the son of a publican, Rossington was educated at Sefton Park Elementary School and Liverpool Technical College. He left education at the age of 14. After that he lived a rather aimless adolescent life as messenger, office boy at Liverpool Docks and apprentice joiner.[1] He did his national service in the RAF. Later, he went to night school and studied industrial design at technical college to become a draughtsman. His interest in acting led him to the David Lewis Theatre, a local theatre group where he began his acting career. Here he played Shakespeare and in The Critic under the direction of Thomas G Reed. Rossington went on to train at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, by the mid-1950s appearing on the stage in plays such as a London Old Vic tour of the US in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Salad Days, being one of the original cast.[2][3] However, his big breakthrough came in 1957, when he starred as Private 'Cupcake' Cook in the popular sitcom The Army Game.[2] He left after three series in 1959, and in the meantime had appeared in its big screen spin-off I Only Arsked!, again as 'Cupcake'.[4]

Film roles

His first film role was in the 1956 film Three Men in a Boat. Rossington went on to appear in Carry On Sergeant, the first Carry On film, as well as Carry On Nurse (1959) and Carry On Regardless (1961).[5] Rossington also played notable serious roles in Saint Joan (1957) and the classic 1960 British "New Wave" film Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, playing alongside Albert Finney in the latter's first starring role.[6] In 1958 he acted in the first of two Titanic films, A Night to Remember, as a steward unable to communicate with non-English speaking passengers.[7] Rossington would return in his second Titanic film playing the Sergeant-at-Arms in S.O.S. Titanic in 1979.[8]

In 1962 Rossington played the uncredited role of Corporal Jenkins in Lawrence of Arabia, and later appeared in The Longest Day (1962), Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965), Tobruk playing Alfie (1967) and The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968).[6] In 1972, he appeared in Young Winston and the cult horror film Death Line with Donald Pleasence.[6]

Rossington is the only performer to work in both a Beatles film, in A Hard Day's Night, and an Elvis Presley film, Double Trouble.[2] He remembered Presley during filming as a 'quiet man who sat by himself in a corner and who would often borrow my newspaper.'[9]

Television career

From the 1970s onwards, Rossington mainly appeared on television, including roles in His and Hers, The Wednesday Play, Casanova, Carry On Christmas, Crown Court, I, Claudius, Z-Cars, Big Jim and the Figaro Club (1981, in the title role of "Big Jim"), The Bill and Last of the Summer Wine.[10] He also told the stories from The Adventures of Portland Bill.[11] His final appearances before his death were Heartbeat in 1996, Sharpe's Regiment as Sergeant Horatio Havercamp, also in 1996, and What's a Carry On? in 1998.[6]

Theatre

His stage career included time spent with the Royal Shakespeare Company and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.[12] Rossington also made many appearances in the West End, with roles in Peter Pan, My Fair Lady (as Alfred Doolittle), Annie Get Your Gun (as Charlie Davenport), Tony Weller in Pickwick: The Musical,[1] Guys and Dolls (as Nathan Detroit), and in Beauty and the Beast (as Maurice).[13]

Radio

Rossington did some radio, returning to the part of Big Jim in the BBC Radio 4 version of Big Jim and the Figaro Club.[14] He made six half-hour episodes in 1987.

Personal life and death

Rossington gave his hobbies as woodwork, skiing, golf and languages. Early in his life, Rossington was married to an actress for three years and then divorced. His second marriage, on 19 January 1999 to Cindy Barnes, lasted until his death from cancer aged 70 a few months later.[12]

Selected filmography

Selected television roles

Year Title Role
1957 to 1959 The Army Game Private Cupcake Cook
1960 to 1962 Our House Gordon Brent
1967 Hicks and Stokes Billy Hicks
1969 Curry and Chips Norman
1970 The Roads to Freedom Pinette
1971 Casanova Lorenzo
1976 I, Claudius Sergeant of the Guard
1996 Sharpe Sergeant Horatio Havercamp

References

  1. ^ a b Obituary for Norman Rossington, The Guardian, 22 May 1999
  2. ^ a b c "Obituary: Norman Rossington". The Independent. 22 October 2011. Archived from the original on 21 June 2022.
  3. ^ "Review". Gramophone.
  4. ^ "I only Arsked! (1959)". BFI.
  5. ^ "Norman Rossington | Movies and Filmography". AllMovie.
  6. ^ a b c d "Norman Rossington". BFI.
  7. ^ "A Night to Remember (1958)". BFI.
  8. ^ "S.O.S. Titanic (1979) - William Hale | Cast and Crew | AllMovie" – via www.allmovie.com.
  9. ^ "Memories of Elvis". OnThisDay.com.
  10. ^ "Norman Rossington". www.aveleyman.com.
  11. ^ "Portland Bill (1983)". BFI.
  12. ^ a b "BBC News | UK | Actor Norman Rossington dies". news.bbc.co.uk.
  13. ^ "Norman Rossington, British Actor With Roles Onstage and in Film, 70". 25 May 1999 – via NYTimes.com.
  14. ^ "BBC Radio 4 Extra - Big Jim and the Figaro Club, The French Connection". BBC.