The veteran Welsh actor Victor Spinetti has died of pancreatic cancer, his agent said today.
Spinetti is thought to have had cancer for a year, but remained in good spirits as friends including Barbara Windsor, on whose Radio 2 show he made a recent appearance, came to visit him.
Barry Burnett, Spinetti’s agent said: “He was very cheerful to the end. I spoke to him on Friday and he was talking about his plans and everything.”
Spinetti was born to an Italian-Welsh father and Welsh mother in Cwm in Ebbw Vale, south Wales in 1929.
His working life began as a waiter and factory worker but Spinetti sprung to international prominence with starring roles in The Beatles’ films A Hard Day’s Night, Help! and Magical Mystery Tour in the 1960s.
George Harrison is said to have told him "You have got to be in all our films. If you are not in them, my mum won't come and see them because she fancies you."
Spinetti also co-wrote John Lennon’s first book ‘In His Own Write’ – a collection of short stories, nonsensical poems and surreal line drawings.
After the Beatles connection, Spinetti went on to act in more than 30 films, including Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Zeffirelli’s The Taming of the Shrew, Voyage of the Damned, The Return of the Pink Panther, and The Krays.
His West End appearances included Expresso Bongo, Candide, Cat Among the Pigeons, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Vagina Rex, while roles on Broadway included The Hostage and The Philanthropist.