Obitaury: Michael Ward

George Everard Yeo Ward (Michael Ward), actor: born Carnmenellis, Cornwall 9 April 1909; died London 8 November 1997.

Michael Ward belonged to that clutch of character actors whose services were in such demand during the heyday of the British film industry that they seemed to appear in every post-war movie. A master of cameo acting, Ward made his name in small parts throughout the 1950s and 1960s, in such films as Tom Brown's Schooldays, The Love Lottery and Doctor in Love.

Whether cast as an industrious barman or petulant shop assistant, his unique acting style afforded an air of upper-class nervousness. With light fuzzy hair, aquiline nose and always immaculately attired, he was a distinctive thespian whose haughty tones were well-suited to the fretful and solicitous characters for which he became renowned.

His more substantial film contributions included appearances as Maurice, an effeminate uncle in Norman Wisdom's seventh film Up in the World (1956), and as the supercilious Gerald in Hammer's What the Butler Saw (1950). For his performance as Elvin, an ornithologist, in Sleeping Car to Trieste (1948), a fine remake of the 1930s classic Rome Express, Ward received glowing reviews. A trade paper commented: "the actor deserving most praise is Michael Ward who gives us a delightful characterisation of a lecturer on English birds."

He was born George Everard Yeo Ward. His father was a parish vicar which meant that the family moved around the Cornish peninsula, including spells at Falmouth; Hessenford, near St Germans; St Agnus and Marazion. As an only child, Ward admitted to leading a lonely childhood, missing the companionship of brothers and sisters.

He showed an early predilection for the piano and while attending Mannamead Junior School, within Plymouth College, received extra tuition from the housemaster's wife, an accomplished musician. Although he never pursued his early ambition to become a concert pianist, he became a proficient player and wrote his own material. Later he attended the Central School of Speech and Drama, after a brief stint as a teacher.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, he had already made several stage appearances since graduating, and was living near Luton. After serving two years with the Army he was invalided out through illness in 1942, finishing the war years helping the emergency services around Luton.

He returned to the stage in 1945, playing Beverly Carlton in The Man Who Came to Dinner, followed a year later by an appearance in Gay Pavilion, as the shy footman, and understudying Vic Oliver in The Night and the Music.

Ward made his film debut in 1947 as a French valet in The First Gentleman, a study of the Prince Regent's reign after the Napoleonic wars. The picture marked the beginning of a busy film career that contained appearances in five Norman Wisdom movies and five Carry Ons, including the part of Archimedes in Carry On Cleo (1964); he was also employed by the Boulting Brothers in several productions. His last film was Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978), playing a real estate agent.

On television, he gave a fine performance as Adrian, Eric and Ernie's neighbour in the Morecambe and Wise Show. There was the role of Penfold in Crossroads (1976) and appearances in many other top shows, including Hancock's Half Hour, The Two Ronnies, Steptoe And Son, The New Avengers and Rising Damp, as a Labour candidate.

During a career spanning nearly three decades, Ward worked with many of the profession's top names on both sides of the Atlantic. Acting remained the mainstay of his working life, but for a spell during the 1950s he studied statistics in the evenings, enabling him to work occasionally for a large American pharmaceutical company when acting jobs were scarce.

Ill health forced his retirement from acting in 1980, but repeats of many of his films continued to generate fan mail. In 1990, he was offered a part as a cardinal for the American film Eminence. Sadly, illness prevented him from accepting it.

Although during the years before his death Ward was bedridden, he always retained a lively sense of humour. From 1989 until his death, he was cared for by his close friend James Hogg.


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser