Saturday, January 06, 2007

An Absolute Shower ...!

This Monday marks another anniversary of the death of another of my childhood heroes - Terry-Thomas. A favourite of the classic black and white comedy era, a cad, a cheat and an absolute shower!

Born Thomas Terry Hoar-Stevens in Finchley, London July 1911, he began his career as a cabaret artist and film extra. Following the end of WW2 he gained employment in both radio and variety but it wasn't until the mid-1950's that his famous persona was born. With his trademark gap in his top teeth, the phrase "you're an absolute shower" came from a character in 'Private's Progress', in which he played Major Hitchcock. Over the next decade, Terry-Thomas was to star in numerous films but always as a toff, the bounder, the cad.

In 1966 he starred in a French film, La Grande Vadrouille, a film that became synonymous with holiday viewing - much like 'The Sound Of Music' has become in the UK. The film was seen by 17 million people in France and stood as a box-office record in the country until Titanic in 1997. Other memorable roles included 'Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines' (here pictured with Eric Sykes) and 'Monty Carlo Or Bust'.

Nothing was heard of Terry-Thomas for some time as he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1971. He disappeared from public life altogether until his cousin, Richard Briers, brought the old man's illness into the limelight with a benefit concert. T-T was living in obscurity and terribly ill. He died on the 8th January 1990.

On a final note, and just to confirm his immortality, the gap in his upper teeth was so famous that in British medicine there is a Terry-Thomas sign - the gap between the scaphoid and lunate bones (scapho-lunate disassociation). However, these bones are in the wrist ...

Oh, good show!



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