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Leslie Crowther CBE

1933 - 1996

June Whitfield…"He was so versatile…I shall always remember him with great affection and a smile"

Richard Wilson…"He had this enormous energy…he was a very special person In my career"

Henry Kelly"you knew If you met Leslie Crowther, that you were going to smile within the 1st

10 seconds"

William.G.Stewart…"Leslie was the great British all Rounder…"

Lord Brian Rix talks openly about Leslie's battle with alcohol addiction…"…he had enormous strength and courage…he completed his drying out process and that was that as far as he was concerned"

James Murray, The Daily Express"a glob of alien stink weed"

Alexei Sayle"he just seemed like a really nice bloke"

Mathew Kelly…"He was a fantastic entertainer and a great bloke" Les 19a.gif (77925 bytes)

 

Tv & Radio appearances

The Black & White Minstrel Show 1960

Variety Playhouse 1962 Les 5a.gif (69392 bytes)

Crowther's Crowd 1963 Les 6a.gif (72079 bytes)

Crackerjack 1968

The Leslie Crowther Show 1970

My Good Woman 1974

The Price Is Right 1984

Leslie Crowther was born in Nottingham in 1933 into a theatrical family. Les 1a.gif (49787 bytes) Throughout his childhood there was little doubt that his future lay in entertainment.

At the age of 11 he won a piano scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music Les 2a.gif (66602 bytes). He would have pursued a career in classical music but chose the stage instead.

He later said he would rather finish a performance to the sound of laughter than the polite applause he might get for a Chopin Nocturne.

After Drama school, where he met his wife gene, Leslie appeared in Shakespeare Les 3a.gif (65180 bytes), Review, Pantomime, and Seaside concert party Les 7a.gif (55913 bytes), honing his musical and comedy skills.

Leslie & Gene later worked together in the popular 'Ovaltinies' radio show. It was a tough and invaluable apprenticeship, which would put him on the road to early television and radio success on the BBC's Billy Cotton band Show and The Black & White Minstrel Show.

Two catchphrases would always be synonymous with the name of Leslie Crowther. "Come on down" was to be his call in the 80's but in the 60's it was"Crackerjack".

Leslie's rapport with children made him a natural for Crackerjack. Noisy and slightly anarchic, it was probably the first unstuffy, unpatronising children's program on British television.

One of the highlights of Leslie's 8-year association with Crackerjack was a visit from the Queen Les 9a.gif (85894 bytes), who told Leslie that she regularly watched with prince Charles and Princess Anne and when in the middle of the 1960'sAamon Andrews left the series for ITV, the BBC didn't have to look far for his successor.

Leslie left Crackerjack in 1968, by which time he was established as a prime time TV entertainer and in 1970 LWT (London Weekend Television) gave him 'The Leslie Crowther Show' Les 10a.gif (71781 bytes) produced by William.G.Stewart.

Known for his enormous professional generosity, he helped launch Larry Grayson's career on this show, by cutting out some of his sketches to allow Larry to perform his entire routine, after which Larry went from strength to strength.

Twice in his professional career, Coronation Street had to take second place in the ratings to Leslie Crowther. The 1st time was with 'My Good Woman'. Leslie played a hapless husbandLes 11a.gif (88476 bytes), whose wife, deliciously played by Sylvia Simms, was a compulsive charity worker and do gooder. The local vicar was played by an inexperienced Richard Wilson in his 1st sitcom…

"He had this enormous energy…he was a very special person in my career"

From the middle of the 1970's, Leslie had a time he called 'the doldrum years', My Good Woman had finished and although he was going strong with his Stork Margarine commercials, several series failed to come anywhere near the success he was used to and he had to face up to problem he would struggle with for years.

His fight against alcohol addiction.

Lord Brian Rix talks openly about Leslie's battle with alcohol addiction…"…he had enormous strength and courage…he completed his drying out process and that was that as far as he was concerned

And then, soon after, The Price Is Right crashed into the homes of an unsuspecting British nation Les 12a.gif (58137 bytes) In 1984 once again Coronation Street was no.2 in the ratings. The press hated it, the public loved it and Leslie's personal invitation to "Come on down!" found it's way into the language Les 13a.gif (94140 bytes).

In 1984, Leslie had had to audition for The Price Is Right, but in 1990, when Granada launched 'Stars In Their Eyes', the name at the top of their list was Leslie Crowther Les 14a.gif (85656 bytes).

Leslie's career was once again in orbit but then came the horrendous car accident that effectively ended his stage and television career Les 15a.gif (77333 bytes) Les 16a.gif (100136 bytes).

After a miraculous recovery, aided by the love and support of his wife Gene and family, he realized he would not be able to deliver to his own demanding high standards and made the conscious decision to retire from performing.

He published a funny and moving autobiography, 'The Bonus Of Laughter'. The President of the Lord's Taverners at the time of his accident, he continued to lend his name to the many charities he had worked tirelessly for through his entire career Les 17a.gif (87438 bytes) and in 1993 he went to Buckingham Palace to receive the CBE as recognition of this work Les 18a.gif (94116 bytes).

Leslie Crowther CBE 1933 - 1996 - Straight Actor, Situation Comedy Star, Game show Host, Children's Entertainer, After Dinner Speaker, tireless worker for charity, a loving Husband, Father of 5 and Grandfather of 12.

R.I.P. Les 20a.gif (59953 bytes)

 

Other Related Sites

CrackerJack

UK GameShows

Watched It!

TV Comedy A-Z

Showbiz Obituaries

email: Lesliecrowther@resurrection.com