Basil John Slater
22 August 1916
|Died||9 January 1975 58) (aged|
John Slater (22 August 1916 – 9 January 1975) was an English character actor who usually portrayed lugubrious, amiable cockney types.
Slater's father was an antiques dealer. After attending St Clement Danes Grammar School in Hammersmith, Slater began acting in farce at the Whitehall Theatre. He first appeared on film in 1938, remaining active in the industry up to his death. He was a familiar face in British films of the 1940s and appeared in many classic films of the period, including The Day Will Dawn (1942, US title The Avengers), Went the Day Well? (1942), We Dive at Dawn (1943), A Canterbury Tale (1944), The Seventh Veil (1945), It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) and Passport to Pimlico (1949).
He was also a singer, and made three solo 78rpm records for Columbia in 1953 and 1954. The first of these was a cover of "(How Much is) That Doggie in the Window?", followed by "Travelling Alone", his own composition.The latter was released in 1953, and subsequently used in the 1956 film Johnny, You're Wanted , which starred Slater in the lead role. In 1954, Columbia released a single of excerpts from Dry Rot, a farce from London's Whitehall Theatre by John Chapman (which later became a film of the same name). The record featured Slater alongside Brian Rix, Basil Lord, Cicely Paget-Bowman, Diana Caderwood and Chapman, with Jackie Brown on the Hammond organ. In 1959, Slater participated on a studio cast recording of My Fair Lady , singing "With a Little Bit of Luck" and "Get Me to the Church on Time" as Eliza Doolittle's father Alfred.
Slater narrated the National Coal Board's Mining Review documentary series, and was known on television for his presenter role opposite popular children's puppets Pinky and Perky during the 1960s, as a story-teller on Jackanory and as Det. Sgt. Stone in Z-Cars from 1967 to 1974. He also appeared in the notorious 1958 stage production of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party , as Nat Goldberg. He narrated the 1963 film Giants of Steam made by the British Broadcasting Corporation and British Transport Films.
Slater sustained life-threatening injuries as a result of an air crash in France in 1946 and sporadic bouts of ill health hampered his career. He died on 9 January 1975 from a heart attack, aged 58.
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