Ronald Shiner

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Ronald Shiner
Ronald Shiner.jpg
Born(1903-06-08)8 June 1903
London, England
Died29 June 1966(1966-06-29) (aged 63)
Hailsham, Sussex, England

Ronald Alfred Shiner (8 June 1903 – 29 June 1966) was a British stand-up comedian and comedy actor whose career encompassed film, West End theatre and music hall.



Early life and career

When he was seventeen, Shiner joined the Royal North-West Mounted Police, after which he became a signalman and a wireless operator, then a farmer. He also worked as a greengrocer, milkman and bookmaker's clerk. [1] He served for three years in the British Army.

Army concerts gave him a taste for the stage. He made his stage debut in 1928 in Dr Syn and the following year became a stage director at the Stage Society. [2] During the early 1930s he appeared in a number of West End plays at the Whitehall Theatre by Walter C. Hackett including Good Losers , Take a Chance , Afterwards and Road House .

Film extra

Shiner's first film was Wild Boy (1934) with Sonnie Hale and Flanagan & Allen. He had support roles in My Old Dutch (1934), Doctor's Orders (1934) and It's a Bet (1935). He could also be seen in Gentlemen's Agreement (1935), Royal Cavalcade (1935), Squibs (1935), Once a Thief (1935), While Parents Sleep (1935), Line Engaged (1935), Invitation to the Waltz (1936), King of Hearts (1936), Limelight (1936) with Anna Neagle and Arthur Tracy, Excuse My Glove (1936) and Dreaming Lips (1937).

Shiner was in another with Neagle, London Melody (1937), then was in Doctor Syn (1937), The Black Tulip (1937), Beauty and the Barge (1937), and Silver Blaze (1937).

He was uncredited in A Yank at Oxford (1938) and Sidewalks of London (1938), and had bigger parts in They Drive by Night (1938), The Gang's All Here (1939), The Mind of Mr. Reeder (1939), Trouble Brewing (1939) with George Formby, The Nursemaid Who Disappeared (1939), I Killed the Count (1939), Flying Fifty-Five (1939), Discoveries (1939), The Lion Has Wings (1939), Come On George! (1939) with Formby, Bulldog Sees It Through (1940) with Jack Buchanan, The Missing People (1940) with Will Fyffe, The Middle Watch (1940) with Buchanan, Let George Do It! (1940) with Formby, [3] The Case of the Frightened Lady (1940), Spare a Copper (1940) with Formby, Salvage with a Smile (1941), The Seventh Survivor (1941), Old Bill and Son (1941), South American George (1941) with Formby.

On stage he was in Behind the Schemes (1940) and notably Something in the Air (1943–44). He had a popular radio segment Home Town. [4]

Shiner's film parts remained small in They Flew Alone (1942), Those Kids from Town (1942), The Big Blockade (1942), The Black Sheep of Whitehall (1941) with Will Hay, Unpublished Story (1942), Sabotage at Sea (1942), The Young Mr. Pitt (1942), King Arthur Was a Gentleman (1942) with Arthur Askey, The Balloon Goes Up (1943) and The Gentle Sex (1943).

Shiner was fourth billed in Formby's Get Cracking (1943). He had smaller roles in Miss London Ltd. (1943) with Askey, Thursday's Child (1943), My Learned Friend (1943) with Hay, The Butler's Dilemma (1943), and The Night Invader (1943). He was in Askey's Bees in Paradise (1944) and had small roles in I Live in Grosvenor Square (1945) with Neagle, and Caesar and Cleopatra (1945).

Stage star

Shiner's career received a massive boost when he appeared in a stage hit Worm's Eye View which ran from 1945 to 1947. Shiner performed in it over 1,700 times. [5]

On screen, George Formby gave Shiner another good part in George in Civvy Street (1946) and Shiner had a decent role in The Man Within (1947). He was in a children's film Dusty Bates (1947) and had a good part in Forbidden (1949).

Shiner had another huge stage success when he headlined the wartime play Seagulls Over Sorrento (1950–54) which he played for almost 2,000 performances. [5] [6]

Film stardom

He became a film star almost overnight when cast as a drill sergeant in the comedy Reluctant Heroes (1951) which he had played on stage. Directed by Jack Raymond, this was one of the most popular films in British cinemas in 1952. Also popular was Worm's Eye View (1952), the film version of the stage comedy, with Diana Dors, also directed by Raymond. These two films saw Shiner voted Britain's most popular local male star in cinemas in 1952 – having never made the list before. [7] [8]

Shiner made a cameo in The Magic Box (1951) then starred in his third and final film for Raymond Little Big Shot (1952) (Raymond died in 1953). [9]

Shiner remained a star for Top of the Form (1953), directed by John Paddy Carstairs, his first film for the Rank Organisation. [10] He was in Innocents in Paris (1953) with Alastair Sim and supported Margaret Lockwood and two Hollywood names (Wendell Corey and Forrest Tucker) in Laughing Anne (1953). [11] He was voted the third biggest British star of 1953, after Jack Hawkins and Alec Guinness. [12]

At the height of Shiner's career he insured his nose for £10,000 because he said "it's me beak which made 'em larf." [5]

Shiner back to leads for Up to His Neck (1954) with Carstairs, Aunt Clara (1954) with Margaret Rutherford, See How They Run (1955), Keep It Clean (1956), Dry Rot (1956) and My Wife's Family (1956). His role as Badger in Seagulls Over Sorrento was taken by Sid James, although he reprised it for the BBC in 1956 and 1961. [13] He played in My Three Angels on stage in 1955.

Later career

He had a cameo in Carry On Admiral (1957) and was the lead in Not Wanted on Voyage (1957), Girls at Sea (1958) and The Navy Lark (1958). He had a support part in the popular Operation Bullshine (1959) and supported in The Night We Got the Bird (1961).

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1958 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC Television Theatre.

Shiner starred in the London production of Aladdin as Widow Twankey with Bob Monkhouse at the Coliseum in 1960.

On the BBC he was in productions of Seagulls Over Sorrento (1961) and Worm's Eye View (1962). [14] He also made a TV series Send for Shiner .

Final years

In retirement he owned a pub at Blackboys in Sussex. British Pathe News filmed a newsreel of him in his pub, being visited by Jimmy Edwards, in 1954. [15]

Shiner suffered ill health during his last few years. In 1963 he moved from London to Eastbourne for his health. He died in hospital there in June 1966 leaving an estate of £30,955. [5] [16] [17]

Selected filmography

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  2. "TARES CIVIC PRESENTS". The Northern Champion . Vol. 40, no. 114. New South Wales, Australia. 12 February 1954. p. 8. Retrieved 2 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  3. "New Films Of The Week". The Sun . No. 9567 (LATE FINAL EXTRA ed.). Sydney. 2 September 1940. p. 9. Retrieved 2 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  4. "Ronny Becomes "Bobby" Shiner". Manilla Express . Vol. XLIV, no. 7. New South Wales, Australia. 27 January 1942. p. 4. Retrieved 2 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Mr ronald shiner". The Guardian. 1 July 1966. ProQuest   185155729.
  6. "Australian's play is big hit in West End". The Australian Women's Weekly . Vol. 18, no. 38. 24 February 1951. p. 15. Retrieved 2 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  7. "COMEDIAN TOPS FILM POLL". The Sunday Herald . Sydney. 28 December 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 24 April 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "WHAT'S NEWS IN THE MOVIE WORLD". The Sunday Times . Perth. 28 November 1954. p. 39. Retrieved 10 July 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "WHAT'S NEWS IN THE MOVIE WORLD". Sunday Times (Perth) . No. 2921. Western Australia. 28 November 1954. p. 39. Retrieved 2 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  10. "Challenge to Chaplin". The Sun . No. 2603. Sydney. 15 March 1953. p. 55. Retrieved 2 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  11. "British films lifted out of doldrums for the Coronation". The Australian Women's Weekly . Vol. 20, no. 40. 4 March 1953. p. 29. Retrieved 2 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "WORLD NEWS IN BRIEF". The Age . No. 30, 786. Victoria, Australia. 1 January 1954. p. 4. Retrieved 2 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  13. "Seagulls over Sorrento · British Universities Film & Video Council".
  14. "Worm's Eye View · British Universities Film & Video Council".
  15. Pathe News : Guv'nor Shiner(1954)
  16. "Ronald shiner leaves £30,000". The Guardian. 23 September 1966. ProQuest   185226526.
  17. "Ronald Shiner dies. 63". The Canberra Times . Vol. 40, no. 11, 509. 1 July 1966. p. 3. Retrieved 2 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  18. Release date for The Magic Box, in IMDb.