Arthur Howard – Wacko and the film ‘Bottoms Up’

His famous actor brother Leslie Howard was about 20 years older than the character actor Arthur Howard who had his greatest success on television when he played the role of the deputy headmaster Pettigrew to Jimmy Edwards’s  incompetent head in Whack-O! in the late 1950s.

For many years Athur Howard had brightened the cinema screen with a series of cameos (often uncredited), specialising in nervousl type teachers, vicars or “men from the ministry”.

Though a distinct family resemblance was apparent, he lacked the finely chiselled features that made a matinee idol of his brother, and leading men or his nephew Ronald or his son Alan.

Born Arthur Stainer in 1910, he made his screen debut in one of his brother’s films, The Lady is Willing (1933), the first film to be made by Columbia’s British studio but, despite a script by Guy Bolton, the film was a failure. He did not make another film until 1947, when his role as a town hall clerk issuing ration books and identity cards in Frieda started a long and active period as a supporting player, contributing telling cameos to some of the best comedies of the era including The Man in the White Suit (1951), Laughter in Paradise (1952) and The Belles of St Trinian’s (1954).

Arthur Howard in Passport to Pimlico (1949)(left)

ABOVE – In Passport to Pimlico 1949

Arthur Howard

ABOVE – Arthur Howard a signed picture

In Henry Cornelius’s classic Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico (1949) he was a councillor in favour of selling wasteland to prospectors rather than accept Stanley Holloway’s plans for a playground, and in Frank Launder’s hilarious The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950), in which a girls’ school is unwittingly billeted with a boys’, he was the distracted science master barely aware of the chaos being generated around him.

He was a butler in both David Lean’s The Passionate Friends (1948) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright (1950) and in Sidney Gilliat’s atmospheric story of life in a London boarding house London Belongs to Me (1948) he was the head of the “South London Psychical Society”, offering lobster-paste sandwiches to members before a seance.

In Lewis Gilbert’s Cosh Boy (1952), controversial in its day for its depiction of juvenile crime, he was the registrar who marries the delinquent’s widowed mother to the man who brings discipline to the boy’s life.

Arthur Howard

 

Whack-O!, which started on radio before achieving its very suddessful run on television (1956-60), made him a household name as the none-too-bright assistant to Jimmy Edwards’s conniving and often inebriated headmaster.

Written by Frank Muir and Dennis Norden, the series became a feature film, Bottoms Up!, in 1960 with Athur Howard in his original role, though when the series was revived on television in 1971 Julian Orchard played Pettigrew.

Arthur Howard

Other television appearances included guest spots on George and Mildred, Robin’s Nest, Ever Decreasing Circles, Happy Ever After, Never the Twain, The Eric Sykes Show and, as Professor Plum, the children’s series Plum’s Pots and Pans.

Arthur Howard played in a season of Crossroads, in 1984, and appeared last year in “The Last Englishman”, an episode of Heroes and Villains.

His stage work included classics (the Duke of York in Richard II at the Ludlow Festival: Love for Love at the Bristol Old Vic, the Earl of Caversham in An Ideal Husband at Greenwich) and modern farce (several years in No Sex, Please, We’re British). His later films included Moonraker (1979) and Another Country (1984); his last screen appearance was in Tristram Powell’s American Friends (1990).

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have Comment (1)

One Response to “Arthur Howard – Wacko and the film ‘Bottoms Up’”

  1. Waynebew says:

    Cialis cialis or viagra cialis coupon code

Place your comment

Please fill your data and comment below.
Name
Email
Website
Your comment

*