William Tell

Conrad Phillips played William Tell in the ITV series of the 1950s – it followed the success of Robin Hood with Richard Greene that had been a worldwide hit for ITV – but somehow William Tell didn’t make the same impact  although it was popular, Jennifer Jayne played William Tell’s wife Hedda , and his adversary throughout the series was Landburgher Gessler played very impressively by Willoughby Goddard. Conrad Phillips and his son in the Tree House Conrad Phillip at Home – ABOVE and BELOW Conrad Phillips with his Wife and son

 The Above Picture is with his first wife  Jean Moir – and his son.

Conrad Phillip’s marriage to Jean Moir, a fellow student at Rada, in 1949, ended in divorce. Their son, Patrick, died in 1982.

His second wife was  Jennie Slatter, whom he married in 1968, and had two daughters, Kate and Sarah. He also had two grandchildren, Alice and Leo.

Actor Conrad Phillips, who gained fame in the 1950s as the star of The Adventures of William Tell, has revealed his swashbuckling adventures nearly cost him his life in his Autobiography  titled  Aiming True.

The book begins in the late 1930s when he joined the Navy aged 17 in the Second World War and goes on to follow his career as an actor.

He said it was tough to be an actor as a family man because he did not always get a regular pay packet, and he often had to be away from home, but playing William Tell in the black and white television series that ran for 39 episodes was a big thrill.

He said: “It was an adventure every week, I had sword fights, knife fights and fist fights every week and we were always up against time to shoot the film.

“I did the last episode from a wheelchair. During the first shot I came out and jumped and broke my ankle.

“I was sword fighting from a wheelchair and someone else did the long shots.”

However, that wasn’t the only danger the father-of-two faced while filming for the show.

Mr Phillips recalled: “Once I was sitting on a horse being hanged with my hands tied behind my back when the clapper board snapped shut.

“The moment the horse heard the noise, it reared up.

“I just got my hands free to swing onto the scaffolding, otherwise I would have been hanged.”

Mr Phillips, who wrote his autobiography while living in Normandy for 20 years with his wife Jennie, hopes to inspire young actors. He will give a talk to the Chippenham Youth Theatre on April 23.

His nine-year-old granddaughter, Alice Atkinson, is a member of the theatre group.

Mr Phillips said: “I had a very humble background and eventually became the star for a television series which was sold all over the world.

“From humble beginnings you can make anything work.

Willoughby Goddard had a long and varied career – an Actor who preferred the stage and did quite a lot of Shakespearean roles.

He became one of British television’s most famous character actors. I remember him mainly for William Tell but also for an appearance in

The Avengers – in fact when I checked he had made Two such appearances.

The burly, 20-stone actor was best known for his role as the villainous Landburgher Gessler in the long-running fifties adventure series The Adventures of William Tell. The series was sold all over the world and featured early appearances by stars such as Christopher Lee and Michael Caine.

Goddard found further fame playing Sir Jason Toovey in the Thames TV detectice drama The Mind of Mr J G Reeder (1969-71). The Thames TV detective drama ran from 1969-71 and was based on the twenties stories of Edgar Wallace.

Born Willoughby Wittenham Rees Goddard in Bicester, Oxfordshire on July 4, 1926, Goddard also had a distinguished stage career appearing in plays at the Royal Court Theatre and in the West End. He made his first appearance on stage at the Oxford Playhouse as the Steward in Saint Joan and he made his West End debut in 1948 at the Arts Theatre and Gog and Magog.

Throughout the fifties and sixties, he divided his time equally between West End theatre and television roles. Among his most notable stage credits were The Diary of a Nobody (1955), The Power and the Glory (1960) and The Lily White Boys (1960). He played Mr Bumble in the original Broadway production of Oliver! and orginated the role of Cardinal Wolsey in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons. In 1968, he played a memorable Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night for the Prospect Theatre Company.

He won critical acclaim for his role as Marmaduke Muleygrubs in the musical Jorrocks and in 1980 he played the Duke of Venice opposite Donald Sinden’s Othello for the RSC. In 1984 he was seen at the Old Vic in John Arden’s Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance.

The Adventures of William Tell brought him worldwide fame but he was also seen to great effect in series such as Space 1999, The Invisible Man, Public Eye and Richard the Lionheart. He also appeared in several TV comedies such as The Charlie Drake Comedy Hour.

He was also a prolific film actor and played leading roles in The Green Man, The Millionairess, The Wrong Box, The Charge of the Light Brigade and Porterhouse Blue.

He had been suffering from arthritis for many years and died on April 11, 2008. He was married to Ann Phillips, with whom he had a son

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