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
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"
Tv & Radio appearances…
The Black & White Minstrel Show 1960
Variety Playhouse 1962
Crowther's Crowd 1963
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. 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 . 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 , Review, Pantomime, and Seaside concert party , 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 , 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' 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 husband, 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 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 .
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 .
Leslie's career was once again in orbit but then came the horrendous car accident that effectively ended his stage and television career .
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 and in 1993 he went to Buckingham Palace to receive the CBE as recognition of this work .
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.
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