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Wilfrid Brambell March 22, 1912 - January 18, 1985

Brambell was an Irish film and television actor, born in Dublin, best known for his roles in the British television series Steptoe and Son and The Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night.

He was an actor in the Abbey Theatre and played an old drunk in The Quatermass Experiment.

It was this ability to play old men that led to his casting in his most famous role, as Albert Steptoe, the irascible father in Steptoe and Son, aired from 1962. His ‘son’ labelled him ‘a dirty old man’ which was a misnomer: the actor was clean, polite and well-spoken. However, he was also a homosexual at a time when it was almost impossible for public figures to be openly gay. Brambell was arrested and charged for 'cottaging' in the early 1960s and subsequently holidayed annually in Asia.

Earlier in his life he had been married, from 1948 to 1955, to Molly Josephine but the relationship ended after she gave birth to the child of their lodger, Roderick Fisher in 1953.

In 1983 Brambell appeared in Terence Davies' film Death and Transfiguration, playing a dying elderly man who finally comes to terms with his homosexuality.

Brambell himself died in London less than three years later, of cancer. He was seventy-three. His death was far less reported than that of Harry H. Corbett and few attended his funeral. Yet his flexography showed that he was a prolific actor.

Tones, Wellington, NZ

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