Arthur Lowe, one of Britain’s best-loved comedy actors, whose most famous role was in Dad’s Army, died on 15 April, 1982, aged 66.During a lengthy career Mr Lowe notched up dozens of credits in some of the most popular television shows of his day, including Coronation Street, which turned him into a household name.He also had a successful film career, winning a BAFTA in 1973 for Best Supporting Actor in O Lucky Man! But for thousands of TV viewers he will be best remembered as the pompous, bumbling Captain Mainwaring in the wartime sitcom Dad’s Army.Arthur Lowe was born in Hayfield, Derbyshire, on 22 September, 1915, to parents Arthur and Mary Lowe. In his early life he intended to join the Merchant Navy, although he was unable to enlist due to his failing eyesight.He found work instead at an aircraft factory and then joined the army just as the Second World War was about to start. He went on to see active service in the Middle East. It was during his stint in the military that Mr Lowe was bitten by the acting bug as he was heavily involved in putting on shows for the other troops.Mr Lowe made his professional acting debut at the Hulme Hippodrome in Manchester in 1945. He quickly became known for his character acting and had parts in Call Me Madam, Pal Joey and The Pajama Game.In 1948 Mr Lowe married Joan Cooper. They had first met in 1945 when she had been his leading lady at the Hulme Hippodrome. They were happily married and stayed together until Mr Lowe’s death. Their only child, Stephen, was born in 1953.By the 1960s Mr Lowe was a regular on TV screens and landed a part in Coronation Street as the draper and lay preacher Leonard Swindley. His performances proved to be so popular with viewers that he was given his own shows, Pardon the Expression in 1966, and the sequel, Turn out the Lights, in 1967.He also made guest appearances in various other long-running TV shows including Z-Cars and The Avengers.The actor also appeared in more than50 films, including prominent parts in the classic Lindsay Anderson films, This Sporting Life in 1963 and If … in 1968 with Malcolm McDowell, as well as a brief appearance in the Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets.In 1968 Mr Lowe was cast in what was to become his best-known role in Dad’s Army which followed the misadventures of the Home Guard in World War II. The show proved to be a huge success and went on to be performed on stage and on the radio. It was also made into a full-length feature film.Mr Lowe also enjoyed a relatively successful musical recording career. He released several singles for the Columbia and Spiral record labels. Perhaps his most famous song was the Dad’s Army theme tune Who Do You Think You’re Kidding, Mr Hitler?Even though Dad’s Army ended in 1977 Mr Lowe was often in demand to appear in other shows including Doctor at Large, The Morecambe and Wise Show and Bless Me Father, as well as continuing his stage and film career. He was the voice of Mr Beaver in the 1979 animated version of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.One of his last roles before he died was in the 1982 show Britannia Hospital. Following his death, his final sitcom, AJ Wentworth, BA was shown in July 1982.He collapsed after suffering a stroke in the dressing room at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham before a performance of Home at Seven. His ashes were scattered in Sutton Coldfield crematorium in the West Midlands.
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