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Wilfrid Brambell (1912-1985) (born March 22, 1912 in Dublin, Ireland; died January 18, 1985 in London, England, UK) was an Irish film and television actor, best known for his roles in the British television series Steptoe and Son and The Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night.

His television career began during the 1950s, when he was cast in small roles in three Nigel Kneale / Rudolph Cartier productions for BBC Television: as a drunk in The Quatermass Experiment (1953), as both an old man in a pub and later a prisoner in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954) and as a tramp in Quatermass II (1955). All of these roles earned him a reputation for playing old men, though he was only at the time in his forties.

It was this ability to play old men that led to his casting in his most famous role, as Albert Steptoe, the irascible father Steptoe and Son. Initially the role was merely a one-off for the BBC's Comedy Playhouse anthology strand: however, its success led to a full series being commissioned, which lasted throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s. There were also two feature film spin-offs, a stage show and an American re-make entitled Sanford and Son, based on the original British scripts. In the latter, Brambell's part was taken by Red Foxx.

The success of Steptoe and Son made Brambell a high profile figure on British television, and earned him the major role of Paul McCartney's grandfather in The Beatles' first film, A Hard Day's Night. A running joke is made throughout the film of his character being "a very clean old man." This is in reference to his on-screen son, Harold, in Steptoe and Son constantly referring to his father as "you dirty old man!"

Brambell had a difficult private life: he and Harry H. Corbett, who played Harold Steptoe in Steptoe and Son, detested each other, and were barely on speaking terms outside of takes by the end of the programme's run. In a series almost entirely based around the pair of them with no other regular characters, this made production of the series difficult and stressful.

Brambell was also a homosexual, at a time when it was very difficult, almost impossible, for public figures to be so. Indeed, when he first became famous for Steptoe and Son, it was still illegal in the UK. Earlier in his life he had been married, from 1948 to 1955, to Molly Josephine, but the marriage ended after she gave birth to the child of their lodger, Roderick Fisher, in 1953.

After the final series of Steptoe and Son was made in 1974, Brambell had some guest roles in films and on television, but both he and Corbett found themselves heavily type cast as their famous characters. In an attempt to take advantage of this situation, they undertook a tour of Australia in the late 1970s with a Steptoe and Son stage show: however, with the pair openly despising each other, the tour was a disaster and a working relationship proved impossible. On one occasion, Brambell used bad language and was openly derogatory about the Australian people in an interview. Brambell did, however appear on the BBC's television news to pay tribute to Corbett after the latter's death from a heart attack in 1982.

Brambell himself died less than three years later, of cancer. He was seventy-three. News of his death received far less attention than that of his co-star, and his funeral was sparsely attended.


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He was seventy-three. News of his death received far less attention than that of his co-star, and his funeral was sparsely attended. His son Jacon was born in 1998. Brambell himself died less than three years later, of cancer. He married Linda Stokes in 1996. Brambell did, however appear on the BBC's television news to pay tribute to Corbett after the latter's death from a heart attack in 1982. His first, in 1976, to Sheila Ryan, was short lived, and they divorced the next year. On one occasion, Brambell used bad language and was openly derogatory about the Australian people in an interview. Caan has been married twice.

In an attempt to take advantage of this situation, they undertook a tour of Australia in the late 1970s with a Steptoe and Son stage show: however, with the pair openly despising each other, the tour was a disaster and a working relationship proved impossible. He continues to act on screen and on television. After the final series of Steptoe and Son was made in 1974, Brambell had some guest roles in films and on television, but both he and Corbett found themselves heavily type cast as their famous characters. Amiable, down to earth and not afraid to tell it like it is, James Caan is a true gentleman, a tough guy with a heart of gold and a Hollywood survivor in every sense of the word. Earlier in his life he had been married, from 1948 to 1955, to Molly Josephine, but the marriage ended after she gave birth to the child of their lodger, Roderick Fisher, in 1953. In 1999, Caan joined the ranks of Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum and Powers Boothe when he portrayed Phillip Marlowe in the HBO film Poodle Springs. Indeed, when he first became famous for Steptoe and Son, it was still illegal in the UK. He co-starred with Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicolas Cage and hilariously spoofed his "Sonny Corleone" character from The Godfather.

Brambell was also a homosexual, at a time when it was very difficult, almost impossible, for public figures to be so. Caan made one of the most delightful films of his career in 1992 with the hit Honeymoon In Vegas. In a series almost entirely based around the pair of them with no other regular characters, this made production of the series difficult and stressful. In 1988 and 1990, Caan starred in the popular films Alien Nation and Misery (co-star Kathy Bates won a Best Actress Oscar). Corbett, who played Harold Steptoe in Steptoe and Son, detested each other, and were barely on speaking terms outside of takes by the end of the programme's run. He made a stirring return to film in 1987 when his old friend Francis Ford Coppola cast him as an Army Sergeant in Gardens Of Stone, a film that dealt with the effect of the Vietnam War on the homefront. Brambell had a difficult private life: he and Harry H. From 1982 to 1987, Caan did not act in any films. He was suffering from depression over his sister's death, a growing problem with cocaine, and what he described as Hollywood burnout.

A running joke is made throughout the film of his character being "a very clean old man." This is in reference to his on-screen son, Harold, in Steptoe and Son constantly referring to his father as "you dirty old man!". This film is today regarded as a film noir classic and Caan has often said it is the role he is proudest of next to The Godfather. The success of Steptoe and Son made Brambell a high profile figure on British television, and earned him the major role of Paul McCartney's grandfather in The Beatles' first film, A Hard Day's Night. The following year, Caan appeared in Thief, directed by Michael Mann, where he played a professional safe cracker. In the latter, Brambell's part was taken by Red Foxx. Despite critical praise, the film was not a hit. There were also two feature film spin-offs, a stage show and an American re-make entitled Sanford and Son, based on the original British scripts. Caan was a devoted family man all his life and said this film was a powerful one about family love and values.

Initially the role was merely a one-off for the BBC's Comedy Playhouse anthology strand: however, its success led to a full series being commissioned, which lasted throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s. In 1980, Caan directed Hide In Plain Sight a film about a father searching for his children lost in the Witness Protection Program. It was this ability to play old men that led to his casting in his most famous role, as Albert Steptoe, the irascible father Steptoe and Son. His many films include Cinderella Liberty, Freebie and The Bean, The Gambler, The Killer Elite, Rollerball, Harry And Walter Go To New York, A Bridge Too Far, Comes A Horseman and Chapter Two (a play screenplay conversion by Neil Simon). All of these roles earned him a reputation for playing old men, though he was only at the time in his forties. He played a wide variety of roles and refused to be typecast as a mobster. His television career began during the 1950s, when he was cast in small roles in three Nigel Kneale / Rudolph Cartier productions for BBC Television: as a drunk in The Quatermass Experiment (1953), as both an old man in a pub and later a prisoner in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954) and as a tramp in Quatermass II (1955). From 1973 to 1982, Caan appeared in many Hollywood films.

Wilfrid Brambell (1912-1985) (born March 22, 1912 in Dublin, Ireland; died January 18, 1985 in London, England, UK) was an Irish film and television actor, best known for his roles in the British television series Steptoe and Son and The Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night. For his role Caan was nominated for an Academy Award. The following year Coppola cast Caan as mobster Sonny Corleone in The Godfather, which also helped launch Al Pacino's career. In 1971, Caan won even greater acclaim as dying football player Brian Piccolo in the television movie Brian's Song. Caan first won praise for his role as a brain-damaged football player in The Rain People (1969), directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

In 1967, Caan appeared in El Dorado with John Wayne. Caan's first substantial film role was as a menacing villain in the 1964 thriller Lady In A Cage. Caan began acting in television in such series as The Untouchables. James Caan (born March 26, 1939, Bronx, New York) is an American actor.

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