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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. Lyrics include: "complete control for Cassavetes/if it's not for sale you can't buy it". Brambell himself died less than three years later, of cancer. Fugazi, a rock music group who shared Cassavetes' independently-minded aesthetic, titled a song after the filmaker on their 1993 In On The Killtaker album. 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. Rather, Rowlands reports, the actors would improvise from Cassavetes' scripts during rehersals, then Cassavetes would rewrite scenes based on the improvisations. On one occasion, Brambell used bad language and was openly derogatory about the Australian people in an interview. Though Cassavetes allowed and even encouraged his actors to ad lib while filming, only very rarely, she says, were entire scenes filmed as they were being improvised.

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. Rowlands has stated that the role of improvisation in Cassavetes films has frequently been misunderstood. 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. His son, Nick Cassavetes, followed in his father's footsteps, and made 1997's She's So Lovely from the elder Cassavetes's screenplay, and directed 2004's The Notebook. 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. He was survived by Rowlands, who continued to act, and three children. Indeed, when he first became famous for Steptoe and Son, it was still illegal in the UK. The intense effort took its toll; an alcoholic, Cassavetes died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1989 at the age of only 59.

Brambell was also a homosexual, at a time when it was very difficult, almost impossible, for public figures to be so. He lived to make film, and sacrificed his colleagues and himself to the process. 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. Cassavetes's personality was overpowering and driven. 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. Already ill, he was heartbroken that it would be the last film he would do. Brambell had a difficult private life: he and Harry H. The movie, racked by incompatible studio and director edits, was, in Cassavetes's words, "a disaster".

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!". Sadly, Cassavetes's last movie, Big Trouble (1986), was a last-minute project picked up as a favor when a younger director friend peremptorily quit the project. 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. Love Streams (1984) starred Cassavetes as an aging lothario who suffers the overbearing affection of his recently divorced sister. In the latter, Brambell's part was taken by Red Foxx. Cassavetes continued to work through the 1980s, although personal troubles with alcohol were beginning to take their toll. Gloria (1980) is a more conventional thriller starring Rowlands as a mob moll who runs off with a young boy orphaned by the mob and soon to be next. 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. Author Christos Tsiolkas said of Bookie that it showed "being a man means knowing gutlessness better than knowing courage, that failure stays with you long after success.".

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. Driven by fear and uncertainty, Vitelli deceives friend and foe alike. 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. Ben Gazzara plays Cosmo Vitelli, a small-time strip-club owner with an out-of-control gambling habit, who is convinced by mobsters to commit a murder to pay off his debt. All of these roles earned him a reputation for playing old men, though he was only at the time in his forties. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) was a movie about the experience of men as much as Influence was about women. 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). Rowlands is an expert collaborator in the story, playing Mabel with subtlety and energy; she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, while Cassavetes was nominated for Best Director.

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. The wife's behavior, while disturbing and disconcerting for those around her, is not obviously dangerous or unstable. The characters were nuanced, and the ethical situations were measured in shades of gray. Peter Falk played her husband, who tries to keep up a facade of normality, but ultimately makes the difficult decision of committing her to a mental institution. A Woman Under the Influence (1974) stars Rowlands as an increasingly eccentric housewife trying to keep her hold on reality.

His two masterpieces of the 1970s, however, were made independently. Another in the 1970s include Minnie and Moskovitz, about a misdirected young woman seeking love, and starring Rowlands again with a small part for Cassavetes's mother, Katherine. They play a trio of men escaping their marriages for minor peccadillos. Husbands (1970) starred Cassavetes himself, with Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara.

He had enough leverage at this point that he could make movies in the studio system, yet retain full creative control. After Faces Cassavetes could concentrate more fully on his directorial work. Faces was a critical and financial success, nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Supporting Actor and Actress). Cassavetes held an unflinching camera on the pettiness and emotional greed of the distancing husband and wife and their lovers, but in the end the pathos of their story gives them an unexpected dignity.

Starring Cassavetes's wife Rowlands, Faces depicted a contemporary suburban marriage in the process of slow disintegration, with the accompanying desperate and degrading sexual improprieties. His next independent film was Faces, which lay down new themes for later work. He didn't just clockwatch as an actor, though; he did masterly work in blockbuster hits of the late 1960s, including World War II epic The Dirty Dozen (1967) — for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor — and Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968). His strategy, brought on by necessity, was to work as an actor in mainstream movies, and channel the funds he made there into his work as a director.

Cassavetes refused to go through the process again. The intervention of the studios, the lack of creative control, and the over-all dumbing down of his work was unbearable. Although the viewership of Shadows in the United States was slight, it did gain attention from the Hollywood studios. Cassavetes directed two movies for Hollywood in the early 1960s — Too Late Blues and A Child is Waiting — but the experience was exasperating. European distributors later released the movie in the United States as an import.

Cassavetes was unable to get American distributors to carry Shadows, so he took it to Europe, where it won the Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival. Cassavetes raised the funds for production from friends and family, as well as listeners to a late-night radio talk show. An improvisation exercise in one workshop inspired the idea for his writing and directorial debut, Shadows (1960). By 1956 Cassavetes had begun teaching method acting in workshops in New York City.

During this time he met and married actress Gena Rowlands, a fellow television actor. His experience working within television's budgetary and schedule limits influenced his later film production style. Cassavetes also acted on television, which was still finding its feet as a medium. By 1953, he was doing small parts in films; he continued to play a James Dean-like "juvenile delinquent" throughout the 1950s.

On graduation in 1950, he continued acting in the theater. He grew up in Long Island and attended Colgate University before moving to the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts. Cassavetes was born in New York City to Greek immigrants. Film critic Ray Carney called him "the father of American independent film".

John Cassavetes (December 9, 1929 - February 3, 1989) was an American actor, screenwriter, and director. Cassavetes created an American form of cinema verite with his innovative camera use, bleak outlook, and emphasis on improvisation. Love Streams (1984). Gloria (1980). The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976).

A Woman Under the Influence (1974). Minnie and Moskowitz (1971). Husbands (1970). Faces (1968).

Shadows (1959).

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