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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. He was killed in a car accident, his pink Thunderbird crashing against a truck at the first light of dawn. Brambell himself died less than three years later, of cancer. Buscaglione died unexpectedly at 40. 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. He appeared on advertising campaigns, on television, in movies, where he always played his amiable braggart role. On one occasion, Brambell used bad language and was openly derogatory about the Australian people in an interview. By the end of 1950s, Buscaglione was one of Italy's most demanded entertainers, not just singers.

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. They wrote together the hits that brought nation-wide fame to Buscaglione: Che bambola, Teresa non sparare, Eri piccola cosė, Guarda che luna, Love in Portofino, Porfirio Villarosa, Whisky facile. 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 friend Leo Chiosso, a lyricist who formed a very good songwriting duo with Buscaglione, provided him with humorous stories about gangsters and their babes, New York and Chicago, tough men who were ruthless with enemies but easily fell victims to a woman's charms. 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 the meantime he was gradually creating his public character, inspired by Clark Gable and Mickey Spillane's gangsters. Indeed, when he first became famous for Steptoe and Son, it was still illegal in the UK. He then formed his own group, the Asternovas.

Brambell was also a homosexual, at a time when it was very difficult, almost impossible, for public figures to be so. After the war, Buscaglione returned to Turin and resumed working as a musician for various bands. 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. Most foreign music had been officially forbidden by the Italian Fascist regime. 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. Some military understood his musical talent, and had him joint the orchestra of the allied radio station of Cagliari. This enabled Buscaglione to continue to make music in those war years, and to experiment with new sounds and rhythms coming from the US. Brambell had a difficult private life: he and Harry H. During World War II, he ended up in a US internment camp in Sardinia.

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!". During his teen years, he performed in his hometown's night clubs as jazz singer or playing double bass and violin. 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. When he was 11, his parents enrolled him at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Turin. In the latter, Brambell's part was taken by Red Foxx. His great passion for music showed up at a very young age. 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. His public persona - the character he played both in his songs and his movies - was a humorous mobster with a penchant for whisky and women.

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. Ferdinando "Fred" Buscaglione (Turin, 23 November 1921 - Rome, 3 February 1960) was an Italian singer and actor who became very popular in late 1950s. 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. All of these roles earned him a reputation for playing old men, though he was only at the time in his forties. 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).

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.

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