Jack Warner (actor)

Jack Warner, OBE (born Horace John Waters, 24 October 1895 – 24 May 1981) was a British film and television actor. He is closely associated with the role of PC George Dixon, which he played in the 1950 film The Blue Lamp and later in the television series Dixon of Dock Green from 1955 until 1976, but he was also for some years one of Great Britain's most popular film stars.

Jack Warner

Horace John Waters

(1895-10-24)24 October 1895
Bromley-by-Bow, London, England
Died24 May 1981(1981-05-24) (aged 85)
London, England
Resting placeEast London Cemetery, London, England
Years active1943–1978
Known forDixon of Dock Green
Muriel Peters (m. 1933)

Life and career

Early life

Warner was born Horace John Waters[1] in Bromley, Poplar, London, the third child of Edward William Waters, master fulling maker and undertaker's warehouseman, and Maud Mary Best.[2] His sisters Elsie and Doris Waters were well-known comedians who usually performed as "Gert and Daisy".[3]

Warner attended the Coopers' Company's Grammar School for Boys in Mile End,[4] while his sisters both attended the nearby sister school, Coborn School for Girls in Bow. The three children were choristers at St. Leonard's Church, Bromley-by-Bow, and for a time, Warner was the choir's soloist.[4]

On leaving school he studied automobile engineering at the Northampton Institute (now part of the City University, London) but being more practical than academic he left after a year to work at the repair facilities of F.W. Berwick and Company in Balham,[2] where he started by sweeping the floors for 2d per hour.[5] Frederick William Berwick became a partner in the Anglo-French automobile manufacturing company Sizaire-Berwick and in August 1913 Warner was sent to work as a mechanic in Paris. He drove completed chassis to the coast from where they were shipped to England, road-testing them en route[6] He acquired a working knowledge of French which stood him in good stead throughout his life, an imitation of Maurice Chevalier became a part of his repertoire.[2]

During the First World War he served in France as a driver in the Royal Flying Corps and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 1918. He returned to England and the motor trade in 1919, graduating from hearses to occasional car racing at Brooklands. He was over thirty before he became a professional entertainer.[2]

Acting career

Warner first made his name in music hall and radio. By the early years of the Second World War, he was nationally known and starred in a BBC radio comedy show Garrison Theatre, invariably opening with, "A Monologue Entitled...".

Warner's first film was The Dummy Talks (1943), in which he had the lead role.

He had a support role in The Captive Heart (1946), a successful film. Also popular was Hue and Cry (1947) and Dear Murderer (1947).

Film stardom

Warner first really made his mark as a movie star as the patriarch of the Hugget family in Holiday Camp (1947) which was a big hit. He played a policeman in It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) another popular movie and was another family man in the comedy Easy Money (1948).

He was in a war film Against the Wind (1948) and starred in a thriller My Brother's Keeper (1948). The Huggett family had been so well received in Holiday Camp that Gainsborough decided to give them their own series, so Warner was seen in Here Come the Huggetts (1948), Vote for Huggett (1949) and The Huggetts Abroad (1949). Warner was one of several names in Train of Events (1949) and played the governor of a borstal institution in Boys in Brown (1949).

Warner was already established as one of the most popular British actors in the country. His stock rose further when he played PC George Dixon in The Blue Lamp (1950), the most seen film at the box office that year.[7][8] One observer predicted, "This film will make Jack the most famous policeman in Britain".[8]

Warner did a comedy, Talk of a Million (1951) and a thriller Valley of Eagles (1951). He had a small part in Scrooge (1951) then played a policeman again in Emergency Call (1952). He was one of several stars in Meet Me Tonight (1952) and returned to comedy for Those People Next Door (1953). He was top billed in The Square Ring (1953) and The Final Test (1953). In the POW film Albert R.N. (1953) he was billed beneath Anthony Steel.

Warner then made some thrillers, Bang! You're Dead (1954) and Forbidden Cargo (1954). He co-starred in the 1955 Hammer film version of The Quatermass Xperiment and as a police superintendent in the 1955 Ealing Studios black comedy The Ladykillers.

Dixon of Dock Green

Although the police constable he played in The Blue Lamp was shot dead in the film, the character was revived in 1955 for the BBC television series Dixon of Dock Green, which ran until 1976. In later years though, Warner and his long-past-retirement-age character were confined to a less prominent desk sergeant role. The series had a prime-time slot on Saturday evenings, and always opened with Dixon giving a little soliloquy to the camera, beginning with the words, "Good evening, all". According to Warner's autobiography, Jack of All Trades, Elizabeth II once visited the television studio where the series was made and told Warner "that she thought Dixon of Dock Green had become part of the British way of life".[9]

Warner still made the occasional film such as Now and Forever (1956), Home and Away (1956), Carve Her Name with Pride (1958) and Jigsaw (1962). His last film appearance was in Dominique (1978).

Personal life

Warner married Muriel Winifred (Mollie) Peters, a company secretary, in 1933. They had no children.[10]

Warner was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1965.[11] In 1973, he was made a Freeman of the City of London. Warner commented in his autobiography that the honour "entitles me to a set of 18th century rules for the conduct of life urging me to be sober and temperate". Warner added, "Not too difficult with Dixon to keep an eye on me!"[12]

He died of pneumonia in London in 1981, aged 85. The characterisation by Warner of Dixon was held in such high regard that officers from Paddington Green Police Station bore the coffin at his funeral.[13]

Warner is buried in East London Cemetery.


Year Film Role Notes
1943 The Dummy Talks Jack
1946 The Captive Heart Cpl. Horsfall
1947 Hue and Cry Nightingale
Dear Murderer Insp. Penbury
Holiday Camp Joe Huggett
It Always Rains on Sunday Detective Sergeant Fothergill
1948 Easy Money Philip Stafford
Against the Wind Max Cronk
My Brother's Keeper George Martin
Here Come the Huggetts Joe Huggett
1949 Vote for Huggett Joe Huggett
The Huggetts Abroad Joe Huggett
Train of Events Jim Hardcastle (segment: "The Engine Driver")
Boys in Brown Governor
1950 The Services Show TV series
The Blue Lamp PC George Dixon
1951 Talk of a Million Bartley Murnahan
Valley of Eagles Inspector Peterson
Scrooge Mr. Jorkin
1952 The Monster of Killoon Bill Anderson TV film
Emergency Call Inspector Lane
Meet Me Tonight Murdoch: Ways and Means
1953 Those People Next Door Sam Twigg
The Square Ring Danny Felton
The Final Test Sam Palmer
Albert R.N. Capt. Maddox
1954 Bang! You're Dead Bonsell
Forbidden Cargo Maj. Alec White
1955 The Quatermass Xperiment Insp. Lomax
The Ladykillers The Superintendent
Dixon of Dock Green P.C. (later Sgt) George Dixon TV series (432 episodes: 1955–1976)
1956 Now and Forever Mr. J. Pritchard
Home and Away George Knowles
1958 Carve Her Name with Pride Mr. Bushell
1960 Upgreen – And at 'Em
1962 Jigsaw Det. Insp. Fred Fellows
1978 Dominique George (final film role)

Box office ranking

For a number of years, British film exhibitors voted him among the top ten British stars at the box office via an annual poll in the Motion Picture Herald.

  • 1948 – 7th most popular British star[14]
  • 1949 – 10th most popular British star[15]
  • 1950 – 3rd (5th most popular overall)[16]
  • 1952 – 8th most popular British star[17]
  • 1953 – 7th most popular British star


  1. Warner (1975), p. 2.
  2. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. OUP Oxford.
  3. Warner (1975), pp. 74–75.
  4. Warner (1975), p. 10.
  5. Tell Me Another, personal anecdotes as told to Dick Hills. Southern Television, first broadcast 10 August 1977.
  6. "Grace's Guide to British Industrial History". Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  7. "Critics Praise Drama: Comedians Win Profits". The Sydney Morning Herald (35, 264). New South Wales, Australia. 29 December 1950. p. 3. Retrieved 2 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  8. Warner (1975), p. 108.
  9. Warner (1975), p. 84.
  10. "Careful. It might bring a lump in you throat!". www.newhamstory.co.uk. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  11. Warner (1975), p. 201.
  12. Warner (1975), p. 207.
  13. Sydney-Smith (2002), pp. 105–106.
  14. 'BRITTEN'S "RAPE OF LUCRETIA": NEW YORK DIVIDED', The Manchester Guardian (1901–1959) [Manchester (UK)] 31 Dec 1948: 8.
  15. "Bob Hope Takes Lead from Bing In Popularity". The Canberra Times. 31 December 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 24 April 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  16. "Success Of British Films." Times [London, England] 29 Dec. 1950: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012
  17. "COMEDIAN TOPS FILM POLL". The Sunday Herald. Sydney. 28 December 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 27 April 2012 via National Library of Australia.


  • Sydney-Smith, Susan (2002). Beyond Dixon of Dock Green: Early British Police Series. London: I. B. Tauris. ISBN 1-86064-790-1
  • Warner, Jack (1975). Jack of All Trades: The Autobiography of Jack Warner. London: W.H. Allen. ISBN 0-491-01952-1
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.