John Hewer

John Hewer (13 January 1922 16 March 2008) was an English actor and business manager who became familiar with audiences for playing Captain Birdseye in ads for Birds Eye.

John Hewer
John Hewer as Captain Birdseye
Born(1922-01-13)13 January 1922
Leyton, London, England
Died16 March 2008(2008-03-16) (aged 86)
OccupationActor
Spouse(s)Edna Hewer

Biography

Hewer was born in Leyton in London, the son of an engine driver. He attended Leyton High School following which he worked for the Social Services Department for London County Council (LCC) dealing with people who had problems paying their rent until World War II when he served as a navigator in the Fleet Air Arm with which he travelled to Vancouver and the Caribbean and witnessed the result of the Hiroshima bombing, but he never saw action. During the war Hewer performed with a group that entertained other service personnel.[1] On being demobbed he returned to working for LCC but feeling drawn to the stage he joined the Unity Theatre and became a stalwart of London's Players Theatre where he appeared throughout his career including in musical theatrical productions such as Sail Away and Six of One in London's West End theatre. The highlight of his theatrical career was starring opposite Julie Andrews in The Boy Friend on Broadway in the 1950s.[2]

His television work included hosting the 1970s Canadian CTV variety series The Pig and Whistle, but he his most familiar role was as the fictitious sailor Captain Birdseye, the mascot for Birds Eye frozen foods in scores of British TV commercials from 1967 to 1998. In a 1993 poll he was voted the most recognised naval captain after Captain Cook.[2]

With the actor Mike Hall he set up Hewer and Hall, the first conference production company in the UK to use the American model of "show business for business". The company presented conferences, product launches, training films and cabarets in the UK and across Europe; it was active in the late 1960s and early 70s and counted IBM, Mobil, Volkswagen, Beechams, and Gulf Oil among their clients.[1]

Hewer married Edna Vernon in 1943,[3] who predeceased him in 1998. Residing in Epping in his later years and finally Brinsworth House in Twickenham, London, Hewer died aged 86 on Sunday, 16 March 2008.[4] He was survived by a son and daughter.[2]

Selected filmography

References


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