John Paton Laurie (25 March 1897 – 23 June 1980) was a Scottish actor. Throughout a long career, Laurie performed a wide range of theatre and film work. He is perhaps best remembered to modern audiences for his role as Private Frazer in the sitcom Dad's Army (1968–1977). Laurie appeared in scores of feature films with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Powell, and Laurence Olivier, generally playing bit-parts or supporting roles rather than leading roles. He was also a stage actor (particularly in Shakespearean roles) and speaker of verse, especially of Robert Burns.
John Paton Laurie
25 March 1897
|Died||23 June 1980 83) (aged|
Florence May Saunders
(m. 1925; died 1926)
Oonah Veronica Todd-Naylor
John Paton Laurie was born on 25 March 1897 in Dumfries, Dumfriesshire to William Laurie (1856–1903), a clerk in a tweed mill and later a hatter and hosier, and Jessie Ann Laurie (née Brown; 1858–1935). Laurie attended Dumfries Academy (a grammar school at the time), before abandoning a career in architecture to serve in the First World War as a member of the Honourable Artillery Company. Upon his demobilisation, he trained to become an actor under Elsie Fogerty at the Central School of Speech and Drama, then based at the Royal Albert Hall, London and first acted on stage in 1921.
A prolific Shakespearean actor, Laurie spent much of the time between 1922 and 1939 playing parts, including in Hamlet, Richard III, and Macbeth at the Old Vic or Stratford-upon-Avon. He featured in Laurence Olivier's three Shakespearean films, Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948), and Richard III (1955). He and Olivier also appeared in As You Like It (1936). During the Second World War, Laurie served in the Home Guard.
John Laurie comment on Dad's Army recalled by Ian Lavender.
Laurie's early films included Juno and the Paycock (1930), directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The actor's breakthrough third film was Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (1935) in which he played a crofter. Other roles included Peter Manson in Michael Powell's The Edge of the World (1937), Clive Candy's batman in Powell and Pressburger's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), a gardener in Medal for the General (1944), the farmer recruit in The Way Ahead (1944), and the brothel proprietor in Fanny by Gaslight (1944). In the film I Know Where I'm Going! (1945), another Powell and Pressburger production, Laurie had a small speaking part in a céilidh sequence for which he was also credited as an adviser. In the next decade, he played the repugnant Pew in Disney's Treasure Island (1950), Angus in Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951), and Dr. MacFarlane in Hobson's Choice (1954).
Laurie's role as Private Frazer, the gaunt-faced, intense, pessimistic undertaker, and British Home Guard soldier in the sitcom Dad's Army (1968–1977) remains his best known TV role, although he featured in many British series of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s including Tales of Mystery, Doctor Finlay's Casebook, and The Avengers.
Laurie starred as Mad Peter in the Hammer film The Reptile (1966), and later appeared in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), the Disney film One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing (1975), and The Prisoner of Zenda (1979). One of his last appearances, looking slightly frail, was in Return to the Edge of the World (1978), in which Michael Powell revisited his earlier film of forty years before. Laurie's final work was in the BBC Radio 2 comedy series Tony's (1979) along with Victor Spinetti and Deborah Watling.
Laurie was married twice; his first wife, Florence May Saunders, whom he had met at the Old Vic, died in 1926. His second wife was Oonah Veronica Todd-Naylor. Together they had a daughter, Veronica (1939). He died aged 83 from emphysema in the Chalfont and Gerrards Cross Hospital, Chalfont St Peter. His wife died ten years later (1901–1990).
|1930||Juno and the Paycock||Johnny Boyle|
|1935||The 39 Steps||John the crofter|
|Her Last Affaire||Robb|
|Tudor Rose||John Knox||Uncredited|
|1936||Born That Way||Mc Tavish|
|East Meets West||Dr. Fergusson|
|As You Like It||Oliver|
|1937||The Windmill||Mons. Coutard|
|Farewell Again||Private McAllister|
|Jericho||Hassan||Also known as Dark Sands|
|The Edge of the World||Peter Manson|
|There Was a Young Man||Stranger|
|1938||The Duchess of Malfi||Ferdinand of Aragon||TV movie|
|The Claydon Treasure Mystery||Wilson - the Valet||Uncredited|
|White Secret||MacDonald||TV movie|
|A Royal Divorce||Joseph Bonaparte|
|The Last Voyage of Captain Grant||Captain Grant||TV movie|
|The Ware Case||Henson, the gamekeeper|
|1939||Mary Rose||Cameron||TV movie|
|Bees on the Boat-Deck||Gaster||TV movie|
|Q Planes||Newspaper Editor||Uncredited|
|The Four Feathers||The Khalifa|
|1940||Laugh It Off||Jock|
|1941||The Ghost of St. Michael's||Jamie|
|Old Mother Riley's Ghosts||McAdam|
|Dangerous Moonlight||Wing Commander|
|1942||Ships with Wings||Lt. Comdr. Reid|
|1943||The Gentle Sex||Alexander Balfour, Scots corporal|
|The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp||Murdoch|
|The Demi-Paradise||British Sailor|
|The Lamp Still Burns||Mr. Hervey|
|The New Lot||Harry Fyfe||Short, Uncredited|
|1944||Fanny by Gaslight||William Hopwood|
|The Way Ahead||Pvt. Luke|
|Medal for the General||McNab|
|Men of Rochdale||Mr. Ferguson||Short|
|1945||The World Owes Me a Living||Matthews|
|Great Day||Scottish sergeant|
|The Agitator||Tom Tetley|
|I Know Where I'm Going!||John Campbell|
|Caesar and Cleopatra||1st. Auxiliary Sentinel|
|Read All About It||John||Short, Uncredited|
|Two Gentlemen of Soho||Sneak||TV movie|
|School for Secrets||Dr. Jock McVitie|
|1947||The Brothers||Dugald McLeod / Alistair MacDonald|
|Mine Own Executioner||Dr. James Garsten|
|Bonnie Prince Charlie||Blind Jamie|
|Treasure Island||Blind Pew|
|Trio||Mr. Campbell||(segment "Sanatorium")|
|No Trace||Inspector MacDougall|
|1951||Pandora and the Flying Dutchman||Angus|
|Happy Go Lovely||Jonskill|
|Laughter in Paradise||Gordon Webb|
|Encore||Andrews, Engineer||(segment "Winter Cruise")|
|Tread Softly||Angus McDonald|
|Too Many Detectives||Edward Potter||Short|
|Potter of the Yard||Short|
|1953||The Great Game||Mac Wells|
|Captain Brassbound's Conversion||Rankin||TV movie|
|Henry V||Pistol||TV movie|
|The Fake||Henry Mason|
|Johnny on the Run||Policeman|
|Strange Stories||Mr. Bartleby|
|Mr. Beamish Goes South||Edward Potter||Short|
|Love in Pawn||McCutcheon|
|1954||Hobson's Choice||Dr. McFarlane|
|Calling Scotland Yard: The Sable Scarf||Short|
|Devil Girl from Mars||"Jamie" Jamieson|
|The Black Knight||James, the servant|
|Destination Milan||Walter McHarry|
|1956||Festival Fever||Annie's father||TV movie|
|A Day of Grace||Uncle Henry||Short|
|1957||Murder Reported||Mac North - Editor|
|1958||Next to No Time||Abercrombie, Scottish Director|
|Rockets Galore!||Capt. MacKechnie||Uncredited|
|1961||Don't Bother to Knock||Taxi Driver|
|One Way Pendulum||Judge||TV movie|
|1963||Siege of the Saxons||Merlin|
|Ladies Who Do||Dr. MacGregor|
|1964||Eagle Rock||Mr. McTavish||Voice|
|1966||The Reptile||Mad Peter|
|1967||Mister Ten Per Cent||The Scotsman|
|1970||Step Laughing Into the Grave||TV movie|
|1971||Dad's Army||Private Frazer|
|The Abominable Dr. Phibes||Darrow|
|1974||Charles Dickens' World of Christmas||TV movie|
|1975||One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing||Jock|
|1976||Crime Casebook||George Winterman / Sellens||Short|
|1979||The Prisoner of Zenda||Archbishop||(final film role)|
Partial television credits
|1938||The Duchess Of Malfi||Ferdinand of Aragon||Single drama|
|The Last Voyage of Captain Grant||Captain Grant||Single drama|
|Mary Rose||Cameron||Single drama|
|1939||Bees on the Boat-Deck||Gaster||Single drama|
|1952||The Three Hostages||Insp. MacGillivray||Four episodes|
|1961-1963||Tales of Mystery||Host / Algernon Blackwood||29 episodes|
|1963||Steptoe and Son||The Vet||Episode "Wallah, Wallah Catsmeat"|
|1965||Z Cars||Dr Ferguson||Episode "Partners"|
|Emergency-Ward 10||Professor Corliss||Six episodes|
|1968-1977||Dad's Army||Private Frazer||80 episodes, recurring role|
|1971||From a Bird's Eye View||Scottish Lord McBracken||One episode alongside Dads Army co-star Clive Dunn|
- GRO Register of Deaths: JUN 1980 19 1081 CHILTERN/B - John Paton Laurie, DoB = 25 Mar 1897
- "John Laurie". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- "iTunes - Music - John Laurie". apple.com. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- "John Laurie". BFI. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- V&A, Theatre and Performance Special Collections, Elsie Fogerty Archive, THM/324
- "BFI Screenonline: Laurie, John (1897-1980) Biography". screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- Hal Erickson. "John Laurie - Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- Matt Goddard (14 November 2012). "Dad's Army uncovered: 35 things you need to know about the BBC comedy classic". mirror.
- Ian Lavender Birmingham Press Interview Retrieved 10 March 2013
- "John Laurie - Movies and Filmography - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- "BBC - Archive - Dad's Army at 40 - Letter from John Laurie". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- "John Laurie". TV.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- "BFI Screenonline: Return to the Edge of the World (1978)". screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- "Tony's". RadioTimes. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- The Times, death notice, 25 June 1980
- Radio Times (17 January 1938), The Duchess Of Malfi, 58, BBC Television, p. 17
- Radio Times (9 November 1938), The Last Voyage of Captain Grant, 61, BBC Television, p. 18
- Radio Times (30 December 1938), Mary Rose, 61, BBC Television, p. 16
- Radio Times (17 January 1939), Bees on the Boat-Deck, 61, BBC Television, p. 16