Rita Webb

Rita Webb (born Olive Rita Webb; 25 February 1904 – 30 August 1981),[1] later known as Olive Rita Thompson, was an English character actress, mainly in comedy roles. She was the eldest child of Henry Augustus Webb (1880–1926) and Rose Jeannette Keysor.[2] She had a younger brother, Henry Richard Webb, also an actor, and two elder identical twin half-brothers, Leslie and Gordon Durlacher, from her mother's first marriage to Samuel Durlacher. She was the niece of Leonard Keysor, the first Jewish serviceman to win the Victoria Cross in the First World War. A half-brother was the actor George Webb.

Rita Webb
Olive Rita Webb

(1904-02-25)25 February 1904
Died30 August 1981(1981-08-30) (aged 77)
OccupationComedy actress
Years active1950–1981
Spouse(s)Lionel Stanley "Thommie" Thompson 1926-? (separated)
Henry Webb, actor
George Webb, actor


Born in Willesden, Middlesex, England, she is best known for her appearances as a stooge for Benny Hill in his long-running Thames Television series.[3] At under five feet tall, with a booming voice and dyed flame-red hair, she was often cast as a blowsey mother-in-law or Cockney type character. Her vital statistics were 48-inch (120 cm) bust, 46-inch (120 cm) waist, 46-inch (120 cm) hips, 4 feet 10 inches (1.47 m) in height and 15 stone (210 lb; 95 kg) in weight.

Following her separation from her husband, she lived with Al Jeffery "Jeffie", an accomplished banjo player, whom she adored. She was called "Podge" by Jeffie and was proud that she still had all her own teeth. She signed her letters: "Dame Rita Webb" and had refused to be on the This is Your Life TV show.[4] She and her brother were exceptionally close and they talked every night on the telephone until her death.

In the 1960s, she made a number of television appearances with Billy Cotton and alongside Arthur Haynes. Her many television credits include several appearances in Spike Milligan's Q series, Dixon of Dock Green, Till Death Us Do Part, Sykes, Up Pompeii! with Frankie Howerd and Steptoe and Son. She also appeared in supporting roles in many films including To Sir, with Love (1967), The Magic Christian (1969), Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972), Confessions of a Pop Performer (1975), and Come Play with Me (1977).[5]

In 1968, she appeared, in a cameo role, as a wrestling referee, in the Dave Clark television production Hold On, It's the Dave Clark Five.

Rita Webb died in 1981, aged 77. Her funeral was held at St Paul's Church, Covent Garden, the Actors' Church, after which she was cremated and her ashes scattered in the Garden of Remembrance. She was survived by Jeffie, her brother, Henry, and Henry's three children, whom she had regarded as her own.

Selected filmography

She also appeared in two TV episodes of Steptoe and Son.


  1. GRO Register of deaths: SEP 1981 15 1754 WESTMINSTER - Olive Rita Thompson, DoB = 25 Feb 1904
  2. "A Short Biography of Rita Webb".
  3. "Welcome to Rita's Bleedin' Webbsite!". ritawebb.co.uk. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  4. Who's On TV (ITV Books, 1980)
  5. "Rita Webb". BFI.
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