Till Death Do Us Part actor Warren Mitchell dies aged 89

Warren Mitchell

by James White |
Published on

He fully embraced the role over the years, but Warren Mitchell was known for more than simply playing cranky sitcom icon Alf Garnett. The talented actor and writer has died at the age of 89.

Born in Stoke Newington in 1926, Mitchell started acting at a young age, joining Gladys Gordon's Academy of Dramatic Arts at seven, but putting aside his ambitions to commit himself to his studies. He read chemistry at Oxford for sixth months, but there met Richard Burton, with whom he joined the RAF, though Mitchell completed his navigator training in Canada just as World War II came to a close.

At Burton’s urging, Mitchell went back to performing instead of looking for a career in the sciences, and attended RADA for two years while also performing at the Unity Theatre in London. He became known as a versatile actor in films, TV, radio and on the stage, working on shows such as Hancock’s Half Hour, Drake’s Progress and Armchair Theatre. His ability to inhabit characters won him a variety of guest roles on series including The Avengers, Danger Man and The Saint, but it was in the story of a bigoted West Ham supporting crank that would give him his most notable role. He first played Alf Garnett in a play for the BBC’s Comedy Playhouse series, which served as the pilot for Till Death Do Us Part. Though Alf couldn’t be more different from Mitchell’s personality, he relished playing a character that could be used for subtle – and often not-so subtle – satire. He reprised the role across several series and a couple of films including 1972’s The Alf Garnett Saga.

On film, he appeared in the likes of Help!, Two-Way Stretch, Carry On Cleo, Jabberwocky and The Plague Dogs. A BAFTA and Olivier award winner, he was commended for roles in Death Of A Salesman and Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker, and was performing at the age of 82 in Jeff Baron's Visiting Mr. Green. Mitchell is survived by his wife Connie and their three children.

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