Raymond Huntley

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        Biography (1904-90)
        T E X T

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        It is weird considering Raymond Huntley's great body of work from the 1940s/50s that today he is best known for his role as Sir Geoffrey Dillon in the 1970s UK Upstairs, Downstairs. Weird to me because by then he was in his 70s and I consider the role as but a footnote to all that had gone before.

        raymond huntley from his brief role in the dambusters

        For many years after his divorce to his only wife, June Bell, he lived in a comfortable London flat. He was also a member of the Garrick Club, full of theatrical history.

        He met a virile Bernard Shaw when Huntley was given his first substantial acting part, by the Birmingham Repertory Company, at the age of 18.

        At the age of 21 he played a septuagenarian farm labourer in The Farmer's Wife, which must have been something of a miracle of make-up in those days, and, as a result, was offered a three-year contract as a topline comedian by the producer of a North Country revue.

        The pay offered was 10 a week for the first year, 12 for the second yearand 15 a week for the third year.

        "I protested that I was already earning 15 a week", he later recalled, "and he said: 'Don't be hasty, lad. We carry 10 lovely girls, and as second comic you would have second pick.'"

        In 1939, he was offered his first television role, a leading part in a play called The Day is Gone. The producer said he would be taking part in an exciting experiment and therefore, naturally, he could not expect to be paid.

        Huntley replied that he hoped the experiment would be a success, but that it would cost 25 if he was to be used as one of the chemicals. They paid.

        He felt North Country was his best accent, though he was raised in Birmingham. In his opinion next came old-fashioned cockney, then Irish.

        In later life he hated bad manners and had a tendency towards gout which kept his off the wine. He would exercise each morning. He would whenever possible fly to a quiet village in Majorca, where he was well known. He said of the experience:

        "My favourite pastime is to sit in the sun, perspiration rolling off me, moanign about the heat whilst enjoying every second of it.

        "The sun and I get on well together".

        Source: TVTimes, 28th October, 1972


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