Victor Spinetti

Sep 02, 1929
Jun 19, 2012

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From Wikipedia:

Vittorio Giorgio Andre “Victor” Spinetti (2 September 1929 – 19 June 2012) was a Welsh actor, author, poet, and raconteur. He appeared in dozens of films and stage plays throughout his 50-year career, including the three 1960s Beatles films A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, and Magical Mystery Tour.

Born in Cwm, Spinetti was educated at Monmouth School and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff, of which he became a Fellow. After various menial jobs, Spinetti pursued a stage career and was closely associated with Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop. Among the productions were Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be and Oh, What a Lovely War! (1963), which transferred to Broadway and for which he won a Tony Award. Spinetti’s film career developed simultaneously; his dozens of film appearances included Zeffirelli’s The Taming of the Shrew, Under Milk Wood, The Return of the Pink Panther and Under the Cherry Moon.

During his later career, Spinetti acted with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in such roles as Lord Foppington in The Relapse and the Archbishop in Richard III, at Stratford-upon-Avon; and, in 1990, he appeared in The Krays. In 2008 he appeared in a one-man show, A Very Private Diary, which toured the UK as A Very Private Diary … Revisited!, recounting his life story. Spinetti was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 and died of the disease in June 2012. […]

Spinetti gained international fame during the 1960s due to his association with the Beatles. He appeared in the first three Beatles films: A Hard Day’s Night (1964), Help! (1965), and Magical Mystery Tour (1967). He also appeared on the Beatles’ 1967 Christmas recording, released to members of their fan club. The best explanation for this long-running collaboration and friendship might have been provided by George Harrison, who told Spinetti, “You’ve got to be in all our films … if you’re not in them me Mum won’t come and see them – because she fancies you.” But Harrison also later told him, “You’ve got a lovely karma, Vic.” Paul McCartney once described Spinetti as “the man who makes clouds disappear“. Spinetti made a small appearance in the promotional video for McCartney’s song “London Town” from the 1978 album of the same name. Spinetti’s July 2010 performance of the song “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da“, at the Festival Theatre, Malvern in Worcestershire, was available on “The Beatles Complete on Ukulele” podcast.

Spinetti appeared in around 30 films, including The Gentle Terror (1961), Sparrows Can’t Sing (1963), The Wild Affair (1964), Becket (1964), Zeffirelli’s The Taming of the Shrew (1967), The Biggest Bundle of Them All (1968), Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? (1969), This, That and the Other (1969), Start the Revolution Without Me (1970), Under Milk Wood (1972), Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World (1973), The Great McGonagall (1974), The Little Prince (1974), The Return of the Pink Panther (1975), Voyage of the Damned (1976), Emily (1976), Hardcore (1977), Casanova & Co. (1977), Under the Cherry Moon (1986) and The Krays (1990).

Spinetti’s last on-screen appearance was in the DVD release of the independent film Beatles Stories by US musician Seth Swirsky, issued to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first recording sessions at Abbey Road. […]

Victor was a fine man, a great pal and a fantastic actor and someone I am proud to have known for many years.  His irreverent wit and exuberant personality will remain in my memory forever.  I will miss his loyal friendship as will all the others who were lucky enough to know and love the wonderful Mr Spinetti.

Paul McCartney – From, June 20, 2012

Victor Spinetti appeared in ‘Hard Day’s Night’, ‘Help!’, ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ and the Wings music video for ‘London Town’.

I’d worked with The Beatles in their previous movies, so John wrote to me and asked if I would be the courier in Magical Mystery Tour. I was busy doing a play, Oh What A Lovely War, in London, so I had to turn it down and Ivor Cutler went on and did it marvellously.

But John still wanted me to be involved, so he got to me to drive down to West Malling Aerodrome for the day and do a little drill sergeant routine with Paul. It was something I did in the play anyway, and it was all improvised, so it was no problem.

One lovely thing was that when we broke for lunch, they had set aside twenty minutes for anybody who wanted to meditate, which I did. It was a lovely calm moment in the middle of the schedule, and they were all into that since they’d been with the Maharishi.

The filming was unusual inasmuch as it wasn’t done in lots of short takes like a normal movie. They filmed long sequences, and they improvised as they went along. At one point John spotted a stuffed cow, and he just decided there and then to have it in the shot. They were making it up as they went along.

Victor Spinetti – From “The Making of The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour” by Tony Barrow, 1999
From Magical Mystery Tour | The Beatles
From Paul McCartney on Twitter: Photo of Paul with the late actor Victor Spinetti taken at the ‘Rockshow’ film premiere on 8th April 1981.

Last updated on April 29, 2023

Recording sessions Victor Spinetti participated in

Recording and mixing "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)"

Nov 28, 1967 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Christmas Time Is Here Again!

Albums, EPs & singles which Victor Spinetti contributed to

Christmas Time Is Here Again!

By The Beatles • 7" Single

Contribution: Tap dancing, Vocals • 1 songs

Christmas Album

By The Beatles • Official album

Contribution: Tap dancing, Vocals • 1 songs

From Then To You

By The Beatles • Official album

Contribution: Tap dancing, Vocals • 1 songs

Free As A Bird

By The Beatles • EP

Contribution: Vocals • 1 songs

The Beatles Christmas Record Box

By The Beatles • Official album

Contribution: Tap dancing, Vocals • 1 songs


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Garnet Faulkner 4 months ago

Fascinating story! Being a Beatles fan (especially Paul) made this article a pleasure to read. I had never read anything about Victor Spinetti. I plan to check out some of the other films he was in having seen all the Beatle films.

The PaulMcCartney Project 4 months ago

Thanks for your kind words, Garnet ! Always a pleasure to feel the content published here is useful !

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