LOSS OF MAN OF A THOUSAND VOICES; Wirral-born funnyman dies, aged 91.
WIRRAL actor and director Graham Stark has passed away at the age of 91.
The Wallasey-born performer starred in almost 100 films including Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, Alfie and Casino Royale, and was best man for his good friend Peter Sellers not once but four times.
Graham William Stark was born on January 20, 1922, in Wallasey, the third son of Andrew Stark and his wife Ivy (nee De Valve).
He studied at Wallasey Grammar School, where he was spotted in a school play by the then Liverpool Playhouse director William Armstrong, later training with Sheilagh Elliott-Clarke of Elliott-Clarke theatre school fame.
While he made his professional debut, aged 13, in pantomime at the Lyceum, in London, a year later he was on stage at the Liverpool Playhouse him-self, appearing as a son of Macduff in Macbeth.
He later studied at RADA and first came to prominence on radio, making his debut in Happy Go Lucky and appearing as a substitute on The Goon Show.
Described as the "man of a thousand comic voices", he soon moved on to television and in 1964 he was given his own sketch series on the BBC, The Graham Stark Show, written by Johnny Speight.
Liverpool actors Deryck Guyler and Derek Nimmo were among supporting actors on the show.
Stark met Peter Sellers in the RAF in 1945 and they remained friends until the latter's death in 1980.
He went on to star with him in 13 films, including all of the Pink Panther series, where he played a variety of characters.
Speaking to the ECHO in 1999, following the publication of his book Remembering Peter Sellers, the actor recalled: "Sometimes Peter was unhappy in that he wanted to live in the past.
"He remembered me mainly as Sgt Stark and I remembered him as Leading Aircraftsman Sellers.
"The important thing is, we did have a lot of fun."
Stark also directed two films, Simon Simon and The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins, and was a keen photographer whose work included portraits of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Joanna Lumley and Ursula Andress.
Joanna Lumley described how he was "full of madness, energy, optimism, kindness and wild humour".
Graham Stark died at his London home on Tuesday night. He had suffered a stroke in recent weeks. He is survived by his wife, actress Audrey Nicholson, three children and five grandchildren.
FAMOUS FRIENDS: Peter Sellers and Graham Stark, right, in a scene from A Shot In The Dark, the second Pink Panther film made in 1964; and, left, Graham Stark in later life
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|Publication:||Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Oct 31, 2013|
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