Sidney James

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Sid James (08/05/1913-26/04/1976) [1] was a South African-born, internationally known as a comedian, film and television and stage actor. He was born Solomon Joel Cohen in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. He later changed his name to Sidney Joel Cohen and then Sidney James. He was married three times, first to Berthe Sadie Delmont, whom he divorced in 1940, then he married Meg Williams in 1943 and divorced her in 1952. In 1952 he married Valerie Ashton. He had four children, Elizabeth, born 1937, Reina, born 1947, Steve, born 1954 and Sue, born ?. He started his career in 1937 when he joined the Johannesburg Repertory Players (also known as Johannesburg REPS) as an actor and started doing work for the South African Broadcasting Corporation also in Johannesburg. In 1940 he played the lead in Of Mice and Men for the Johannesburg REPS. During the Second World War he became a lieutenant in the Union Defence Force (South Africa's army) in the Union Defence Force Entertainment Unit. Immediately after the war he moved to Britain where he worked in repertory before he started landing roles on radio, television and in films and became a world famous comedy star, possibly best known for his roles in the series of Carry On films [2]. Also performed for the Gwen ffrangçon-Davies / Marda Vanne Company which presented seasons of plays during the war years and immediately afterwards at the Standard Theatre in Johannesburg and the Alhambra Theatre in Cape Town. These included Oasis and A Month in the Country, both in 1946. Starred in Emlyn Williams's The Wind of Heaven in 1946, together with Gwen ffrangçon-Davies, Marda Vanne, Zoë Randall and Wensley Pithey. He starred in more than 60 films, including The Small Back Room (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), A King in New York (1957) and The Story of Esther Costello (1957). The Quibells brougt him home for the first time in 20 years to star in Wedding Fever at the Civic Theatre circa 1970. He lived in England for the rest of his life and died in Sunderland,Great Britain, on April 26, 1976.


Tucker, 1997.

Encyclopaedia Judaica, Second Edition, Volume 11. Fred Skolnik, Editor in Chief and Michael Berenbaum, Executive Editor, Keeter Publishing House Ltd., Jerusalem.

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