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24th November, 2021

Becoming The Beatles: Victor Spinetti

The comic actor Victor Spinetti had a rare distinction as the only non-Beatle to appear in the films A Hard Day’s Night (as T.V. Director), Help! (as Foot) and Magical Mystery Tour (as Army Sergeant).

Vittorio Giorgio Andre 'Victor' Spinetti was a Welsh actor, author, poet, and raconteur. He appeared in dozens of films and stage plays throughout his 50-year career.

Victor gained international fame during the 1960s due to his association with The Beatles and he first met the band in 1963, when John Lennon and George Harrison saw his Tony Award-winning performance in Oh! What a Lovely War.

John and George visited him in his dressing room after the show and here they urged him to appear in their first movie. George told Victor, "You've got to be in all our films...if you're not in them my Mum won't come and see them – because she fancies you." Victor agreed, and soon he and The Beatles became good friends.

As well as appearing in the first three Beatles films, he also featured on The Beatles' 1967 Christmas recording, released to members of their fan club. The Beatles were very fond of Victor; George once told him he has ‘a lovely karma’ and Paul described him as ‘the man who makes clouds disappear’.

Beatlemania was in full force around the world, and Victor experienced the knock-on effects first hand when performing Oh! What A Lovely War on Broadway.

On the opening night Victor recalls coming out on stage to a rather loud reception:

“A group of girls at the back screamed, 'Victor Spinetti, aaaaahhhhhhhh!' They were shouting things like, 'he's touched George!'”

To help maintain peace and quiet during the performance, Victor promised to do a small seminar on The Beatles at the end of each performance, which led to huge ticket sales from Beatles fans.

Victor later visited to the Fab Four’s hometown of Liverpool – he attended the 1981 Beatles Convention and was the star guest to unveil a statue of John Lennon in the city. He gave a moving speech about John and the whole crowd spontaneously began to sing 'Give Peace a Chance’.

Victor made a small appearance in the promotional video for Paul’s song London Town from the 1978 album of the same name and helped to write The National Theatre’s stage version of John’s book In His Own Write.

Victor died in Monmouth, UK on the morning of 19 June 2012 and at his memorial service, which was attended by Paul McCartney, In My Life was sung by Michael Ball.

 

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