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Norman Rossington in Sharpe's Regiment (1996)
24 December 1928
Liverpool, Lancashire, England
21 May 1999 (aged 70)|
|Spouse(s)||Cindy Barnes (1999-1999) (his death)|
Born in Liverpool, the son of a publican, Rossington was educated at Sefton Park Elementary School and Liverpool Technical College. He left education at the age of 14. After that he lived a rather aimless adolescent life as messenger, office boy at Liverpool Docks and apprentice joiner. He did his national service in the RAF. Later, he went to night school and studied industrial design at technical college to become a draughtsman. His interest in acting led him to the David Lewis Theatre, a local theatre group where he began his acting career. Here he played Shakespeare and in The Critic under the direction of Thomas G Reed. Rossington went on to train at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School city's Theatre Royal, by the mid-1950s appearing on the stage in plays such as a London Old Vic tour of the USA in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Salad Days, being one of the original cast. However, his big breakthrough came in 1957, when he starred as Private 'Cupcake' Cook in the popular sitcom The Army Game. He left after three series in 1959, and in the meantime had appeared in I Only Arsked!, again as 'Cupcake'.
His first film role was in the 1956 film Three Men in a Boat. Rossington went on to appear in Carry On Sergeant, the first Carry On film, as well as Carry On Nurse (1959) and Carry On Regardless (1961). Rossington also played notable serious roles in Saint Joan (1957) and the classic 1960 British "New Wave" film Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, playing alongside Albert Finney in the latter's first starring role. In 1958 he acted in the first of two Titanic films, A Night to Remember, as a steward unable to communicate with non-English speaking passengers. Rossington would return in his second Titanic film playing the Sergeant-at-Arms in S.O.S. Titanic in 1979.
In 1962 Rossington played the uncredited role of Corporal Jenkins in Lawrence of Arabia, and later appeared in The Longest Day (1962), Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965), Tobruk playing Alfie (1967) and The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968). In 1972, he appeared in Young Winston and the cult horror film Death Line with Donald Pleasence.
Rossington is the only performer to work in both a Beatles film, in A Hard Day's Night, and an Elvis Presley film, Double Trouble. He remembered Presley during filming as a 'quiet man who sat by himself in a corner and who would often borrow my newspaper.'
- Saint Joan (1957)
- The Long Haul (1957)
- The One That Got Away (1957)
- A Night to Remember (1958)
- Carry On Sergeant (1958)
- I Only Arsked! (1958)
- Carry On Nurse (1959)
- The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film (1959)
- The League of Gentlemen (1960)
- Doctor in Love (1960)
- Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)
- No Love for Johnnie (1961)
- Carry On Regardless (1961)
- Go to Blazes (1962)
- Crooks Anonymous (1962)
- The Longest Day (1962)
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
- Nurse on Wheels (1963)
- A Hard Day's Night (1964)
- The Comedy Man (1964)
- Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965)
- Double Trouble (1967)
- Tobruk (1967)
- The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)
- Negatives (1968)
- Two Gentlemen Sharing (1969)
- Simon, Simon (1970)
- Man in the Wilderness (1971)
- Young Winston (1972)
- Go for a Take (1972)
- Death Line (1972)
- Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World (1973)
- Joseph Andrews (1977)
- S.O.S. Titanic (1979)
- The Prisoner of Zenda (1979)
- Masada (1981)
- House of the Long Shadows (1983)
- The Krays (1990)
- Let Him Have It (1991)
From the 1970s onwards, Rossington mainly appeared on television, including roles in His and Hers, The Wednesday Play, Casanova, Carry On Christmas, Crown Court, I, Claudius, Z-Cars, Big Jim and the Figaro Club (1981, in the title role of "Big Jim"), The Bill and Last of the Summer Wine. His final appearances before his death were Heartbeat in 1996, Sharpe's Regiment as Sergeant Horatio Havercamp, also in 1996, and What's a Carry On? in 1998.
Selected television roles
|1957 to 1959||The Army Game||Private Cupcake Cook|
|1960 to 1962||Our House||Gordon Brent|
|1967||Hicks and Stokes||Billy Hicks|
|1969||Curry and Chips||Norman|
|1976||I, Claudius||Sergeant of the Guard|
His stage career included time spent with the Royal Shakespeare Company and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Rossington also made many appearances in the West End, with roles in Peter Pan, My Fair Lady (as Alfred Doolittle), Annie Get Your Gun (as Charlie Davenport), Pickwick: The Musical, Guys and Dolls (as Nathan Detroit), and in Beauty and the Beast. He also told the stories from The Adventures of Portland Bill.
Rossington did some radio, returning to the part of Big Jim in the BBC Radio 4 version of Big Jim and the Figaro Club. He did six half-hour episodes in 1987.
Norman Rossington gave his hobbies as: woodwork, skiing, golf and languages. He was married twice. His second marriage, on 19 January 1999 to Cindy Barnes, lasted until his death aged 70 a few months later. Norman spent many of his last years living in a small terraced house in Hale, Cheshire and was seen as a local character who would cycle around the village daily and regale everyone he met, who wanted to know, with his many tales of his career. He died in Manchester after a six-month battle with cancer. The village of Hale came out to pay their respects following his death.
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