On This Day … 09 January [2023]

People (Births)

  • 1920 – Clive Dunn, English actor (d. 2012).
  • 1925 – Lee Van Cleef, American actor (d. 1989).

Clive Dunn

Clive Robert Benjamin Dunn OBE (09 January 1920 to 06 November 2012) was an English actor. Although he was only 48 and one of the youngest cast members, he was cast in a role many years his senior, as the elderly Lance Corporal Jones in the BBC sitcom Dad’s Army, which ran for nine series and 80 episodes between 1968 and 1977.

Dunn started his acting career in 1935, but this was interrupted by the Second World War, in which he served as a trooper in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars. In 1941 the regiment was forced to surrender after it was overrun during the Greek campaign and Dunn was held as a POW in Austria for the next four years.

After the war, Dunn resumed his acting career in repertory theatre. He made his first television appearance in 1951 as the man in the pub in Surprise Attack, a short film commissioned by the Ministry of Health. Dunn appeared in both series of The Tony Hancock Show and made many appearances with Tony Hancock, Michael Bentine, Dora Bryan and Dick Emery, among others, before winning the role of Jones in Dad’s Army in 1968.

After Dad’s Army ended, Dunn capitalised on his reputation for playing elderly character roles by playing the lead character Charlie Quick, in the slapstick children’s TV series Grandad, from 1979 to 1984.

Lee Van Cleef

Clarence LeRoy Van Cleef Jr. (09 January 1925 to 16 December 1989) was an American actor. He appeared in over 170 film and television roles in a career spanning nearly 40 years, but is best known as a star of Italian Spaghetti Westerns, particularly the Sergio Leone-directed Dollars Trilogy films For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).

Born and raised in New Jersey, Van Cleef served in the United States Navy during World War II aboard a minesweeper, earning a Bronze Star for his actions. After acting on stage in regional theatre, he made his film debut in the Oscar-winning Western High Noon (1952) in a non-speaking outlaw cast role. With distinctive, angular features and a taciturn screen persona, Van Cleef was typecast as minor villain and supporting player in Westerns and crime dramas. After suffering serious injuries in a car crash, Van Cleef’s acting career started to decline. However, he achieved unexpected stardom when director Sergio Leone offered him the co-leading role in For a Few Dollars More. The film proved to be a huge hit and cited him as a box-office draw, largely in Europe.

Van Cleef went on to appear in such films as Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Death Rides a Horse (1967), Day of Anger (also 1967), Sabata (1969) and its sequel Return of Sabata (1971), El Condor (1970), The Magnificent Seven Ride! (1972), Mean Frank and Crazy Tony (1973), Take a Hard Ride (1975), The Octagon (1980), Escape from New York (1981) and Speed Zone (1989). He also played the lead role of John Peter McAllister on the martial arts television series The Master (1984).

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