George Cole (1925-) b. Tooting, London, England.
Born in London, Cole was first seen as a teenage actor, having answered an advert in a paper for a child player in a West End musical, and getting the job of understudy for the part. His first film, Cottage to Let (1941), made when he was not quite 16, brought him to the attention of Alastair Sim, who guided him in his early career. The two men made 11 films together and became lifelong friends. He was in the Royal Air Force from 1944 to 1947 but, now able to switch the London accent on and off at the drop of a lopsided smile, soon took up the threads of his career again after the war.
His first big comedy success in films was in Laughter in Paradise (1951), as a meek bank clerk who has to pretend to hold up his own bank to fulfil the conditions of an inheritance. In 1954, Cole had created the other side of his comedy coin with Flash Harry, the ever-optimistic spiv in the ‘St Trinian’s’ film. Later he extended the characterisation to create Arthur Daley, the salesman from whom you’d least like to buy a second-hand car, in another long-running series Minder – this time on television. Following on from Minder, Cole later went into semi-retirement but has remained a regular face on tyelevision.