Anthony Newley was born in the London borough of Hackney. An only child, he had very little interest in school, and at the age of fourteen began work as an office boy for an Advertising Agency in Fleet Street. Here he read an advert in The Daily Telegraph announcing a search for 'Boy Actors Urgently Wanted', and applied to the prestigious Italia Conti Stage School. From a humble background, he soon discovered that the fees were prohibitively high, but after a brief audition, he was offered a job as an office boy on a salary of 30 shillings a week plus tuition.
Newley's acting career began from an early age, as a child actor in films such as The Adventures Of Dusty Bates (1947), Vice Versa (1948), and, perhaps most famously, David Lean's Oliver Twist, in which he played the Artful Dodger.
As a recording artist, Newley enjoyed a dozen Top 40 entries on the UK Singles Chart between 1959 and 1962, including two number one hits. He is best known for co-writing, with Leslie Bricusse, the song "Feeling Good", popularised by Nina Simone. Bricusse and Newley also received an Academy Award nomination for their work on the film score of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.
In 1960 Newley created and starred in the ATV series The Strange World Of Gurney Slade, a comedy series consisting of six half-hour pgorammes, in which Newley's character escapes from a television programme which is Gurney Slade itself. This metatheatrical premise takes him on a surrealist journey through London, encountering all manner of flora and fauna along the way.
In 1963, Newley released a hit comedy album entitled Fool Britannia!, which constituted a series of improvised satires of the British Profumo scandal. It peaked at number 10 in the UK Albums chart in October 1963.
Newley appeared in a number of classic British comedy films, including Top Of The Form (1953), directed by John Paddy Carstairs, and the musical comedy The Good Companions (1957), directed by J. Lee Thompson, based on the novel of the same name.
Newley is also known for played Matthew Mugg in the original Doctor Dolittle film, alongside the lead actor Rex Harrison.
Newley died aged 67 in 1999 in Jensen Beach, Florida. He had been first diagnosed with renal cancer in 1985, and his life is the subject of a biography by Garth Bradsley entitled Stop The World (2003). Newley is recognised as an early influence on David Bowie, who was an avid fan of his oeuvre.
- Tony Newley
- Thursday 24th September 1931
- Wednesday 14th April 1999 (aged 67)
|1960||The Strange World Of Gurney Slade||Gurney Slade|
|1960||The Strange World Of Gurney Slade||Creator|
|1957||The Good Companions||Maurice Milbrau|
|1957|| Askey Galore!
|1953||Top Of The Form||Percy|
|1949||A Boy, A Girl And A Bike||Charlie Ritchie|
Non-comedy TV and film credits might be found here:
Anthony Newley on IMDb