George Anthony Newley (born on September 24, 1931 in the London Borough of Hackney; died on April 14, 1999) was an English actor, singer and songwriter.
A graduate of the Italia Conti Academy stage school, his first major film role was as the Artful Dodger in David Lean's 1948 rendition of Oliver Twist, the classic Charles Dickens tome.
Newley had a successful pop music career, with two number one hits in 1960: "Why?" and "Do You Mind?" He won the 1963 Grammy Award for Song of the Year for "What Kind of Fool Am I", but he was also well-known for "Gonna Build a Mountain" and comic novelty songs such as his version of "Strawberry Fair". He wrote songs that others made hits including Goldfinger (the title song of the James Bond movie), and Feeling Good, which became a hit for Nina Simone. With Leslie Bricusse, he wrote the musical Stop the World - I Want to Get Off in which he also performed, earning a nomination for a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. His other musicals included The Roar of the Greasepaint—the Smell of the Crowd (1965) and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), based on the children's book by Roald Dahl. The play was released in a film version in 1971.
Newley's vocal style has been recognized as a major influence on that of David Bowie. In recognition of his creative skills and body of work, Newley was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1989.
The shortlived 1960 ATV series The Strange World of Gurney Slade in which Newley starred, continues to have a cult following due to its postmodern premise that the Newley character is trapped inside a television programme. Apart from a repeat of one episode on Channel 4 in 1992, it has not been seen in the UK in recent years. The show's theme tune by Max Harris may be better-known today than the series itself.
His last feature role in the cast of EastEnders was to be a regular role, but Newley had to withdraw after a few months when his health began to fail.
He was married to Ann Lynn from 1956 to 1963, but the marriage ended in divorce. He then was married to the actress Joan Collins from 1963 to 1971. The couple had two children, Tara Newley and Sacha Newley. His third wife was former air hostess Dareth Rich, and they also had two children, Christopher and Shelby.
His last feature role in the cast of EastEnders was to be a regular role. But Newley had to withdraw after a few months when his health began to fail. He died on 14 April 1999, in Jensen Beach, Florida from renal cancer at the age of 67. He was survived by his children and also his mother Grace, then in her mid-90s.
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