Jim Dale [James Smith] (1935-) b. Rothwell, Northants, England.
The son of a foundry man from the Midlands, Dale was smitten by show business when his father brought him to London during the latter stages of World War Two. From then on until he was 16, Dale devoted much of his out-of-school time to dancing lessons. Briefly an office boy on leaving school, he soon quit to become a full-time comedian on the northern club circuit. He was touring London music halls as a bottom-of-the-bill comedian by 1953. Two years national service in the RAF followed, after which he entered television. From 1963, Dale gave the ‘Carry On’ films the one thing they had missed – a semi-straight juvenile lead. Perhaps his best for them was the central role in Carry On Cowboy (1965), as the drainage engineer from East Finchley who somehow finds himself in the Wild West having to take on the feared Rumpo Kid (Sid James) in a gun duel.
At this time he also worked as a disc jockey and made progress as a scriptwriter and songwriter: his song Georgy Girl (1966), for the film of the same title, won an Oscar nomination. As a comedian, Dale’s strengths had been his engaging personality, his facial contortions and acrobatic skills. After leaving the ‘Carry On’ team in 1970, Dale also played the lead in one or two more bitingly satirical film comedies such as Adolf Hitler – My Part in His Downfall (1972) and The National Health (1973). In America, there was a film or two for the Disney studio. Dale played Christopher Columbus when the Carry On series was revived during the 1990s with the dire Carry On Columbus (1992).