Leslie Phillips dead at 98 – Harry Potter star who voiced Sorting Hat and Carry On icon passes away after long illness | The Sun

VETERAN actor Leslie Phillips, best known for his "Ding Dong", "Well, Hello" and "I Say" catchphrases in the saucy 'Carry On' movies, has died aged 98.

His death on Monday after a long illness brought down the curtain on eight decades in show business.

As well as the Carry On films, Leslie Phillips wooed a new generation of fans as the voice of The Sorting Hat in Harry Potter films.

His agent Jonathan Lloyd confirmed he died “peacefully in his sleep" yesterday.

Paying tribute, his wife Zara, 63, said: “I've lost a wonderful husband and the public has lost a truly great showman.

"He was quite simply a national treasure. People loved him. He was mobbed everywhere he went.

"When we married he cheekily introduced me to the Press as royalty, insisting I was the new Zara Phillips and that I was related to the Queen."

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Leslie starred in over 200 films, TV and radio series over his glittering career.

For 17 years he starred alongside Ronnie Barker and Jon Pertwee on hit BBC radio show ‘The Navy Lark'.

An accomplished Shakespearian actor, Leslie also trod the boards in stage shows around the world.

But he was best known for his roles as the smooth-talking rogue with an eye for the ladies in the 'Carry On' and ‘Doctor’ comedy films in the 1950s and 60s.

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Because of those films, he became famous for his trademark caddish phrases, "LUMME”, "WELL, HELLO,” "I SAY” and "DING DONG” – directed at sexy women on camera.

He often joked that the chat-up lines – delivered in rich dulcet tones – would follow him to the grave and that one of those lines will probably be inscribed on his headstone.

Remarkably he starred in only four of the 31 ‘Carry On’ movies and confessed that those lecherous catchphrases had been "a millstone around his neck".

Even his own pals christened him King Leer, after playing King Lear in a performance for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

His death – nearly two years after Barbara Windsor passed away – leaves Jim Dale, 86, as the last surviving regular from the Carry On films.

Leslie joined the Carry On cast after giving up a Hollywood career to be with wife, Penny Bartley and their four children who were back in England.

He later revealed he loved being "idolised" by the public, he wished people would "look beyond the lecherous twit I played".

Although he spoke with a plum in his mouth, Leslie Samuel Phillips was born in April 1924 the third child of a working class family who lived near White Hart Lane.

His dad, Fred, worked in a factory making gas cookers and died age 44 from the fume-filled conditions. Age nine, Leslie saw his father laid out in a coffin in the house, his body still riddled with fungus from the factory.

The following year, his mum Margaret sent Leslie to the Italia Conte stage school to lose his Cockney accent.

He said: “All my friends and family were Londoners, real Cockneys. They found it hard to recognise the new me, though my voice has without doubt played an enormous part in my success.”

By 14, he was working in West End plays alongside Hollywood stars Vivien Leigh and Rex Harrison.

Two years later appeared Phillips appeared in his first movie "The Thief of Baghdad” and was proud of being the only actor still alive who had performed at Pinewood Studios when it first opened in 1936.


In World War II he served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry but was declared unfit for service just before D-Day with a nervous illness that caused partial paralysis.

While his acting career took off after the war, his personal life was plagued by tragedy.

He married actress Penelope Bartley in 1948 and they had two sons and two daughters.

Despite returning from America, long absences away from home meant the couple inevitably grew apart.

By then he had begun a nine-year affair with Caroline Mortimer, stepdaughter of Rumpole of the Bailey creator John Mortimer, followed by a relationship with actress Vicki Luke.

Penny Bartley finally divorced him in 1965 but they stayed in touch until she was killed in a house fire in 1981.

At the time of Penny’s death, Leslie was starring in a play in Australia and did not return to the UK.

His children never forgave him for missing their mum’s funeral.

The following year he married Bond girl Angela Scoular. When they got together five years earlier she was pregnant with another man’s son, who Leslie brought up as his own.

In 1993, Leslie’s beloved mum, then 92, was mugged at a bus stop by teenagers.

Margaret would not give up her bag because it contained items Leslie had given her. They dragged her along the road and she broke several bones. She died a few weeks later.

Phillips always maintained she was murdered but the youths responsible were never caught.

His sister Doris, who had cared for their mother, never got over it
and died of a stroke six months later.

Then April 201, tragedy struck again. His wife Angela – who he first met on the set of Carry on Nurse – downed a lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol to ease her terminal bowel cancer.

Angela was airlifted to hospital, where she died next day.

Family friend, Zara Carr, consoled Leslie and helped him come to terms with Angela’s death.

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He later proposed to Zara, who was 30 years his junior, and she saved his life by acting quickly to get Leslie to hospital when he suffered a major stroke that left him confined to a wheelchair.

The Queen honoured Leslie Phillips with an OBE in 1998 and ten years later a made him a CBE for services to showbiz.

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