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Julian Chagrin

Jennings, Look - (stop me if you've heard this one) But There Were These Two Fellers...

by Pete Stampede

Julian Chagrin was a leading mime, often working with his wife (confusingly called Claude). Despite his French name, he was actually born in Manchester. He appeared in the celebrated game of tennis with no ball in Michaelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up (1966); he could also be spotted, unbilled, as one of the dancers in the climactic musical scene of Dudley Moore's semi-autobiographical Thirty Is A Dangerous Age, Cynthia (1968). Not long after this episode was made, he was a regular on a transatlantic oddity made by Lew Grade. In America, it was called Dean Martin Presents The Golddiggers In London (NBC, 1970), understandably enough as that was where it was made, and it starred Dino's girl dancing troupe, as a summer replacement for his usual show; it was the show that inadvertently launched Marty Feldman in America, as for reasons too complicated to go into, Grade's company ITC took the unusual step of buying material from the BBC, namely the elaborate, usually silent filmed sketches from It's Marty Feldman (BBC, 68-1969). In Britain, it was just called The Golddiggers (ATV, 1970), with them, Chagrin and the deeply camp Charles Nelson Reilly as regulars, ran for half an hour, and had no Feldman clips.

Along with John Bluthal and Carol Cleveland, Chagrin supported Spike Milligan in a Christmas special, The Last Turkey In The Shop Show (BBC, 1974); anyone who's read Spike's war memoirs will know what the title means, and why its meaning can't possibly be explained in a family site such as this! Also in the mid-70s, a short film Chagrin starred in, wrote and directed, Morning Spider, is fondly recalled by those who saw it. With his hairstyle seemingly unaltered since the 60's, he did a very silly, long-running soft drink commercial in the 80's, raiding the fridge at night while declaiming "I'm a secret lemonade drinker..." He mimed to that song, reasonably enough, and it was actually performed by Ross McManus, father of Declan McManus, otherwise known as Elvis Costello. Later that decade, Chagrin moved to Israel, and has lately been billed as Julian Joy-Chagrin, such as in a TV series, The Orchestra (United Studios of Israel, mid-80's). He starred in this mime series as the Maestro, in white tie and tails throughout, and again wrote and directed; it turned up on Channel 4 in 1986-87, and one episode won the Golden Rose of Montreux in 1985. I definitely recall him appearing in London, at a festival of mime, in the late 80's. Brian Clemens' notes in the margin for The Ultimate Avengers mention that at one time Linda Thorson was Chagrin's assistant in his stage act.

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This bio Copyright 1999-2008 Gavin Gaughan.
Page last modified 1 January 2002.