Guest Actor Biography
Page 66 of 127

   

Harry Landis

Harry, The Little Wonders

by Pete Stampede

Harry Landis' characters, generally in the Cockney-Jewish mode, may not always be on the right side of the law, but are never anybody's fool. He began acting with London's politically-minded Unity Theatre; it can't be coincidence that this episode's writer, Eric Paice, was another Unity prime mover. Landis had an important supporting role as a Cockney soldier in A Hill in Korea (1956); Michael Caine, who made an unnoticed screen debut in the film, recalled in his autobiography that great things were expected of Landis at the time, but didn't materialise.

Indeed, Landis' other film roles have been pretty minor, as in The Informers (uncredited, 1963) and Ransom (1975) with Sean Connery. But he's certainly kept active in other media, returning to Unity Theatre to help out the largely amateur casts, and occasionally directing there, such as a well-praised late 60's production of Death of a Salesman. On TV, the ITC series certainly had him cast contrastingly; he was Israeli in The Saint, "Locate and Destroy" (1966), Irish-Greek (!) in Man In a Suitcase, "Variation on a Million Bucks, Part Two" (1967) and German in Jason King, "A Page Before Dying" (1971). He also popped up in one of Jeremy Brett's last appearances as the Great Detective, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, "The Mazarin Stone" (Granada, 1994).

More characteristically, he was in one of the most fondly remembered single plays ever, Jack Rosenthal's Bar Mitzvah Boy (BBC, 1976), played one of Arthur Daley's slightly crooked cronies in Minder, "The Greatest Show in Willesden" (Thames, 1991), and was a regular in Eastenders (BBC, 1985-) for a while in the mid-90's, as a friendly barber.

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