Andrew Sachs born Andreas Siegfried Sachs was born in Berlin, Germany, he and his family emigrated to London in 1938, to escape persecution under the Nazis. He made his name on British television and rose to fame in the 1970s for his portrayals of the comical Spanish waiter Manuel in Fawlty Towers (1975), a role for which he was BAFTA nominated.
He went on to have a long career in acting and voice-over work for television, film and radio. In his later years, he continued to have success with roles in films such as Quartet, and as Ramsay Clegg in Coronation Street.
Sachs was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of Katharina (née Schrott-Fiecht), a librarian, and Hans Emil Sachs, an insurance broker. His father was Jewish and his mother was Catholic, and of half-Austrian descent. He left with his parents for Britain in 1938, when he was eight years old, to escape the Nazis. They settled in north London, and he lived in Kilburn for the rest of his life.
In 1960, Sachs married Melody Lang, who appeared in one episode of Fawlty Towers, “Basil the Rat”, as Mrs. Taylor. He adopted her two sons from a previous marriage, John Sachs and William Sachs, and they had one daughter, Kate Sachs.
In the late 1950s, whilst still studying shipping management at college, Sachs worked on radio productions, including Private Dreams and Public Nightmares by Frederick Bradnum, an early experimental programme made by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
Sachs began in acting with repertory theatre and made his West End debut as Grobchick in the 1958 production of the Whitehall farce Simple Spymen. He made his screen debut in 1959 in the film The Night We Dropped a Clanger. He then appeared in numerous television series throughout the 1960s, including some appearances in ITC productions such as The Saint (1962) and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969).
Sachs is best known for his role as Manuel, the Spanish waiter in the sitcom Fawlty Towers (1975 and 1979). During the shooting of the Fawlty Towers episode “The Germans”, Sachs was left with second degree acid burns due to a fire stunt. He was hit with a faulty prop on the set of the show by John Cleese and suffered a massive headache.
Sachs recorded four singles in character as Manuel; the first was “Manuel’s Good Food Guide” in 1977, which came in a picture sleeve with Manuel on the cover. Sachs also had a hand in writing (or adapting) the lyrics. This was followed in 1979 by “O Cheryl” with “Ode to England” on the B side. This was recorded under the name “Manuel and Los Por Favors”. Sachs shares the writing credits for the B side with “B. Wade”, who also wrote the A side.
In 1981, “Manuel” released a cover version of Joe Dolce’s number one in the United Kingdom “Shaddap You Face”, with “Waiter, there’s a Flea in my Soup” on the B side. Sachs also adapted “Shaddap You Face” into Spanish, but was prevented from releasing it before Dolce’s version by a court injunction. When finally released it reached 138 in the UK Chart.
In 2007, the BBC broadcast an adaptation of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency with Sachs portraying Reg (Professor Urban Chronotis, the Regius Professor of Chronology). He would later appear in another Adams adaptation as the Book in the live tour of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy during its run at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre.
On 17 November 2008, it was announced that Sachs had been approached to appear in ITV soap Coronation Street. He later confirmed on 14 December that he was taking up the offer, saying, “I’m taking Street challenge”. In May 2009 he made his debut on the street as Norris’ brother, Ramsay. He appeared in 27 episodes and left in August 2009.
With the Australian pianist Victor Sangiorgio, he toured with a two man show called “Life after Fawlty”, which included Richard Strauss’s voice and piano setting of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem “Enoch Arden”. 2012 saw his last major role, as Bobby Swanson in the movie Quartet.
Sachs was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012, which eventually left him unable to speak and forced him to use a wheelchair. He died on 23 November 2016 at the Denville Hall nursing home in Northwood, London, England. He was buried on 1 December 2016, the same day his death was publicly announced.
On 2 December 2016, BBC One broadcast the Fawlty Towers episode “Communication Problems” in his memory. John Cleese led tributes to Sachs, describing him as a “sweet, sweet man”
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