Anthony Newley was born in Hackney, London, England, to Frances Grace Newley and George Kirby, a shipping clerk. He was attracted to acting, after seeing an ad for a child actor in a Fleet Street window. He attended the Italia Conti Stage School from the age of 14 and, two years later, played the Artful Dodger in David Lean’s film, Oliver Twist (1948). Newley was called up to the Army for his National Service and, by the late 1950s, had a hit song Idol on Parade (1959), while in the movie of the same name. He married his first wife, Tiller Girl Ann Lynn in 1956 but it was a rocky marriage and they divorced in 1963. He was in the pop charts seven times in 1960, twice at Number One with “Why?” and “Do You Mind?” written by Lionel Bart. In 1961, he collaborated with Leslie Bricusse on the hit stage show, Stop the World: I Want to Get Off (1966). After long runs in London and on Broadway, it was made into a film, starring Millicent Martin, with the hit song “What Kind of Fool Am I?”. In 1963, he married Rank starlet Joan Collins. She described him at the time as “A half-Jewish Cockney git” and herself as a “half-Jewish princess from Bayswater via Sunset Boulevard”. Newley’s film career thrived, most notably with acting roles in Doctor Dolittle (1967) and The Cockleshell Heroes (1955), and as a writer and composer. His partnership with Bricusse continued with “The Roar of the Greasepaint: The Smell of the Crowd” and many other Oscar, Grammy and Ivor Novello award-winning collaborations. They had hit songs such as “The Candy Man” and “Goldfinger”. His marriage to Joan Collins broke up in 1971. He had two of his four children with her. Tony was married a third time, to former air hostess Dareth Rich, only to divorce again. He once said “My only regret is that, in a show business career, you can have no private life”. Alone and facing a battle against cancer, Newley moved in with his mother Gracie – now in her 90s – at her home in Esher, Surrey. The stage performances continued but were nothing to match his heyday. His last TV appearance was in “The Lakes” in February 1999. Anthony Newley died in April of that year.
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