John Leyton was born on Feb. 17th 1936 at Frinton-On Sea, Essex, England, to parents of show business background. His father owned several cinemas and his mother acted under the name of ‘Babs Walters’ on the London stage. When John showed a desire to act, his parents tried to discourage him, wanting him to enter the family rope business as they felt it was too difficult to get a start in acting. After working for a while with his parents he was drafted into the Royal Army Service Corps to do his National Service. On completion, John decided to join the Actor’s Workshop to study drama. To supplement his income, John turned to his love of singing and managed to get some work in night clubs imitating singers like Frankie Laine and Johnnie Ray. On finishing drama school, John joined York Repertory Theatre as a juvenile lead and was signed by Robert Stigwood (his manager during the 1960’s) for television work in London. John’s first important break was in the Granada TV series Biggles (1960) and this brought him a huge following of fans. It was not long before his biggest break came when he played the part of singer Johnny St. Cyr in the ATV series Harpers West One (1961) where he performed the song Johnny Remember Me. The fans loved it and demanded a record, which put John into the British Hit parade with a number one disc that held the top spot for seven weeks. His acting was placed on hold as his pop singing career took over, the follow up single, Wild Wind, reached number two. Further releases did not have the same impact. Eventually John found his way back to acting and appeared in two major Hollywood movies The Great Escape (1963) and Von Ryan’s Express (1965). Further movies followed but it seemed his star had faded. He drifted back to television work and eventual obscurity.
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