Birthdate: February 7th, 1922
Location: Sandgate, Kent, UK
Died: October 6th, 1980
Location: Kensington, London, UK
Cause of death: Heart attack
Best known for: Larger than life comedy actress who is most famous for being part of the repertory company of actors who made up the Carry On film franchise team, in particular playing Matron in the various hospital-themed installments. Between 1949-1965 Hattie was married to fellow actor John Le Mesurier (best known as Sergeant Wilson in the BBC sitcom Dad's Army).
Hattie had enjoyed a successful career almost constantly since the late 1940s, both as part of the Carry On team and outside of it. Although she appeared in a total of 14 Carry On films between 1958-1974, she also had great success alongside comedy actor and writer Eric Sykes in his various TV shows, including 59 episodes of Sykes and a... (1960-65), The Plank (1967) and 68 episodes of Sykes (1972-79). She also worked with Tony Hancock and Frankie Howerd, and appeared in 26 episodes of a now largely forgotten sitcom called Our House (1960-62), co-starring the likes of Norman Rossington and Charles Hawtrey.
|Hattie, aged 50, playing the|
formidable Floella in Carry
On Abroad (1972)
Hattie's role in Carry On Abroad (released December 1972) was markedly reduced in comparison to her earlier franchise appearances, and during post-production the film's insurers became concerned about Hattie's deteriorating health and subsequently told producer Peter Rogers they would be unwilling to insure her on future Carry On films. Nevertheless, Hattie did make one other Carry On film appearance, in 1974's Carry On Dick.
|Hattie's brief cameo as an airport|
security official in Three for
In the autumn of 1974 Hattie suffered a cancer scare and lost a considerable amount of weight. She completed filming of the third series of Sykes, and in early December underwent surgery at Charing Cross Hospital for what turned out to be benign tumours on her kidneys.
|Hattie pictured on March 23rd,|
1977, aged 55
|Hattie in the final episode of|
Sykes in November, 1979
Soon after this Hattie was one of the guests paying tribute to Eric Sykes on a special edition of This is Your Life dedicated to him and broadcast on Christmas Day, 1979. In his autobiography, Eric wrote: "My darling television sister Hattie was there – in fact my life wouldn't have been the same without her. What a fitting way to end the programme."
Hattie's very last professional work was also an Eric Sykes project, the 28-minute comedy short Rhubarb Rhubarb, made for Thames Television and broadcast on December 15th, 1980 - just over two months after her death. It was a remake of Sykes's 1969 original, and Hattie reprised her role as the Nanny, with co-stars Bob Todd, Jimmy Edwards, Beryl Reid, Charlie Drake, Bill Fraser, Roy Kinnear and many more.
|Hattie on Eric Sykes's|
This is Your Life,
Hattie's funeral was held at Putney Vale crematorium, and her ashes scattered there. Eric Sykes was refused permission to attend by her sons as they were unhappy at the way their mother had been treated. On November 10th, a memorial service was held at St Paul's in Covent Garden (aka the Actors' Church), described by Carry On co-star Kenneth Williams in his diary: "It was very full. The choir sang Hattie's favourite songs, then John Le Mesurier talked about Hat and her varied activities (she was a welder in a factory during the war!) and then after a hymn I spoke about my work with her, and finished mentioning the line 'Sweet as a kiss on a winter's day' from the record she gave me, and the George Eliot* quote about 'the comfort of feeling safe with a person'.
|Hattie during an interview with Russell|
Goodrick in 1978 when she was visiting
Perth in Australia on tour
Robin's brother Kim (aka Jake) died in 1991, after becoming a heroin addict. Robin said: "The day before Mum died Jake had an argument with her. That affected him really badly. We became closer and talked a lot. It's strange that he died on the 11th anniversary of Mum's death but I believe that was just a coincidence."
* Not actually an Eliot quote, but from Dinah Maria Mulock's A Life for a Life (1859).
A bit of fun: On February 12th, 1963 Hattie was the star of her own This is Your Life, hosted by Eamonn Andrews: