George A. Cooper
Publicity still, 1963
George Alphonsus Cooper
7 March 1925
|Died||16 November 2018 (aged 93)|
|Occupation||Actor and voice artist|
|Anne Shirley Jones|
(m. 1955-2000; (her death)
Cooper was born in Leeds, the son of William and Eleanor (née Dobson) Cooper. His father worked on the railways as a train guard. The younger Cooper began to train as an electrical engineer, but enlisted in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War, acting with the Royal Artillery Depot Players in India.
After a short period as a draughtsman he joined Theatre Workshop, then based in Manchester. Joan Littlewood's company, also based in Glasgow for a time, then concentrated on performing its productions on tour. The company's permanent base became London's Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1953, the opening production being Twelfth Night with Cooper as Malvolio and Harry H. Corbett as Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Both men were often cast in antagonist roles in Theatre Workshop productions during the next few years. Cooper left the company in 1955. Cooper played Geoffrey Fisher, the stern father of the eponymous antihero Billy Liar, in the original West End stage production in 1960. His wife, Shirley Jones (married 1955), who worked as a Theatre Workshop costume assistant, did not like his absences during the evenings, and Cooper himself found eight performances of Billy Liar a week to be a strain. Increasingly he turned to television for work.
He had a recurring role in Coronation Street as Willie Piggott, a dubious businessman, between 1964 and 1971. One of his other regular roles was as the caretaker Mr. Griffiths in the long-running children's TV series Grange Hill. He returned to the role of Geoffrey Fisher in the sitcom version of Billy Liar (1973-74),
Among Cooper's other television credits are Danger Man, Z-Cars, Dixon of Dock Green, No Hiding Place, Doctor Who (in the serial The Smugglers), Softly, Softly, The Avengers, The Saint, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), The Troubleshooters, Steptoe and Son, A Family at War, Doomwatch, Public Eye, Budgie, Bless This House, Sykes, Rising Damp, The New Avengers, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, All Creatures Great and Small, Juliet Bravo, When the Boat Comes In, Terry and June, Taggart, Casualty and Heartbeat.
Cooper had roles in many films including: Violent Playground (1958), Hell Is a City (1960), The Cracksman (1963), Nightmare (1964), Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968) with Christopher Lee and the film version of Bless This House (1972) with Sid James.