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he apparently British-asBritish-can be Jim Dale, star of Carry On Films and Barnum, and an MBE honored by the Queen for promoting English literature for children, is actually about as Transatlantic as you could wish for. Jim has lived in New York City for 35 years, winning countless awards for his work and has enjoyed dual US-UK nationality for six years. The American talked to Jim in New York just before he headed east, bringing his one man show Just Jim Dale to the London stage. He tells us how it happened: I first came over for the Academy Awards in 1966 for writing ‘Georgy Girl’, the song from the film. [He was nominated for an Oscar.] Then I came over with the Young Vic – I was in their first production in 1970, Scapino, and we took it to America in 1973. Because of that I was offered work in the States. Three Disney films (Pete’s Dragon, Hot Lead and Cold Feet and Unidentified Flying Oddball) came along very quickly then towards the end of the ‘70s I was invited to go back to America to create the role of Barnum in the big Broadway musical. The work was constant in America, I just kept going back, which was rather nice. Do you go back to England often? I used to when my grandchildren were much younger. I have three sons and five grandchildren and they live in London. But now they

28 May 2015

come over to see me more than I go over to see them. They love New York as well - I think they know it more than I do - and we spend weekends in the country fishing and boating. The last time I worked in London was when I played Fagin in Oliver at the Palladium in 1996 and when I do visit I’m there to see the family. Was it work that finally decided you on settling in the USA? Well, I find it’s always a good idea to live where your wife lives! She [Julia Schafler Dale] is an American, she lived in New York and she was the owner of a beautiful art gallery on Madison Avenue. We got married 35 years ago so we got a nice apartment in town. Did you find it easy to migrate to New York? Oh yes. If you’re interested in a career in television or films then you do not you live in New York, you move to Los Angeles where all that action happens, but since moving to America I’ve had no interest in them. I just love theater so much I’d rather do a small play on Broadway if I think it’s a good piece of material or a good director. New York, to me, is home because it has so many theaters and so much happening on the stage here, which is my forte. Incredibly Jim was born on August 15, 1935, making him 80 years old this year. He doesn’t look it, or sound it. He says he’s still 23 inside. But he’s never stopped working. At age nine he started appearing in Music Halls (the

UK form of Vaudeville) touring around Britain for 52 weeks a year. To illustrate his longevity, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2009 and he has just finished a play on Broadway, The Road To Mecca by Athol Fugard, in which he starred with Rosemary Harris. In the UK Jim is best known for the Carry On films, a series of 31 low-budget British comedy films made between 1958 and 1992 from the rich British tradition of music hall comedy and risqué seaside postcards. They were ‘naughty’, rude but never explicit or offensive, with double-entendres a specialty. Jim appeared in 11 of the 31. That was a joy – I enjoyed working on all of them. They made two and a half Carry On films a year. It was only eight weeks work on each film, but it was absolutely eight weeks of fun, working with such comedic talent. In the US Jim is probably most famous for his star roles on Broadway and, outside NYC, for narrating the Harry Potter audio book series, for which he’s had two Grammy nominations and as the narrator of ABC’s Pushing Daisies. Is he treated differently by the public in Britain and America? When I do my one man show out of town over here in America, I find that a lot of the audience have never ever seen me in a Carry On film or even on Broadway. They’ve only been listening to my voice for

The American May 2015 Issue 743  

The American has been published for Americans in Britain since 1976. It's also for Brits who like American culture.

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