Actor Warren Mitchell sadly died today at the age of 89. A statement from his family said the star died in the early hours of Saturday “surrounded by his family. He has been in poor health for some time, but was cracking jokes to the last,” the family added.
Mitchell never completely distanced himself from his most famous character, the bigoted West Ham supporter, Alf Garnett. Warren Mitchell was actually born as Warren Misell on 14 January 1926 in North London.
His father, Monty, was English, while his mother Annie, who died when he was 15, was of Russian descent. His interest in acting started at the age of seven, when he was enrolled in Gladys Gordon’s Academy of Dramatic Arts in Walthamstow, East London. Despite playing the role of a West Ham fan in real lief he was a staunch supporter of Spurs.
The irony of a left-wing, Jewish, Spurs supporter playing a Conservative-voting West Ham fan was not lost on Mitchell, although he became concerned that some of his audience failed to recognise the show as satire. He recalled an exchange with a fellow Spurs fan who had come up to congratulate him on “having a go” at immigrants. “Actually,” Mitchell tersely replied, “We’re having a go at idiots like you.”
He is survived by his wife, a fellow actress, Constance Wake and three children.