Jim Dale Overview
Jim Dale was born in 1935 in Northamptonshire. He started his career on the stage of the British music halls. His film debut came in 1961 in “Raising the Wind”. His inital (of many appearances)contribution to the Carry On series was in 1963 in “Carry On Cabby”. He made nine further appearances in the series. Other films include “The National Health” and “Pete’s Dragon”. He has been very popular in stage musicals both in the U.S. and Britain.
Best known for his stage work in Britain and on Broadway, Jim Dale starred in New York as “Barnum!”, the musical about the circus impresario, for two years (1979-81), winning a Tony Award for his efforts. He also racked up an Academy Award nomination for writing the title song for the 1966 film “Georgy Girl”. Dale trained in acrobatics and ballet as a youth, and made his professional debut while still a teen in Kettering, England, working as a comedian.
When he was 19, Dale performed in a production of “The Wayward Way,” and when he was 22, made his London debut playing the title role in a production of “The Burglar”. In 1974, he traveled to the Brooklyn Academy of Music with the Young Vic Company’s production of “The Taming of the Shrew” and remained in Brooklyn to direct, score and star in “Scapino” (1974), which eventually moved across the East River to Broadway. “Barnum!” (which featured Glenn Close as Barnum’s wife) followed and, in 1984, Dale toured the US as “The Music Man”.
He settled in on Broadway again to star with Stockard Channing and Joanna Gleason in the revival of “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg”. In 1995, he was Off-Broadway in an all-male version of “Travels With My Aunt”. In the latter, Dale was Aunt Augusta, the role Dame Maggie Smith had portrayed in the 1972 film version of the Auntie Mame-ish tale.
Dale first appeared in films with “Raising the Wind” (1961). He was an aptly-named sailor called “Lusty” in the unsuccessful 1969 farce “Lock Up Your Daughters!”, the peddler in “Joseph Andrews” (1977), and the villainous Dr. Terminus that same year in Disney’s unsuccessful “Pete’s Dragon”.
Dale did have the title role in “Carry on Columbus” (1992), a take on the explorer’s history. TV roles have also been sporadic, with Dale frequently appearing on variety programs, such as hosting “Sunday Night at the London Palladium” (1973), and “The 116th Edition of the Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus” (1986). He played The Duke in the “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (PBS, 1985) and also had a supporting role in TNT’s 1993 rendition of “Arthur Miller’s ‘The American Clock'”.
The above TCM overview can be accessed also online here.