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Burt Kwouk

I was saddened to learn of the death of Burt Kwouk aged 86. His career began in the fifties with Hancock’s Half Hour and he was always in work typecast as the Oriental. He could do humour as in the Pink Panther movies or sinister as in Tenko and Goldfinger with equal capability. As with many an actor who is typecast there was much more to him. Leslie Howard, typecast as the suave Englishman, was in fact born a Hungarian Jew: Sid James, the archetypal cockney, was actually born in South Africa: Bernard Miles, know for his rustic countryman roles, in real life never ventured further west than Chiswick. Burt Kwouk, though born in Warrington, moved to Shanghai and considered himself Chinese. He was dubbed in You Only Live Twice.

Burt Kwouk was probably better know for his parts than name. Never a top biller, you would always recognize his features and I guess for directors he would not let you down. He typified an age of the cameo and the supporting actor that always enhanced any production. Aside from Cato in the Pink Panther he was a regular in the Bond movies, the only actor to appear in two the same year, Casino Royale and You Only Live Twice. He was phenomenally intelligent, a member of the Beta, Theta Pi fraternity. He received the OBE in the 2011 Honours List  to acknowledge his contribution to drama. A full life well lived and spent.

About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts