|Birth Day:||August 18, 1937|
|Death Date:||Dec 11, 1996 (age 59)|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Willie Rushton died on Dec 11, 1996 (age 59).
During his time at the Shrewsbury School, he contributed cartoons to the school's literary publication and to a satirical magazine called The Wallopian.
The Salopians finally found a financier for their magazine and the first issue of Private Eye was published on 25 October 1961. Rushton put it together in his bedroom in Scarsdale Villas using Letraset and cow-gumming illustrations onto cards which were taken away to be photo-lithographed. He also contributed all the illustrations and the mast-head figure of Little Gnitty (who still appears on the cover, a blended caricature of John Wells and the Daily Express standard-head). One critic described the original lay-out of the magazine as owing much to "Neo-Brechtian Nihilism", although Rushton thought it resembled a betting shop floor. One feature in the early issues was the "Aesop Revisited", a full-page comic strip which let him work in a wealth of puns and background jokes. With Private Eye riding the satire boom, Peter Cook soon took an interest and contributed two serials recounting the bizarre adventures of Sir Basil Nardly-Stoads and the Rhandi Phurr, both of which were illustrated by Rushton, as was "Mrs Wilson's Diary". In the early days the team also worked on two books, Private Eye on London and Private Eye's Romantic England that make heavy use of his cartooning talents. One of the first Private-Eye-published books was Rushton's first collection of cartoons, Willie Rushton's Dirty Weekend Book (banned in Ireland).
Reuniting with his Salopian chums had also reawakened Rushton's taste for acting. After they had finished university, he had accompanied his friends in a well-received revue at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. (Richard Burton even appeared one night in their parody of Luther.) In 1961, Richard Ingrams directed a production of Spike Milligan's surreal post-nuclear apocalypse farce The Bed-Sitting Room, in which Rushton was hailed by Kenneth Tynan as "brilliant". But it was a cabaret at the Room at the Top, a chicken-in-a-basket nightclub at the top of a department store in Ilford, that really launched his career. Rushton recalled meeting the Kray twins in the audience one night and that fellow performer Barbara Windsor "wouldn't come out for a drink that night". The revue also starred John Wells. Rushton's impersonation of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan caught the attention of Ned Sherrin, a young BBC producer searching for talent to appear in a forthcoming TV satire series.
When TW3 was cancelled in anticipation of the 1964 election, Rushton and some of the cast, as well as some of the members of the Cambridge University revue Cambridge Circus (including future Goodies Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie), went on tour in America as David Frost Presents TW3. Rushton and Barry Fantoni (another Private Eye contributor) entered a painting titled Nude Reclining, a satirical portrait of three establishment types, for the 1963 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition under the name of Stuart Harris, which excited much controversy. He also began a career as a character actor for films in 1963. In late 1964 Rushton was involved as one of the hosts in the early episodes of another satirical programme, Not So Much a Programme, but drifted away as it became the vehicle that launched David Frost as a chat show host. In 1964 he appeared as Richard Burbage in Sherrin and Caryl Brahms' musical of No Bed for Bacon, while his early stature as a personality was confirmed by a cartoon advert he devised for the Brewers' Society proclaiming the charms of the local pub. Rushton did his own host duties for New Stars and Garters, a variety entertainment show in 1965, where he first met Arlene Dorgan. He also appeared as a guest in programmes including Not Only... But Also with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
During the late 1960s, Rushton spent much of his time in Australia, following Dorgan back to her homeland. He married her in 1968. He also had several series of his own on Australian television, Don’t Adjust Your Set – The Programme is at Fault and From Rushton with Love. He said of Australia, "They've got their priorities right, they're dedicated to lying in the sun, knocking back ice-cold beer". During this period he found time to model for She magazine and also appear in a 1967 stage production of Treasure Island as Squire Trelawney, alongside Spike Milligan and Barry Humphries, at the Mermaid Theatre in London. It was on one of his return visits to the UK in 1968 that he also brought back the late Tony Hancock's ashes to the UK in an Air France bag – "My session with the Customs was a Hancock's Half Hour in itself."
Rushton had always been conscious of his weight, listing his recreations in Who's Who as "gaining weight, losing weight and parking", and in 1973 he had been the host of a slimming programme, Don't Just Sit There. His first major health scare had been the onset of diabetes (the cause of his father's death in 1958). Having to give up beer, Rushton became, according to Ingrams, "quite grumpy as a result, but his grumpiness had an admirable and jaunty quality to it." A sudden loss of three stone had prevented him from playing in Prince Rainier's XI at Monte Carlo, Monaco. Rushton was always passionate about cricket. His father had sent him for coaching at Lord's before he went to Shrewsbury. His cricket and general knowledge were called upon in his role as a regular team captain on BBC Radio 4's quiz show Trivia Test Match with Tim Rice and Brian Johnston, which ran from 1986 to 1993. Rushton was always an enthusiastic cricketer, playing in the Lord's Taverners, a charity celebrity cricket team.
For 22 years until his death, he was a panellist in the long-running BBC Radio 4 panel comedy game show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, which he joined as a regular team member in the third series in 1974. In its later years, the show's wealth of silliness, smut and punning was drawing audiences of up to a thousand people for its recordings. In 1990 he teamed up with his co-panellist Barry Cryer in their own show Two old Farts in the Night, performing to full audiences at the Edinburgh festival, the Royal Albert Hall and the Festival Hall, touring the country irregularly until Rushton's death.
Rushton had not been involved in Private Eye since the latter part of the 1960s, other than a brief stint illustrating "Mrs Wilson's Diary" when the Labour Party came back into power in the mid-1970s. He returned to Private Eye in 1978 to take over the task of illustrating "Auberon Waugh's Diary", which continued until 1986. The cartoons perfectly complemented Auberon Waugh's scabrous and surreal flights of invective, and when Waugh moved his column to The Daily Telegraph as the "Way of the World" in 1990, Rushton followed, drawing at Waugh's instruction such surreal concepts as Richard Ingrams pretending to be a seven-year-old choirgirl, the head of a dead cow coming out of a computer connected to the then-new (in common usage) internet and a nude statue of Benjamin Britten with a bird bath discreetly covering its private parts. The Victoria and Albert Museum, recognising his accomplishments, commissioned 24 large colour illustrations which were collected as Willie Rushton's Great Moments of History. (Rushton had previous experience with the V&A when he had pulled a prank on the institution by labelling an electric plug socket in one of the galleries: "Plug hole designed by Hans Plug (b. 1908)", which remained for a full year – to the great annoyance of a cleaner who had to use a hefty extension lead for 12 months so as not to damage the exhibit.) This large-scale excursion into the use of colour was good practice for the monthly colour covers he created for the Literary Review when Waugh became its editor in 1986. Rushton drew these covers along with the fortnightly caricatures for Private Eye's literary review page until he died.
He appeared in cameo roles in films, including Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965), Monte Carlo or Bust (1969), The Best House in London (1969) and The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972). He played Tim Brooke-Taylor's gay husband in Sharon Tate's last film before her murder, The Thirteen Chairs (1969), and Tobias Cromwell in Flight of the Doves (1971), as well as appearing in sex comedies such as Keep It Up Downstairs (1976), Adventures of a Private Eye (1977) and Adventures of a Plumber's Mate (1978). His final film appearance was as Big Teddy in Consuming Passions released in 1988. As a TV actor in the 1970s he appeared in episodes of popular programmes as different as The Persuaders!, Colditz (episode: "The Guests" – Major Trumpington in a kilt) and Up Pompeii! as the narrator Plautus. He was Dr Watson to John Cleese's Sherlock Holmes in N. F. Simpson's surreal comedy Elementary, My Dear Watson. In 1975 and 1976 he appeared in well-received pantomimes of Gulliver’s Travels; in 1981 in Eric Idle's Pass the Butler; and in 1988 as Peter Tinniswood's irascible Brigadier in Tales from a Long Room. Rushton also wrote two musicals:
In 1989 he performed in The Secret Policeman's Biggest Ball. His act consisted of singing "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" and acting out the lyrics, which left him standing in a top hat, white tie, and tails – but no trousers. In his later years his cartoons were part of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
Rushton died of a heart attack at Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, in 1996, aged 59. He had predicted this ten years earlier, presumably in jest, on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. In the first episode of Series 13, which aired on 26 July 1986, Chairman Humphrey Lyttelton asked the panellists to "gaze into their crystal balls" and make predictions for 1996. Rushton said, "I'm sorry you introduced this round, because I just spotted a memorial service for myself in Westminster Abbey". Among his last words was the advice, "Tell Bazza he's too old to do pantomime", meant for his long-time friend Barry Cryer.
Willie grew up in London, England. Willie married Arlene Dorgan in 1968.
Currently, Willie Rushton is 85 years, 1 months and 18 days old. Willie Rushton will celebrate 86th birthday on a Friday 18th of August 2023. Below we countdown to Willie Rushton upcoming birthday.