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Christopher Hewett; Stage Actor Best Known as TV's 'Mr. Belvedere'

August 05, 2001|From Associated Press

Christopher Hewett, the British-born stage actor perhaps best remembered as television's endearing English butler "Mr. Belvedere," has died. He was 80.

Hewett, whose career began at age 7 on stage in Ireland, had been in declining health for some time, said his nephew, Paul Hewett. He died Friday at his Los Angeles home a day after being released from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Although the stage was his first love, Hewett probably gained his greatest fame playing the endearing title role on "Mr. Belvedere" from 1985 to 1990.

As Lynn Belvedere, he was a onetime butler for England's royal family who moved to the United States and wound up working for a dysfunctional family, some of whose members never did learn to pronounce his name properly. He made his way through the job with wisecracks and sarcasm.

Hewett, whose career spanned more than 60 years, made his acting debut at age 7 on the Dublin stage in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

"I played the Indian prince, a very easy part. No lines, but lots of lovely costumes," he recalled years later.

Born April 5, 1921, in Worthing, England, Hewett joined the British Royal Air Force at 16. On leaving the service, he joined the Oxford Repertory Company, where he recalled appearing in more than 100 plays, including some punctuated by the sounds of bombs exploding during World War II.

"I was back in theater just in time for the Blitz," Hewett said of the German air raids that rained bombs on London during the war.

"Shows were often interrupted by the bombing, but I don't remember that we ever stopped, even during a heavy blitz," he recalled. "We would pause for a minute during the air raid alarm so that anyone who wanted to leave could do so."

He also appeared in several movies, including "Pool of London" and "The Lavender Hill Mob," both in 1951, as well as in the Mel Brooks film "The Producers" in 1968.

His Broadway debut came in 1956 in the original production of "My Fair Lady."

His first foray into television came in the 1976 series "Ivan the Terrible." That was followed by a short stint on "Fantasy Island" in the late 1970s.

He is survived by a sister-in-law and a number of nieces and nephews. A memorial service is scheduled for Friday at St. Victor's Church in West Hollywood.

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