Joe Melia - Character Actor Nov 5, 2012 10:57:05 GMT 1
Post by Laurence on Nov 5, 2012 10:57:05 GMT 1
Photo courtesy of Aveleyman.com
A charismatic character actor who performed alongside some of the biggest names in showbiz, Joe Melia who enjoyed a theatre, television and film career, starring alongside the likes of Sid James, Morecambe and Wise and Kenneth Williams, died on October 20 2012 after suffering heart problems.
Melia was born to Italian parents in 1935 over a barbershop in Camden Town but soon after they moved to Islington. When the War broke out they moved again, this time to to Leicester where Melia attended City of Leicester Boys. After his national service with the Intelligence Corps, Melia got a place at Cambridge University, studying language.
Part of the esteemed Cambridge Footlights Review he was spotted by a talent scout and offered a part in the 1959 comedy film Too Many Crooks playing a character called Whisper. The film starred Terry-Thomas, George Cole, Bernard Breslaw, Sid James, Vera Day and John Le Mesurier.
His first TV appearance came in Drama 62, a television play broadcast on the ITV network on 1 July 1962. His first starring role was alongside Roy Kinnear in the 1965 sitcom A Slight Case Of... in which Kinnear starred as a private eye. Kinnear and Melia were the only regular characters in the sitcom. The writer was Leon Griffiths who went on to invent the character of Arthur Daley in the ITV series Minder. Melia went on to make guest appearances in Not Only...But Also, Man in a Suitcase, Softly Softly, The Mind of Mr. J.G. Reeder, Public Eye, Minder, Birds of a Feather and The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. He also appeared 16 times as a storyteller on Jackanory. He compered BBC2's Full House and appeared in dozens of films including The Intelligence Men, Oh! What a Lovely War and Privates on Parade. In 1982, Melia won a Laurence Olivier Award for "Best Actor in a Supporting Role" for the play, Good.
Melia lived in Primrose Hill, London, before moving to Stratford-upon Avon. In an interview in 1973 Melia explained his distaste for celebrity culture and the "barriers that separate the general public from the performers". He explained, "I'm only doing my job. I'd like to see a situation where celebrities get no more credit for doing their job than a chef would for cooking a fine meal."
He spent his later life enjoying reading, opera, theatre and travelling in Europe. Melia's wife Flora passed away in 2008, and he leaves behind his sons Jonathon and Joseph. His sister, Trish Kenyon said: "He was a great man who was great company and that's how he will be remembered."