Close friend pays tribute to Pink Panther actor Burt Kwouk
- Credit: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES
Tributes have been paid to renowned Hampstead actor Burt Kwouk, famous for his role in the Pink Panther films.
The 85-year-old died on Tuesday at the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead after a battle with cancer.
He shot to fame playing Cato, Inspector Clouseau’s servant in the Pink Panther films, alongside Peter Sellers.
In one memorable scene, he was smashed over the head by Sellers as soon as he put down a telephone receiver.
He also had roles in Last of the Summer Wine and was a regular guest artist on the Harry Hill Show.
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He once said: “I’ve never done a days work in my life. I’ve just spent it enjoying myself – and waiting.”
Close friend Aline Waites said: “Burt was one of the ‘silly old people’ in our luncheon club which met on a reasonably regular basis.
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“Burt didn’t want people to know about his illness.
“When he started getting too tired to come to the lunches I used to call him fairly regularly. “Then one day, he said :‘Hello Aline, I have got Cancer but don’t tell anybody’
“Even after being admitted to the Marie Curie Hospice no one was allowed to know.
“He went in for two weeks and stayed for ten.
“They loved him so much they didn’t want him to go.
“His wife Caroline has been his daily visitor.
“He said he’d had a wonderful life.
“(He was) always busy and he’d got his OBE which thrilled him.”
Of Chinese heritage, having lived in Cheshire, Shanghai, New York and London, when he first came to England he was living in bedsits
He eventually got a job as a film extra and was ‘discovered’.
He soon became a familiar figure with his distinctive appearance and his slightly husky voice with its lazy New York accent.
He was a popular figure among actors.
Aline said: “After shows, actors would gather at various actors’ boites around town.
“Macready’s for supper, Gerry’s to hear Kenny Clayton play the piano and eventually The Buckstone – now alas defunct.
“After that, it was China Town and Breakfast with the Mighty Kwouk.
“The world will miss him.”