From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Vittorio Giorgio Andrea Spinetti (2 September 1929 – 18 June 2012) was a Welsh comedy actor, author, poet and raconteur. He appeared in dozens of films and stage plays throughout his 50-year career and is best remembered today for appearing in the three Beatles' films in the 1960s, A Hard Day's Night, Help! and Magical Mystery Tour.
Born in Cwm, Ebbw Vale, Wales, Spinetti was educated at Monmouth School and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, of which he became a Fellow. After various menial jobs, Spinetti pursued a stage career and was closely associated with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop. Among the productions were, Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be and Oh! What a Lovely War (1963), which transferred to New York City and for which he won a Tony Award. Simultaneous to this, Spinetti appeared in dozens of films including Zeffirelli's The Taming of the Shrew, Under Milk Wood, The Return of the Pink Panther and Under the Cherry Moon.
During his later career, Spinetti acted with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in such roles as Lord Foppington in The Relapse and the Archbishop in Richard III, at Stratford-upon-Avon and, in 1990, appeared in The Krays. In 2008 he appeared in a one-man show, A Very Private Diary, which toured the UK, as A Very Private Diary ... Revisited!, recounting his life story. Spinetti was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 and died of the disease in June 2012.
Spinetti was born in Cwm, Ebbw Vale, Wales, of Welsh and Italian heritage from a grandfather who was said to have walked from Italy to Wales to work as a coal miner. His parents, Giuseppe and Lily (née Watson), owned the chip shop in Cwm, over which premises the family lived and where Spinetti was born. Spinetti was the eldest of six; his younger brother, Henry (born 1951), is a session drummer. Spinetti was educated at Monmouth School and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, of which he became a Fellow. Early on he was a waiter and a factory worker. It was at the college that Spinetti met the actor Graham Curnow, who became his partner. The two shared a house and were openly non-monogamous.