A charismatic actor who performed alongside some of the biggest names in showbiz has died. Joe Melia, who grew up in St Matthew's, Leicester, had a glittering theatre, television and film career, starring alongside the likes of Sid James, Morecambe and Wise and Kenneth Williams. The former City of Leicester Boys pupil died on October 20, after suffering heart problems.
The son of Italian parents, Joe was born in Islington, but his family moved to Leicester during the war. 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, alongside Sid James and George Cole.
In an interview with the Mercury in March, 1973, Joe explained his distaste for celebrity culture and the "barriers that separate the general public from the performers". Joe said: "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." When our reporter asked him why he agreed to the interview, if he did not like preferential treatment, he answered: "Oh, simply because you wanted to talk to me and I wished to discuss important things. "But it would greatly disappoint me if people reading this article attached the slightest significance to my opinions, simply because I appear on television."
He lived in Primrose Hill, London, before moving to Stratford-upon Avon, and guest-starred in television programmes including Birds of a Feather and Last of the Summer Wine. Joe's wife Flora passed away in 2008, and he leaves behind his sons Jonathon and Joseph.
Joe appeared in one Euro-western, 1969's "A Talent for Loving" as Tortillaw.