Bernard Bresslaw was born in Stepney, London, England on February 25, 1934. Bernard Bresslaw was born the youngest of three boys into a Jewish family. He attended the Coopers' Company's School in Tredegar Square, Bow, London E3. His father was a tailor's cutter and he became interested in acting after visits to the Hackney Empire. London County Council awarded him a scholarship to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where he won the Emile Littler Award as the most promising actor. After Educating Archie on radio and The Army Game on television, more television, film and Shakespearean theatre roles followed, until he was cast in “Carry On Cowboy” in 1965. Although officially starring in 14 Carry On films, Bresslaw did appear in one other: “Carry On Nurse”. The legs of Terence Longdon were deemed to be too thin and scrawny looking, so Bresslaw's were used as stand-ins for the scene where Joan Sims gives him a bath.
Bresslaw's catchphrase, in his strong Cockney accent, was "I only arsked" (sic), first used in The Army Game, and later revived in “Carry On Camping” (1969). In his fleeting appearance as an angry lorry driver in the 1970 film Spring and Port Wine, his character was dubbed.
At 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m), he was the tallest of the Carry On cast, head and shoulders over fellow Carry On regular Barbara Windsor, who is 4 ft 10 in (1.47 m). Because of his height he was briefly considered for the part of the Creature in Hammer's “Curse of Frankenstein” (1957), which ultimately went instead to 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) Christopher Lee. Bresslaw later made a comedy version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for Hammer titled “The Ugly Duckling” (1959). He made great efforts to prepare for roles, for example learning genuine Swahili phrases for “Carry On Up the Jungle” (1970).
He wass featured as Varga, the lead villain in the 1967 Doctor Who story “The Ice Warriors”. Even though all the actors playing the aliens were over six feet tall, Bresslaw towered over them. Sonny Caldinez, who played an Ice Warrior in the story, stated in a 2004 interview that Bresslaw "was the only man that could make me feel small."
Bresslaw was the author of a privately published volume of poetry, Ode to the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Bresslaw was married to dancer Betty Wright from 1959 until his death. They had three sons: James, Mark and Jonathan.
Bresslaw died of a sudden heart attack on 11 June 1993. He had collapsed in his dressing room at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park, London, where he was to play Grumio in the New Shakespeare Company's production of Taming of the Shrew, the day after the death of fellow comedy performer Les Dawson. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, north London, where his ashes were buried on 17 June 1993.
BRESSLAW, Bernard [2/25/1934, Stepney, London, England, U.K. – 6/11/1993, London, England, U.K. (heart attack)] – singer, stage, radio, TV, voice actor, poet, author, married to dancer Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Wright (1959-1993), father of James Bresslaw, Mark Bresslaw, Jonathan Bresslaw.
Carry on Cowboy - 1965 (Little Heap)