A long-standing devotee of entertainment, Leslie Phillips, most famous for his role in the Carry On films, has died “peacefully in his sleep” at the age of 98.
His death was confirmed by agent Jonathan Lloyd and came after fighting a long-suffering illness.
The veteran actor held almost eight decades of experience on the silver screen, and became a household name through his comedic catchphrases “Ding Dong’, “Well, hello”, and “I say”.
Phillips’ wife Zara, 63, paid tribute, telling The Sun she’d “lost a wonderful husband”.
“And the public has lost a truly great showman,” she continued.
“He was quite simply a national treasure. People loved him. He was mobbed everywhere he went.”
Zara remembered the actor for his iconic sense of humour.
“When we married he cheekily introduced me to the Press as royalty, insisting I was the new Zara Phillips and that I was related to the Queen,” she said.
Phillips’ incredible career saw him star in over 200 movies, television series, stage productions, and radio shows, working alongside the likes of Ronnie Barker and Jon Pertwee for the popular BBC radio series The Navy Lark.
Born in Tottenham, London, on April 20, 1924, Leslie Samuel Phillips was the third child in a working-class family.
Despite his glittering career, the star had a tumultuous life, beginning at the age of nine when his father died from fumes while working at a factory making gas cookers.
His mother sent him away the following year to lose his Cockney accent, and at the age of 14, he was acting in plays at West End, and two years later he starred in his first film The Thief of Baghdad.
Phillips’ career included a stint in the army where he served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry in World War II. However, he was declared unfit for service after a nervous illness left him with partial paralysis, right as D-Day was around the corner.
He married fellow actress Penelope Bartly in 1948, and the pair had four children together before their divorce in 1965.
Despite maintaining a friendly relationship after the divorce, when Bartly died in a house fire in 1981, Phillips didn’t attend her funeral which affected the actor’s relationship with his children who never forgave him.
He remarried in 1982, to Bond girl Angela Scoular.
In 1993, Phillips’ mother passed away after being mugged at a bus stop where she put up a fight, resulting in several broken bones. His sister Doris was unable to move on from the distressing event and died six months later.
In 2011, Scoular died of a drug and alcohol overdose after she’d tried to help ease the pain of her terminal cancer. Phillips was comforted by Zara, who was a family friend at the time.
Phillips’ life was saved by his third wife in 2015 after he suffered a life-threatening stroke and her quick actions got him to the hospital. He lived out the remainder of his life confined to a wheelchair.
Friends, fans and fellow actors paid tribute to the beloved star on social media.
No, they’ve got it wrong. Leslie Phillips isn’t allowed to die. It’s the law!! What a chap though. And what a life.
I’ll tell you what, take a look at this if you haven’t already. The look on his face 25 seconds in will make your day.
God bless Leslie Phillips!
RIP xx pic.twitter.com/jwjdqhobTO
— James Hogg (@JamesAHogg2) November 8, 2022
RIP Leslie Phillips. Working with him was a joy. And yes he did say DING DONG (because I asked him to) ❤️ pic.twitter.com/77231UnZzt
— Tony Maudsley (@TonyMaudsley1) November 8, 2022
Read the news about Leslie Phillips as I was walking down a busy street and just had to find somewhere to sit down for a moment and have a little cry. Felt like he’d be around forever. The master of suave. What a hero. RIP. pic.twitter.com/dt7nP9puCl
— Pip (@pipmadeley) November 8, 2022
RIP Leslie Phillips, 98.
Wonderful character & superb comedy actor, best known for his what he called his ‘lecherous twit’ roles in the Carry On & Doctor In The House films with his catchphrases, ‘Ding Dong’, ‘Well, Hello’ and ‘I Say..’ Sad news. pic.twitter.com/EzzjGstp7U
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) November 8, 2022
God bless Leslie Phillips. A true legend, a national treasure and, most importantly, a gentleman. Before this photo was taken he asked my permission before holding my wife Lisa’s hand. RIP Leslie, you will be sorely missed. pic.twitter.com/Qnz39tfAkg
— Stuart Ball (@StuviewTV) November 8, 2022
Phillips is survived by his wife Zara, and four children.