6th October 1973
Jeeves actor died in Guernsey
Actor Dennis Price died in Guernsey, aged 58, this day in 1973. He had found fame playing Jeeves, Bertie Wooster’s butler, in the BBC’s 1965 – 1967 adaptations of PC Wodehouse’s novels.
Price had also appeared in several films, of which the most notable was Kind Hearts and Coronets. This 1949 Ealing comedy concerns a man who kills the eight people ahead of him in the line of succession for a dukedom. In that film, he played murderer Louis Mazzini opposite Alec Guinness, who portrayed every member of the D’Ascoyne family that stood between him and the title.
In the mid–1960s, having been declared bankrupt, Price moved to Sark. He was taken to Guernsey in 1973 when he fell and broke a hip, but never recovered and died of heart failure in hospital. His body was returned to Sark for burial in the churchyard at St Peter’s.
Dennis Price had been born Dennistoun Rose-Price in Twyford, Berkshire, in 1915. He made his stage debut aged 22 and within seven years had been cast in the film A Canterbury Tale. His performance earned him a contract from Gainsborough Pictures.
Yet, he didn’t achieve widespread fame until he appeared in Kind Hearts and Coronets in 1949. He was cast as Jeeves in 1965 and continued with the role for three years.
He was married to Joan Schofield between 1939 and 1950 and they had two children. There have been several allusions to either homosexuality of bisexuality since then and to an incident in 1954 which may have been a suicide attempt. He had been found in the gas-filled kitchen of a Kensington guest house, but was resuscitated and survived.