Vicar of Dibley's John Bluthal dies, aged 89

Image caption,
John Bluthal played Frank Pickle in the Vicar of Dibley

John Bluthal, who was best known for playing Frank Pickle in the Vicar of Dibley, has died at the age of 89.

The actor also appeared in a number of Carry On and Pink Panther films, in a career spanning over 60 years.

His co-star, Dawn French, led the tributes to Bluthal, who passed away on Thursday in New South Wales, Australia.

She posted on Twitter: "Tons of happy laughs remembered today. Cheeky, naughty, hilarious. Bye darlin Bluey."

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Confirming news of his death, talent agency The Artists Partnership said: "It is with much sadness that we must let you know the legendary actor John Bluthal passed away on 15th November 2018 in New South Wales, Australia.

"He died peacefully in hospital, surrounded by loving family members, following complications from a fall. He leaves behind beloved daughters Lisa and Nava."

Bluthal was born in Poland in 1929 and emigrated to Australia with his family in 1938, before moving to the UK permanently to pursue acting in 1960.

Much of his early work was in the theatre, where he appeared in Oliver! in the West End and a Peter Hall production of Antony and Cleopatra - with Judi Dench and Anthony Hopkins.

Image caption,
John Bluthal (left) as Frank Pickle with the rest of the cast in the 1996 Vicar of Dibley Christmas special

Aside from playing, Pickle, the secretary for the Dibley parish council, Bluthal also appeared in TV programmes 'Allo 'Allo!, Minder and Last of the Summer Wine. His film credits include three Carry On films and The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night and Help!

More recently he appeared in 2016's Coen Brothers' film Hail, Caesar! playing Professor Marcuse opposite George Clooney.

His final appearance was earlier this year in his daughter Lisa Bluthal's short film, By Any Other Name - a comedy about a woman dealing with her father's Alzheimer's.

Bluthal's Vicar of Dibley co-star, Emma Chambers - who played Alice - died at the age of 53 earlier this year.

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