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Also Known As: Melvin Kenneth Smith Died:
Born: December 3, 1952 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: London, England, GB Profession: actor, TV writer, advertising director, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Mel Smith was a popular British comic actor, writer and director of TV and character actor of film who began his career as a busy and versatile stage director. Smith gained some notoriety on the trend-setting comedy "Not the Nine O'Clock News" (BBC, 1979-1982) with Griff Rhys Jones and Rowan Atkinson. Not unlike the early "Saturday Night Live," the series was an irreverent satirical revue that ran the gamut from purely tasteless to memorably brilliant. Smith teamed with Jones to write and star in the top-rated sketch-comedy program "Alas Smith and Jones" (BBC, 1984-1998). He acted in the stage versions of both series and directed "Not in Front of the Audience," based on "Not the Nine O'Clock News."Smith played character parts in films before making the transition to feature directing with "The Tall Guy" (1989), a pleasantly quirky comedy starring Jeff Goldblum and Emma Thompson that featured old colleague Atkinson in a memorable supporting role. Smith has also distinguished himself as a comic advertising director, his spots for Carling Black Label received a Silver Lion at Cannes. American fans of English comedy may have first encountered Smith as the co-star and co-screenwriter (both with Jones) of...

Mel Smith was a popular British comic actor, writer and director of TV and character actor of film who began his career as a busy and versatile stage director. Smith gained some notoriety on the trend-setting comedy "Not the Nine O'Clock News" (BBC, 1979-1982) with Griff Rhys Jones and Rowan Atkinson. Not unlike the early "Saturday Night Live," the series was an irreverent satirical revue that ran the gamut from purely tasteless to memorably brilliant. Smith teamed with Jones to write and star in the top-rated sketch-comedy program "Alas Smith and Jones" (BBC, 1984-1998). He acted in the stage versions of both series and directed "Not in Front of the Audience," based on "Not the Nine O'Clock News."

Smith played character parts in films before making the transition to feature directing with "The Tall Guy" (1989), a pleasantly quirky comedy starring Jeff Goldblum and Emma Thompson that featured old colleague Atkinson in a memorable supporting role. Smith has also distinguished himself as a comic advertising director, his spots for Carling Black Label received a Silver Lion at Cannes. American fans of English comedy may have first encountered Smith as the co-star and co-screenwriter (both with Jones) of the uneven but often hilarious British feature "Morons from Outer Space" (1985) about alien tourists (with English accents) who find themselves on Earth. He received wider exposure in the small role of the Albino in Rob Reiner's beloved fantasy classic, "The Princess Bride" (1987).

Smith returned to American screens for the little-seen old-fashioned comedy "Brain Donors" (1992), playing the Chico Marx figure. He remained behind the camera as the helmer of "Radioland Murders" (1994), a meticulously designed period comedy produced by George Lucas that made barely a peep at the box office. In 1996, he returned to the big screen as Sir Toby Belch in Trevor Nunn's staid filming of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." The following year, he directed Atkinson as his signature character in the wacky feature "Bean" (1997), and he later helmed the overlooked crime comedy "High Heels and Low Lifes" (2001), starring Minnie Driver and Mary McCormack. Appearing less frequently on screens during his final decades, Smith was featured on the BBC ensemble period piece "Dancing on the Edge" mere months before his death in July 2013. Fondly remembered by his peers, most notably Griff Rhys Jones, Smith was also the subject of thoughtful statements by younger comedians who were inspired by him, including Peter Serafinowicz and Graham Linehan.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Blackball (2005) Director
3.
4.
  Bean (1997) Director
5.
  Radioland Murders (1994) Director
6.
  Tall Guy, The (1989) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Twelfth Night (1996) Sir Toby Belch
2.
 Art Deco Detective (1994) Peter Wood
3.
 Brain Donors (1992) Rocco Melonchek
4.
 Wilt (1990) Inspector Flint
5.
 Wolves of Willoughby Chase, The (1989) Mr Grimshaw
6.
 Princess Bride, The (1987) The Albino
7.
 Restless Natives (1986) Pyle
9.
 Morons From Outer Space (1985) Bernard
10.
 Slayground (1984) Terry Abbat
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began performing while at Oxford
:
Toured the US with the Oxford/Cambridge Sshakespeare Company; played Touchstone in "As You Like It"
:
First professional job, as assistant director at the Royal Court Theatre, London
:
Awarded an Arts Council grant to direct plays at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield
:
Became associate director at the Old Vic
1979:
First acting success on BBC-TV series, "Not the Nine O'Clock News" (also writer)
:
Directed stage show, "Not in Front of the Audience," based on "Not the Nine O'Clock News"
1980:
Feature acting debut, "Babylon", a British drama about black working-class life
1981:
"Not the Nine O'Clock News" syndicated on US TV
:
Star and writer of British TV series, "Alas Smith and Jones" (with partner Griff Rhys-Jones); toured Great Britain and Australia with stage show based on series
1984:
First substantial film role, playing a reformed crook in the British thriller, "Slayground"
1985:
Feature screenwriting debut (with Rhys-Jones), "Morons From Outer Space"; also starred and provided theme song
1987:
US feature debut, Rob Reiner's "The Princess Bride"
1989:
Film directorial debut, "The Tall Guy" (also played six uncredited parts)
:
American TV directing debut, "Dream On"
1997:
Directed the hit comedy film "Bean"
2001:
Helmed "High Heels and Lowlifes"
2013:
Appeared in the BBC series "Dancing on the Edge"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

New College, Oxford University: -

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