Arthur Treacher

For Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips, see Arthur Treacher's.
Arthur Treacher

Treacher in 1939
Born Arthur Veary Treacher
(1894-07-23)23 July 1894
Brighton, Sussex, England
Died 14 December 1975(1975-12-14) (aged 81)
Manhasset, New York, US
Cause of death cardiovascular disease
Occupation Actor
Years active 1926–1964
Spouse(s) Virginia Taylor
(m.1940–1975; his death)

Arthur Veary Treacher (23 July 1894 – 14 December 1975) was an English actor known for playing recognizable English stereotypes, especially butler and manservant roles, such as the P.G. Wodehouse valet character Jeeves and the kind butler Andrews in Heidi. He later became a well-known personality on American television, and lent his name to a fish and chips franchise.

Early life

Treacher was the son of a Sussex solicitor. He was educated at boarding school in Uppingham in Rutland.


Treacher was a veteran of World War I, serving as an officer in the Royal Garrison Artillery; his father had served with the Sussex Volunteer Artillery before his son's birth. After the war, he established a stage career and in 1926, went to America as part of a musical-comedy revue called Great Temptations. He was featured in the 1930 Billy Rose production Sweet and Low.

He began his film career in the 1930s, which included roles in four Shirley Temple films: Curly Top (1935), uncredited Stowaway (1936), Heidi (1937) and The Little Princess (1939). Scenes intentionally put the 6' 4" Treacher standing or dancing side-by-side with the tiny child actress. They sing and dance together in The Little Princess an old song "Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road" (clip available on YouTube.[1]) Treacher filled the role of the ideal butler, and he portrayed P. G. Wodehouse's valet character Jeeves in the films Thank You, Jeeves! (1936) and Step Lively, Jeeves (1937). (Wodehouse, however, was unhappy with the way these films turned out, and refused to authorize any further Jeeves films.[2]) Treacher played a valet or butler in several other films, including Personal Maid's Secret, Mister Cinderella and Bordertown. He was also caricatured in the 1941 cartoon Hollywood Steps Out.

In 1961 and 1962, he and William Gaxton starred in Guy Lombardo's production of the musical Paradise Island, which played at the Jones Beach Marine Theater.[3][4]

In 1962, he replaced Robert Coote as King Pellinore (with over-the-title star billing) in the original Broadway production of Lerner and Loewe's musical Camelot, and he remained with the show through the Chicago engagement and post-Broadway tour that closed in August 1964.

In 1964, Treacher played the role of stuffy English butler Arthur Pinkney in two episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies. Pinkney mistakenly believed the hillbillies were the domestic servants of the family he was hired by, while the hillbillies believed Pinkney was a boarder at their Beverly Hills mansion.

Treacher and Merv Griffin on Griffin's CBS talk show, 1969.

Later career

Treacher played the role of Constable Jones in Disney's Mary Poppins and made many guest appearances on US television, in addition to being Merv Griffin's announcer and sidekick on The Merv Griffin Show from 1965–70 ("...and now, here's the dear boy himself, Merrr-vyn!") When Griffin switched from syndication to CBS in 1969, the network brass insisted that Treacher was too old for the show, but Griffin fought to keep Treacher and eventually won out. However, when Griffin moved his show to Los Angeles the following year, Treacher stayed behind, telling Griffin "at my age, I don't want to move, especially to someplace that shakes!"

During this period of latter-day popularity, Treacher also capitalised on his name recognition through the use of his name and image for such franchised business concerns as the Call Arthur Treacher Service System (a household help agency) and Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips. The restaurant chain became popular in the 1970s and grew to nearly 900 outlets, although it is unclear whether or not Treacher had any financial involvement with the company. The fish and chips chain continues to exist, though by 2016 there were only seven restaurants still in existence.[5]


Arthur died at the age of 81 of heart disease. He was survived by his wife, Virginia Taylor, who married him in 1940. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Atlantic Ocean.

Partial filmography


  1. Arthur Treacher and Shirley Temple Wotcher! Knocked Em' in the Old Kent Road on YouTube
  2. Taves, Brian (2006). P. G. Wodehouse and Hollywood. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-2288-2.
  3. "Theater: Straw Hat Shows – Marine Theater, Jones Beach, LI". Life. 16 June 1961. p. 23.
  4. Jones Beach Lifeguard Corps. "Forum pages".
  5. "Arthur Treacher's". Retrieved 26 April 2016.

External links

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