Jim Dale

Jim Dale

Dale with his Barnum co-star Glenn Close performing Busker Alley, 2006
Born James Smith
(1935-08-15) 15 August 1935
Rothwell, Northamptonshire, England, UK
  • Actor
  • lyricist
  • singer
  • comedian
  • voice actor
Years active 1951–present
Spouse(s) Patricia Dale (m. 1957; div. 1977)
Julia Schafler (m. 1980)
Children 4
Website Official site

James "Jim" Dale, MBE (born 15 August 1935), is an English actor, voice artist, and singer-songwriter. In the United Kingdom, he is best known for his many appearances in the Carry On series of films. In the United States, he is most recognized for narrating the Harry Potter audiobook series (for which he received two Grammy Awards) and the ABC series Pushing Daisies (2007–2009); he also had a prominent role in the Disney film Pete's Dragon (1977).

Dale is renowned worldwide as the lyricist of the song "Georgy Girl", the theme for the 1966 film of the same name, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award. In the 1970s, he was a member of the National Theatre Company[1] and began performing actively in Broadway theatre.

Early life

Dale was born James Smith to William Henry and Miriam Jean (née Wells) Smith in Rothwell, Northamptonshire.[2] He was educated at Kettering Grammar School. He trained as a dancer for six years, before his debut as a stage comic in 1951.[3] He performed two years' national service in the Royal Air Force.[3][4]



As a songwriter, Dale is best remembered as the lyricist for the film theme "Georgy Girl", for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song[4] and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 1966. The song (performed by the Seekers) reached number 2 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart the following year, it also made number 3 in Dale's native UK and Number 1 in Australia, going on to sell over seven million records around the world. He also wrote lyrics for the title song of the films The Winter's Tale, Shalako, Twinky (Lola in the United States), and Joseph Andrews.

At the age of twenty-two he became the first pop singer under the wing of Sir George Martin, who produced all his hit records. Several of his songs entered the UK Singles Chart, including "Be My Girl" (1957, UK No.2), "Just Born (To Be Your Baby)" (1958, UK No.27), "Crazy Dream" (1958, UK No. 24) and "Sugartime" (1958, UK No. 25).[5]

In 1957, he was one of the presenters on BBC Television's Six-Five Special.[3] Dale also wrote and recorded the song "Dick-a-Dum-Dum (King's Road)", which became a hit for Des O'Connor in 1969.[6]


Dale's film debut was in Six Five Special (1958), a spinoff from the BBC TV series of the same name.[7] This film was also released under the name 'Calling All Cats'. He then had a tiny role as a trombone player[8] who thwarts orchestral conductor Kenneth Williams in the comedy Raising the Wind (1961). However, he is best known in Britain for his appearances in eleven Carry On films,[4] a long-running series of comedy farces, generally playing the hapless romantic lead. His Carry On career began as an expectant father in Carry On Cabby (1963), and was followed by Carry On Jack (1963), Carry On Spying (1964), Carry On Cleo (1964) and Carry On Cowboy (1965) - where he played a character called Marshall P Knutt. Then came Carry On Screaming! (1966),[3] Don't Lose Your Head (1966), Follow That Camel (1967), Carry On Doctor (1967) and Carry On Again Doctor (1969) and the 1992 Carry On Revival film Carry On Columbus. Dale played Harold, the policeman in the 1965 comedy film The Big Job with two of his regular Carry On co-stars: Sidney James and Joan Sims. He played Dr. Terminus in Walt Disney's Pete's Dragon (1977).[9] He was the star of the Walt Disney comedy movie Hot Lead and Cold Feet (1978).[3]


At age eighteen Dale became one of the youngest professional comedians in Britain, touring all the variety music halls. On stage he appeared in both dramatic and musical roles. He has been nominated for five Tony Awards, winning one for Barnum (1980) for which the New York Times described him as "The Toast of Broadway",[10] also winning the second of four Drama Desk Awards.[11]

In 1970 Sir Laurence Olivier[10] invited Dale to join the National Theatre Company in London, then based at the Old Vic. At the Young Vic Theatre, he created the title role in Scapino (ca. 1970), which he co-adapted with Frank Dunlop,[12][13] and played Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew.[13]

His other UK credits include The Card (1973),[14] and The Wayward Way in London. He appeared in The Winter's Tale as Autolycus and A Midsummer Night's Dream as Bottom at the Edinburgh Festivals in 1966 and 1967 for Frank Dunlop's Pop Theatre.[15] He took over the part of Fagin in Cameron Mackintosh’s Oliver! at the London Palladium in September 1995.[16]

His Broadway performances include Scapino (1974) (Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Award, Tony Award Nomination), Joe Egg (1985) (Outer Critics Award, Tony Award Nomination), Me And My Girl (1986) and Candide (1997) (Tony Award Nomination).[17] In 2006, Dale performed on Broadway (at Studio 54) in the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of The Threepenny Opera, as Mr. Peachum.[18] He received nominations for the Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics' Award, The Richard Seff Award and the Tony Award for this role.

Credits Off-Broadway include Travels With My Aunt (1995)[19] (Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Award, Outer Critics Award), Privates On Parade (1989),[20] Comedians (2003)[21] (Drama Desk Award nomination and a Lucille Lortel Award nomination) and Address Unknown (2004).[22]

Other stage work includes: The Taming of the Shrew as Petruchio with the Young Vic, London (1970) and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York (1974); The Music Man U.S. tour (1984),[2] and The Invisible Man at the Cleveland Play House (1998).[23] He played the part of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol: The Musical at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City, from 28 November to 27 December 2003.[3][24]

Dale starred as "Charlie Baxter" in a one-night only concert version of the musical, Busker Alley alongside Glenn Close on 13 November 2006. This was a benefit for the York Theatre Company, and was held at Hunter College in New York City.[25] He appears in a one-man show, Just Jim Dale, looking back over nearly sixty years in show business. The show opened on 15 May 2014 at the Roundabout Theatre Company Laura Pels Theatre.[26]


Source: The New York Times[27]

Dale opened every episode of the ABC drama Pushing Daisies (2009) as the unseen narrator.[10][33]

Voice work

In the United States, Jim Dale is known as the "voice" of Harry Potter. He has recorded all seven books in the Harry Potter series as audiobooks,[34] and as a narrator he has won two Grammy Awards in 2008 and 2001, seven Grammy nominations[35] and a record ten Audie Awards[3] including "Audio Book of the Year 2004," "Best Children's Narrator 2001/2005/2007/2008," "Best Children's Audio Book 2005," two Benjamin Franklin Awards from the Independent Book Publishers Association[10] (one of these was in 2001 for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)[36] and 23 Audio File Earphone Awards.

He narrates the Harry Potter video games and many of the interactive "extras" on the Harry Potter DVD releases. He also holds a Guinness World Record for occupying the first six places in the Top Ten Audio Books of America and Canada 2005.[37] He previously held one for creating and recording 134 different character voices for one audiobook, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, [38] Dale opened every episode of the ABC drama Pushing Daisies as the unseen narrator.[10][33]

In the early 1960s, Dale presented Children's Favourites on BBC Radio, for a year.

He narrated Peter and the Starcatchers (2004) audio book,[39] and its three sequels.


In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II honoured Dale with the MBE, as part of the Royal Birthday Honours List, for his work in promoting English literature for children.[40]


In December 2009, for their annual birthday celebration to Noël Coward, the eponymous Noël Coward Society invited Dale to be the guest celebrity to lay flowers in front of Coward's statue at New York City's Gershwin Theatre on Broadway, thus commemorating Coward's 110th birthday.

Dale is renowned for performing his own on-screen stunts.

Selected filmography

Source: The New York Times[27]

Awards and nominations

Sources: allmusic.com;[3] Playbillvault;[11] Audio Publisher[41]



  1. Olivier at Work, ed. Lyn Haill, (1989), p 103
  2. 1 2 "Jim Dale Biography" filmreference.com, accessed 18 June 2014
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Jim Dale Biography" allmusic.com, accessed 16 June 2014
  4. 1 2 3 "BFI ScreenOnline".
  5. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London, UK: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 138. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London, UK: Guinness World Records Ltd. p. 403. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  7. http://www.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/4ce2b76c9a8fb
  8. " Raising the Wind Cast" tcm.com, accessed 17 June 2014
  9. " Pete's Dragon Cast" tcm.com, accessed 17 June 2014
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 "Jim Dale" masterworksbroadway.com, accessed 16 June 2014
  11. 1 2 "Jim Dale Credits and Awards" playbillvault.com, accessed 17 June 2014
  12. Scapino samuelfrench-london.co.uk, accessed 17 June 2014
  13. 1 2 Billington, Michael. "Young Vic at 40: the Young and the restless" The Guardian, 19 October 2010
  14. " The Card Synopsis and Production" guidetomusicaltheatre.com, accessed 17 June 2014
  15. Dunlop, Frank and Dale, Jim. "About the Authors. Jim Dale" Scapino!. Special BookDramatic Publishing, 1975, ISBN 0871293749, p. 119
  16. "Reviewing the situation" ebscohost.com, article from Variety, 4 September 1995, accessed 16 June 2014
  17. "Jim Dale Listing" Internet Broadway database, accessed 16 June 2014
  18. Hernandez, Ernio. "Broadway's 'Threepenny Opera' Revival Cast Now Complete" playbill.com, 6 February 2006
  19. Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review; When the Perfect Gesture Is Everything" The New York Times, 13 April 1995
  20. Stasio, Marilyn. "Jim Dale Taps a Bawdy Tradition for Inspiration" The New York Times, 20 August 1989
  21. Ehren, Christine. "Jim Dale to Star in New Group's 'Comedians' Jan. 3, Judith Ivey in 'Women of Lockerbie' " playbill.com, 1 November 2002
  22. "Jim Dale Listing Off-Broadway" Internet Off-Broadway Database, accessed 16 June 2014
  23. Jones, Kenneth. "Jim Dale Stars In Cleveland Play House's Illusion-Filled 'Invisible Man', Dec. 4-Jan. 9" playbill.com, 3 December 1998
  24. Hernandez, Ernio. "Ghosts Lead Scrooge in 'A Christmas Carol' for Final MSG Staging, Nov. 28-Dec. 27" playbill.com, 28 November 2003
  25. Gans, Andrew. "Jim Dale and Glenn Close Reunite for Busker Alley Benefit Nov. 13" playbill.com, 13 November 2006
  26. Hetrick, Adam. "From 'Barnum' to 'Harry Potter,' 'Just Jim Dale 'Arrives Off-Broadway May 15" playbill.com, 15 May 2014
  27. 1 2 "Filmography" The New York Times, accessed June 16, 2014
  28. " Thank Your Lucky Stars" televisionheaven.co.uk, accessed 17 June 2014
  29. " Sunday Night At The London Palladium " televisionheaven.co.uk, accessed 17 June 2014
  30. " Cinderella Overview and Cast" tcm.com, accessed 17 June 2014
  31. " Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Cast and Overview" tcm.com, accessed 17 June 2014
  32. 1 2 " Pushing Daisies Overview" allmovie.com, accessed 17 June 2014
  33. Rich, Motoko. "The Voice of Harry Potter Can Keep a Secret" The New York Times, 17 July 2007
  34. "Best Spoken Word Album" awardsandshows.com, accessed 17 June 2014
  35. Benjamin Franklin Award Winners & Finalists 2001, Independent Book Publishers Association (accessed 1 August 2009)
  36. Macmillan Publishers. "Jim Dale". Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  37. "Not A Blog - Roy Sets a Record". livejournal.com.
  38. "Review. Peter And The Starcatchers" publishersweekly.com, 09/13/2004
  39. "An Interview with Jim Dale" ign.com, 16 June 2003
  40. "Audies, Winners and Finalists, 2001-2014" audiopub.org, accessed 16 June 2014
  41. Dale inducted into American Theatre Hall of Fame, Playbill.com; accessed 26 February 2014.
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