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British Actor Warren Mitchell dies at 89

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British actor Warren Mitchell, best known for Till Death Us Do Part, has died, aged 89.

A statement from his family said he died in the early hours of Saturday “surrounded by his family”.

“He has been in poor health for some time, but was cracking jokes to the last,” the family added.

Mitchell began playing the character Alf Garnett at the age of 40, from 1966 until the programme ended in 1975, with more than 50 episodes. He got the role after Peter Sellers, Leo McKern and Lionel Jeffries had turned it down.

The show highlighted the pressures felt by the white working class at a time of great social change in Britain. It broke a number of taboos, with a high level of swearing and insulting references to racial minorities, and was condemned by UK morals campaigner Mary Whitehouse. It also inspired the the US counterpart All in the Family.

He returned as Alf Garnett in the series In Sickness and in Health which ran from 1985 until 1992.

Mitchell got his TV break in 1955 in a number of episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour, followed by roles in shows such as The Avengers, Danger Man, The Saint and Drake’s Progress, which ran in 1957.

“I enjoy being Jewish, but I’m an atheist. I hate fundamentalism in all its forms. Jews, Catholics, Baptists – I think they are all potty and capable of destroying the world,” he once said.

Mitchell also spent a great deal of his time in Australia where Till Death Us Do Part had made him a household name, and took up dual UK-Australian citizenship in 1988.

He appeared in Australian productions The Dunera Boys,Waterfront, Acropolis Now, Jackaroo, The Shark Net, The Ernie Sigley Show, Kokoda Crescent, and Crackers.

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