Graham William Stark was an English comedian, actor, writer and director probably best known as a comic foil on the TV shows "Tickle on the Tum," "Roland Rat: The Series," "Adventures Beyond Belief" and the short-lived Benny Hill.
Born January 20, 1922 in New Brighton, England, he was the son of a purser for the transatlantic liners. He attended Wallasey Grammar School and made his professional stage debut at the age of 13 in pantomime at the Lyceum Theatre in London. During the World War Two, he served in Company 334 of the BEF in Selonika,Greece where he was a turner in group workshops. Over time, he met Dick Emery, Tony Hancock and Peter Sellers, the latter two as fellow members of Ralph Reader's Gang Shows. Stark and Sellers later became close friends. After the war, he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, joining the regulars at Grafton's, a pub in Victoria run by Jimmy Grafton, a venue at which featured several of Britain's top talents.
After the war, Hancock helped Stark get work on BBC Radio, making his debut in "Happy Go Lucky" and "Ray's A Laugh." He was a regular in "Educating Archie" and often substituted for Spike Milligan on "The Goon Show." He was also a regular supporting player on TV with Peter Sellers in "A Show Called Fred" and "Son of Fred" and with Benny Hill in his eponymous sit-com. By time his work with Benny ended, Graham's profile was sufficient for him to gain his own, albeit short-lived, sketch series, "The Graham Stark Show," each episode featured a different group of supporting actors, including Deryck Guyler, Arthur Mullard, Derek Nimmo, Patricia Hayes and Warren Mitchell, but sadly, none of the videotapes have survived.
Stark was reunited with Sellers when he became a regular performer in the Pink Panther film series, first as Hercule Lajoy, Inspector Clouseau's stonefaced assistant, in "A Shot in the Dark" in 1964. Other than Herbert Lom and Burt Kwouk, he appeared in more Pink Panther films than any other actor, playing a variety of characters, including reprising Lajoy in "Trail of the Pink Panther" in 1982 and twice playing Dr Auguste Balls in "Revenge of the Pink Panther" In 1978 and "Son of the Pink Panther" in 1993.
Stark also appeared in the movies "Alfie," "According To Dora," "Start the Revolution Without Me," " The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins," "Hide And Seek," "Not Now Darling" and" Naughty Wives." He also played the role of Lord Fortnum's doctor, Captain Pontius Kak, in the original stage play of 'The Bed-Sitting Room," which opened at the Mermaid Theatre on January 31, 1963. Following the death of James Beck, Stark took over the role of Private Joe Walker in the radio adaptation of "Dad's Army." He also appeared in a cameo as a butler in the music video for Adam Ant's "Goody Two Shoes."
Stark was also an accomplished stills photographer. He was the last known performer to appear on "The Goon Show" during its original run. In 2003, he published an autobiography, "Stark Naked." He passed away from complications of a stroke at the age of 91 in London on October 29, 2013.