Jim Dale

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Jim Dale
Dale with his Barnum co-star Glenn Close performing Busker Alley, 2006
Born James Smith
(1935-08-15) 15 August 1935 (age 82)
Rothwell, Northamptonshire, England, UK
Occupation Actor, lyricist, singer, comedian, voice actor
Years active 1951–present
Website Official site

James "Jim" Dale, MBE (born 15 August 1935), is an English actor, voice artist, and singer-songwriter. He is best known in the United Kingdom for his many appearances in the Carry On series of films and in the US for narrating the Harry Potter audiobook series, for which he received two Grammy Awards, and the ABC series Pushing Daisies, as well as starring in Pete's Dragon. In the 1970s, Dale was a member of the National Theatre Company.[1]

Early life

Dale was born James Smith to William Henry and Miriam Jean (née Wells) Smith in Rothwell, Northamptonshire.[2] He was educated at the Kettering Grammar School. He trained as a dancer for six years before his debut as a stage comic in 1951, at the age of seventeen and a half.[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", which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1966.[4] 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 Shalako, Joseph Andrews, Twinky (Lola in the United States) and A Winter's Tale.

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 a tiny role as a trombone player[7] who thwarts orchestral conductor Kenneth Williams in the comedy Raising the Wind (1962). 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. He was also offered roles in the Carry On films Carry On Camping (1969), Carry On Up The Khyber (1968) and Carry On Up The Jungle (1970) but turned them down. He played Dr. Terminus in Walt Disney's Pete's Dragon (1977).[8] 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",[9] also winning the second of four Drama Desk Awards.[10]

In 1970 Sir Laurence Olivier[9] 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,[11][12] and played Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew.[12]

His other UK credits include The Card (1973),[13] 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.[14] He took over the part of Fagin in Cameron Mackintosh’s Oliver! at the London Palladium in September 1995.[15]

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).[16] In 2006, Dale performed on Broadway (at Studio 54) in the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of The Threepenny Opera, as Mr. Peachum.[17] 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)[18] (Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Award, Outer Critics Award), Privates On Parade (1989),[19] Comedians (2003)[20] (Drama Desk Award nomination and a Lucille Lortel Award nomination) and Address Unknown (2004).[21]

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).[22] He played the part of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol: The Musical at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City, from November 28, 2003 to December 27.[3][23]

Dale starred as "Charlie Baxter" in a one-night only concert version of the musical, Busker Alley alongside Glenn Close on November 13, 2006. This was a benefit for the York Theatre Company, and was held at Hunter College in New York City.[24] He appears in a one-man show, Just Jim Dale, looking back over nearly sixty years in show business. The show opened on May 15, 2014 at the Roundabout Theatre Company Laura Pels Theatre.[25]


Source: The New York Times[26]

Dale opened every episode of the ABC drama Pushing Daisies (2009) as the unseen narrator.[9][32]

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,[33] and as a narrator he has won two Grammy Awards in 2008 and 2001, several Grammy nominations[34] 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[9] (one of these was in 2001 for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)[35] 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.[36] He previously held one for creating and recording 134 different character voices for one audiobook, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but has since been supplanted by Roy Dotrice, who read 224 voices for A Game of Thrones.[37] Dale opened every episode of the ABC drama Pushing Daisies as the unseen narrator.[9][32]

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

He narrated Peter and the Starcatchers (2004) audio book,[38] 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.[39]


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.[citation needed]

Naturalized United States citizen

American gossip columnist Cindy Adams reported in the February 26, 2014 edition of The New York Post that Dale told her:

"Listen, I live here 34 years, been a US citizen 5 years, but age 9 I started in small-town British music halls touring 52 weeks a year. I've done shows all my life."[40]

Selected filmography

Source: The New York Times[26]

Awards and nominations

Sources: allmusic.com;[3] Playbillvault;[10] Audio Publisher[41]

  • 1966 International Laurel Award - Best Song - Georgy Girl
  • 1974 Drama Desk Award - Outstanding Performance - Scapino
  • 1974 Outer Critics Circle Award - Outstanding Actor - Scapino
  • 1980 Drama Desk Award - Outstanding Actor in a Musical - Barnum
  • 1980 Tony Award - Best Actor in a Musical - Barnum
  • 1984 Outer Critics Circle Award - Outstanding Actor - Joe Egg
  • 1995 Drama Desk Award - Unique Theatrical Ensemble Experience - Travels With My Aunt
  • 1995 Outer Critics Circle Award - Outstanding Actor - Travels With My Aunt
  • 2001 Grammy Award - Best Spoken Word Album for Children - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • 2001 Audie Award - Narrator of the Year - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • 2004 Audie Award - Audiobook of the year - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • 2004 Audie Award - Children's Male Narrator of the Year - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • 2005 Audie Award - Classic Narrator - A Christmas Carol
  • 2005 Audie Award - Male Narrator of the Year - Peter and the Star Catchers
  • 2005 Audie Award - Children's Narrator - Peter and the Starcatchers
  • 2006 Thespian Award - Friars Club, New York.
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award - Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical - The Threepenny Opera
  • 2006 Outer Critics Circle Award - Outstanding Actor - The Threepenny Opera
  • 2006 The Richard Seff Award - The Threepenny Opera
  • 2006 The Order of St. George's Society, New York
  • 2007 Audie Award - Male Narrator of the Year - Peter and the Shadow Thieves
  • 2008 Audie Award - Solo Narrator - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • 2008 Grammy Award - Best Spoken Word Album for Children - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • 2009 Audie Award - Children's male Narrator of the Year - James Herriot's Treasury For Children
  • Twenty-three Audiofile Headphone Awards
  • 2009 - Inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.[42]
  • 1967 Academy Award - Best Music, Original Song - Georgy Girl (shared with Tom Springfield for the song "Georgy Girl")
  • 1967 Golden Globe Award - Best Music, Original Song - Georgy Girl (shared with Tom Springfield for the song "Georgy Girl")
  • 1974 BAFTA Academy Award - Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles - Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall
  • 1975 Tony Award - Best Actor in Play - Scapino
  • 1985 Drama Desk Award - Outstanding Actor in a Play - Joe Egg
  • 1985 Tony Award - Best Actor in Play - Joe Egg
  • 1997 Drama Desk Award - Outstanding Actor in a Musical - Candide
  • 1997 Tony Award - Best Actor in a Musical - Candide
  • 2003 Drama Desk Award - Outstanding Actor in a Play - Comedians
  • 2006 Tony Award - Best Featured Actor in a Musical - The Threepenny Opera


  1. Olivier at Work, ed. Lyn Haill, (1989), p 103
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Jim Dale Biography" filmreference.com, accessed June 18, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 "Jim Dale Biography" allmusic.com, accessed June 16, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "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. " Raising the Wind Cast" tcm.com, accessed june 17, 2014
  8. " Pete's Dragon Cast" tcm.com, accessed June 17, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 "Jim Dale" masterworksbroadway.com, accessed June 16, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Jim Dale Credits and Awards" playbillvault.com, accessed June 17, 2014
  11. Scapino samuelfrench-london.co.uk, accessed June 17, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 Billington, Michael. "Young Vic at 40: the Young and the restless" The Guardian, 19 October 2010
  13. " The Card Synopsis and Production" guidetomusicaltheatre.com, accessed June 17, 2014
  14. Dunlop, Frank and Dale, Jim. "About the Authors. Jim Dale" Scapino!. Special BookDramatic Publishing, 1975, ISBN 0871293749, p. 119
  15. "Reviewing the situation" ebscohost.com, article from Variety, September 4, 1995, accessed June 16, 2014
  16. "Jim Dale Listing" Internet Broadway database, accessed June 16, 2014
  17. Hernandez, Ernio. "Broadway's 'Threepenny Opera' Revival Cast Now Complete" playbill.com, February 6, 2006
  18. Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review; When the Perfect Gesture Is Everything" The New York Times, April 13, 1995
  19. Stasio, Marilyn. "Jim Dale Taps a Bawdy Tradition for Inspiration" The New York Times, August 20, 1989
  20. Ehren, Christine. "Jim Dale to Star in New Group's 'Comedians' Jan. 3, Judith Ivey in 'Women of Lockerbie' " playbill.com, November 1, 2002
  21. "Jim Dale Listing Off-Broadway" Internet Off-Broadway Database, accessed June 16, 2014
  22. Jones, Kenneth. "Jim Dale Stars In Cleveland Play House's Illusion-Filled 'Invisible Man', Dec. 4-Jan. 9" playbill.com, December 3, 1998
  23. Hernandez, Ernio. "Ghosts Lead Scrooge in 'A Christmas Carol' for Final MSG Staging, Nov. 28-Dec. 27" playbill.com, November 28, 2003
  24. Gans, Andrew. "Jim Dale and Glenn Close Reunite for Busker Alley Benefit Nov. 13" playbill.com, November 13, 2006
  25. Hetrick, Adam. "From 'Barnum' to 'Harry Potter,' 'Just Jim Dale 'Arrives Off-Broadway May 15" playbill.com, May 15, 2014
  26. 26.0 26.1 Filmography" The New York Times, accessed June 16, 2014
  27. " Thank Your Lucky Stars" televisionheaven.co.uk, accessed June 17, 2014
  28. [1]
  29. " Sunday Night At The London Palladium " televisionheaven.co.uk, accessed June 17, 2014
  30. " Cinderella Overview and Cast" tcm.com, accessed June 17, 2014
  31. " Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Cast and Overview" tcm.com, accessed June 17, 2014
  32. 32.0 32.1 " Pushing Daisies Overview" allmovie.com, accessed June 17, 2014
  33. Rich, Motoko. The Voice of Harry Potter Can Keep a Secret" The New York Times, July 17, 2007
  34. "Best Spoken Word Album" awardsandshows.com, accessed June 17, 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, June 16, 2003
  40. "'Just Jim Dale' is just that", New York Post, February 26, 2014, pg. 14.
  41. "Audies, Winners and Finalists, 2001-2014" audiopub.org, accessed June 16, 2014
  42. Dale inducted into American Theatre Hall of Fame, Playbill.com; accessed 26 February 2014.

External links