Monday, August 13, 2001

Christopher Hewett Anecdotes

Here's an interesting anecdote from Mark Evanier, TV and Comic Book scribe. To you comic book fans, he worked on the terribly funny GROO with Sergio Aragones.

"When Hewett came into the room, I couldn't resist: In my best Gene Wilder simulation, I muttered, "Max, he's wearing a dress." There was a pause as everyone else in the room looked at me like I was more insane than usual. None of them got the reference. None of them recalled that Christopher Hewett played the effeminate director, Roger DeBris, in Mel Brooks's classic movie, The Producers."

Read More about what happened here:

From the AP report from the Dallas Morning News:

Christopher Hewett, TV's 'Mr. Belvedere,' dies at 80

Associated Press

Christopher Hewett

LOS ANGELES – Christopher Hewett, the British-born stage actor perhaps best remembered as television's endearing English butler, "Mr. Belvedere," died Friday. He was 80.

Hewett, whose career began at age 7 on a stage in Ireland, had been in declining health for some time, said his nephew, Paul Hewett. He died at home a day after being released from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

"His biggest goal was to get back home, and he made it," his nephew said. "We got him back home yesterday and he died today."

Although the stage was his first love, Hewett likely gained his greatest fame playing the endearing title role on television's "Mr. Belvedere" from 1985 to 1990.

As Lynn Belvedere, he was a one-time butler for England's royal family who moved to the United States and wound up working for a dysfunctional family, some of whose members never did learn to pronounce his name properly. He made his way through the job with wisecracks and sarcasm.

He wasn't as gracious with people who often misspelled his name, substituting an "i" for the second "e," his nephew recalled.

"Oh he hated that," he said with a laugh.

Hewett, whose career spanned more than 60 years, made his acting on the Dublin, Ireland stage at age 7, in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

"I played the Indian prince, a very easy part. No lines, but lots of lovely costumes," he recalled years later.

Born April 5, 1921, in Worthing, England, Hewett joined the British Royal Air Force at 16. Upon leaving the service, he joined the Oxford Repertory Company where he recalled appearing in more than 100 plays, including some punctuated by the sounds of bombs exploding during World War II.

"I was back in theater just in time for the Blitz," Hewett said of the German air raids that rained bombs on London during the war.

"Shows were often interrupted by the bombing, but I don't remember that we ever stopped, even during a heavy blitz," he recalled. "We would pause for a minute during the air raid alarm so that anyone who wanted to leave could do so."

He also appeared in several movies, including "Pool of London" and "The Lavender Hill Mob," both in 1951, as well as the Mel Brooks film "The Producers," in 1968.

His first foray into television came in the 1976 series "Ivan the Terrible." That was followed by a short stint on television's "Fantasy Island" in the late 1970s.

His Broadway debut came in 1956 in the original production of "My Fair Lady."

"It's been a very good life for me," Hewett once said. "I don't know what another life would have been like, so it's hard to tell. As an actor, I've been round the world doing it, and I've paid my way."

He is survived by a sister-in-law and a number of nieces and nephews. A memorial service is scheduled Aug. 10 at St. Victor's Church in West Hollywood.


I had been wondering how Christopher Hewett's memorial went. It's a good thing this fella named Ryan posted this report from the guestbook. I'm reprinting it here for those who haven't seen it yet. I wish I could have been there.

Who Are You? Ryan
Date Fri Aug 10, 2001 1131 pm

I fortunately live about 45 minutes from Hollywood, so I decided to attend Mr. Hewett's memorial this afternoon. It was nice to be able to say goodbye to "Mr. Belvedere" properly. Rob Stone was very gracious when I offered my sympathies and we had a pleasant talk for a minute or so. He telling me that Chris was like the grandfather of the set, what you saw on the screen was him in real life. Brice was either shy or busy, as he didn't really stop but for a few seconds to let me say sorry about Mr. B. I couldn't help but stargaze a bit, as Jeffrey Jones (the principal from "Ferris Bueller's...") was there, oddly enough, with Edie McClurg, who played his goofy secretary in that movie. Other notables were Doris Roberts ("Everybody Loves Raymond", played the judge in the deportation episode) and a slew of journeyman actors. The pastor had some interesting comments that Mr. Hewett was suffering from diabetes, cancer, had recently had a stroke, and had to have one of his legs partially amputated. But on the sunnier side, he was a fixture at St. Victor's in Hollywood, always doing a reading or singing, and surprisingly was a Eucharistic minister. There was also a great board decked out with pictures of Mr. Hewett from over the years, a great sight that really showed you how full a career, and life, he had. All in all, some good closure for a fan like myself, who's been following this guy since I was 9. So, goodbye Mr. Hewett, and goodbye Mr. Belvedere, we'll never forget you.

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