Reluctant city star Joe Melia dies, 77
Saturday, November 03, 2012
By Laura Elvin
A charismatic actor who performed alongside some of the biggest names in showbiz has died.
Joe Melia, who grew up in St Matthew's, Leicester, had a glittering theatre, television and film career, starring alongside the likes of Sid James, Morecambe and Wise and Kenneth Williams.
The former City of Leicester Boys pupil died on October 20, after suffering heart problems.
His sister, Trish Kenyon, from Burbage, said: "He was a great man who was great company and that's how he will be remembered.
"He had a great life, and was able to do so many things, and that is of great comfort.
"He was 12 years older than me, so I always looked up to him with great respect.
"He would take me to things when I was young and it was brilliant. I went for drinks with Peter O'Toole and the likes. I would always go and spend my school holidays with him and my friends would always love to hear my stories when I got home."
The son of Italian parents, Joe was born in Islington, but his family moved to Leicester during the war.
They lived off Humberstone Road and, after his national service with the Intelligence Corps, Joe got a place at Cambridge University, studying language.
Part of the esteemed Cambridge Footlights Review he was spotted by a talent scout and offered a part in the 1959 comedy film Too Many Crooks, alongside Sid James and George Cole.
He compered BBC2's Full House and appeared in dozens of films including The Intelligence Man, Oh! What a Lovely War and Privates on Parade.
"I have collected DVDs of his films over the years, and am so glad I still have those.
"He will be missed a lot. My grandchildren adored him as he could get down to their level and be like a kid himself," said Trish.
In an interview with the Mercury in March, 1973, Joe explained his distaste for celebrity culture and the "barriers that separate the general public from the performers".
Joe said: "I'm only doing my job. I'd like to see a situation where celebrities get no more credit for doing their job than a chef would for cooking a fine meal."
When our reporter asked him why he agreed to the interview, if he did not like preferential treatment, he answered: "Oh, simply because you wanted to talk to me and I wished to discuss important things.
"But it would greatly disappoint me if people reading this article attached the slightest significance to my opinions, simply because I appear on television."
He lived in Primrose Hill, London, before moving to Stratford-upon Avon, and guest-starred in television programmes including Birds of a Feather and Last of the Summer Wine.
He spent his later life enjoying reading, opera, theatre and travelling in Europe.
Joe's wife Flora passed away in 2008, and he leaves behind his sons Jonathon and Joseph.
Joe's funeral is due to take place on November 20, in Leamington Spa.
Born: 1935, Islington, London, England, U.K.
Died: 10/20/2012 Stratford on Avon, Warwikshire, England, U.K.
Joe Melia’s western – actor:
A Talent for Loving – 1969 (Tortillaw)