Regular cinemagoers in the 1950’s and 60’s would have found it difficult to go longer than a couple of weeks without seeing the face of character actor Harold Goodwin on the screen. Often depicting a low-ranking serviceman he was in The Dambusters, Bridge on the River Kwai, Angels One Five, The Cruel Sea, Sink the Bismarck, and The Longest Day. A great foil to the comic stars of the period he popped up in The Ladykillers, The Man in the White Suit, The Square Peg, The Bulldog Breed, The Fast Lady and many more. And the emerging horror genre also found use for his talents in The Mummy, The Curse of The Mummy’s Tomb, Die Monster Die, and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed.
His love of acting was sparked when in 1934 he saw Wendy Hiller in Love On The Dole and by 1937 he was presenting himself at RADA for an audition. His choice of a piece from Macbeth, inevitably delivered with a strong Barnsley accent, was a risky one and resulted in a kindly Sybil Thorndike taking him to one side and suggesting that his “voice was probably not quite right for Shakespeare”. Nonetheless he was accepted and thus embarked upon a career that was to last for 60 years.
Although he appeared in an uncredited role in an Alfred Hitchcock film (Young and Innocent) in 1937 the war inevitably put his career on hold. The end of the war saw him arrive in Liverpool, where he was to spend three years learning his trade as a member of the renowned Liverpool repertory Company. His time at the Liverpool Playhouse corresponded with the directorship of John Fernald who had the daunting task of re-establishing the company. During his time with the company he and his wife Beatrice lived in a flat at 20 Canning Street L8.
He left Liverpool to establish himself in the West End, commencing with a season at the New Theatre in Laurence Olivier’s Old Vic Company. Besides his appearance in over 100 films, his roles on television also ran into hundreds. He appeared in Coronation Street in three different roles; Charlie Pimlott (1963), Norman Pearson (1971) and in his last major TV role as Joss Shackleton (1991) , Vera Duckworth’s father. His final screen appearance was in the role of a window cleaner in One Foot in the Grave in 1992.
Harold Goodwin had met his wife, Beatrice Myers, when they were both 14 and worked as packers in the McVitie’s cracker factory in Stockport. They married in 1939.
The house in which Harold and Beatrice Goodwin had a flat while he was with the Liverpool Repertory Company.
© Liverpool Footprints