“Victor was a fine man, a great pal and a fantastic actor and someone I am proud to have known for many years,” McCartney wrote of Spinetti on his website. “His irreverent wit and exuberant personality will remain in my memory forever. I will miss his loyal friendship as will all the others who were lucky enough to know and love the wonderful Mr Spinetti.”
Born in Wales on September 2, 1929, Vittorio Georgio Andrea Spinetti was an established film, TV and stage actor when he met the Beatles in 1963. As the New York Times obituary of Spinetti recounts, he had just completed a hit British film, The Wild Affair, when he met George Harrison and John Lennon backstage while performing in a London musical.
“Victor, you’ve got to be in our film. You’ve got to be in all our films,” Harrison reportedly told him upon meeting. When asked why, George replied: “Because if you’re not in them, me mum won’t come and see them; she fancies you.”
Spinetti went on to appear as the television director in 1964’s A Hard Day’s Night, as the mad surgeon-scientist Dr. Foot in Help! (1965) and the fast-talking Army drill instructor in 1967’s Magical Mystery Tour.
When the actor once inquired of George why he had been cast in all three films, Harrison simply said: “You’ve got a lovely karma, Vic.”
Victor Spinetti was 82. The cause of death was cancer, his rep confirmed.
– Michael Verity, CBS Local