1919 - 2005
David Kossoff became a familiar and well-loved figure on television throughout the 1950s and 1960s thanks to playing the hen-pecked husband of Peggy Mount in the hugely successful sitcom 'The Larkins'.
Born on November 24th, 1919 to Russian parents in the East End of London, David Kossoff made his first stage appearance in 1942. In 1945 he joined the BBC Repertory Company, where he remained for six years, appearing in hundreds of radio plays. Often taking on roles older than his true age, Kossoff made many memorable film appearances, one of which won him a BAFTA for 'A Kid For Two Farthings' and had great success on stage creating the Jewish tailor in Wolf Mankowitz's 'The Bespoke Overcoat' as well as his own one-man show, 'With One Eyebrow Slightly Up' which he also took to Broadway.
In 1956 he appeared in the very first 'Armchair Theatre' production; 'The Outsider'. But it was as put-upon husband Alf Larkin that David Kossoff won the affections of the British television-viewing public before moving on to another successful sitcom, 'A Little Big Business' in the 1960s. His warm and sincere voice meant that he became a huge hit in the 1960s reading bible stories on BBC radio, a success that spawned a Sunday evening TV series and a host of bestselling books. When one critic rounded on him for playing Alf Larkin, Kossoff quickly replied: "Alf earns 10 times as much as Kossoff, mate. He helps Kossoff to choose the parts he wants in straight plays and to say 'No' to the others. I like Alf ... A lot of hard work went into creating him. He's probably the best thing I've ever done."
In 1976 tragedy struck when his younger son, Paul, lead guitarist with the rock group Free, died of drug-induced heart failure at the age of 25. Kossoff went on to campaign passionately against the danger of drug taking and performed a critically acclaimed one-man show, 'The Late Great Paul', at the Queen Elizabeth Hall before taking it on a tour of schools and universities.
He wrote a prayer book entitled "You've Got A Moment, Lord?" and in the 1980s he published "Stories From A Small Town", based on folk stories of 19th-century Jewish Russia. He also did several TV commercials, pointing out that Bible stories didn't pay very well, but commercials did - and that, anyway, "it just occurred to me that God might have guided my hand to J Walter Thompson."
David Kossoff passed away on March 23rd 2005, aged 85.
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