Leslie Phillips, 'Carry On' star and voice of Sorting Hat in 'Harry Potter', dies aged 98

The British actor died 'peacefully at home', according to his agent

Leslie Phillips was awarded the CBE by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, London, in May 2008. AP
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Leslie Phillips, the British actor best known for his roles in the Carry On comedies and as the voice of the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter movies, has died aged 98.

His agent Jonathan Lloyd confirmed that Phillips died “peacefully at home” on Monday.

The veteran actor made his first film appearances in the 1930s. He is remembered for his exaggerated comic portrayal of the English upper class after starring in Carry On Nurse, Carry On Teacher and Carry On Constable in 1959 and 1960.

Leslie Philips with then Prince Charles at the Royal Shakespeare Company's gala fundraising dinner in 2006. AP

Phillips later moved into more dramatic roles, including a turn opposite Peter O’Toole in the film Venus, which was released in 2007 and earned him a Bafta nomination for best supporting actor. He also voiced the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter franchise.

Phillips was born in Tottenham, north London, in April 1924.

He attended Chingford School and later the Italia Conti Stage School.

He served as a lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry from 1942 until 1945, when he left due to injury.

Phillips said of his experiences: "The beginning of my trouble was continuous bombardment and the bangs. It was nerve-wracking with aeroplanes flying over and shooting them down.

"I used to get a sort of paralysis on the left side of the body. I suppose it was a form of shell-shock. I never really recovered."

In 1945, he went to a hospital in north London with "people who had every known kind of problem — it was a great mess of people who were suffering".

He went on: "To be honest, I never thought I'd survive the war. I always thought: 'Any minute now I'll be bloody killed', so I was quite surprised to be alive."

He was soon back in the limelight and began securing leading roles on the stage and screen from the early 1950s.

But Phillips began making serious inroads into film from 1955 and his charm was seen to good effect in Brothers In Law, The Smallest Show On Earth and The Man Who Liked Funerals.

He suffered a stroke in 2014 while shopping in London, but made a strong recovery.

Phillips was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2008 in recognition of his acting career.

Updated: November 08, 2022, 3:12 PM
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