A.K.A. Keeping an eye on the Misinformation Corporation
Taken from The JC: http://www.thejc.com
‘PETER WYNGARDE, the actor best known for his role as 1960s TV sleuth Jason King, has died at around the age of 90.
The reason for the uncertainty over his age is due to the mysterious circumstances surrounding Mr Wyngarde’s origins. Everything about his birth – including the date, the year, the place, and even his parentage – have all been disputed’.
The only reason for this confusion is Wikipedia muddying the waters with disinformation!
In the wake of PETER’s passing, many of the more lazy journalist tended to rely entirely on Wikipedia when writing their ‘Obituaries’ rather than to carry out their own research, thereby perpetrating the already misleading content. Thankfully, the more respectable elements such as The Times and The Telegraph chose to come to us as an official source.
Over the time this Blog has been online, I’ve received a huge amount of mail regarding the article/biography about PETER on Wikipedia, which I’ve already tackled to some extent on this ‘site. However, I’ve been asked by many fans to identify the erroneous content in this particular piece of writing, and to show what or why parts of it are inaccurate or, at the very least, flawed.
In the wake of PETER’s passing, many of the more lazy journalist tended to rely on Wikipedia when writing their ‘Obituaries’, thereby perpetrating the already misleading content. Thankfully, the more respectable elements such as The Times and The Telegraph chose to come to us as an official source.
What follows is the Wikipedia ‘biography’ in its entirety (as it stood before they added content found on this website), with those specious sections highlighted and corrected.
(As of 12.02.18. – it’s stated in the main body of the aforementioned article that PETER passed on 18th January, 2018. This is incorrect. The date should read 15th January, 2018).
Birth and family background
Peter Wyngarde’s date and place of birth, his birth name, and his parent’s nationalities and occupations are all disputed. His biography at IMDb which is not supported by any primary sources but often used in other accounts of his life, states he was born Peter Paul Wyngarde on 23 August 1933 at an aunt’s home in Marseilles, France. It says his British father worked for the British Diplomatic Service resulting in the family living in various countries, including British Malaya and China. He is claimed to be the nephew of French actor-director Louis Jouvet. Primary sources indicate a likely different birth name, year of birth and family background. There is strong evidence Wyngarde was born as Cyril Goldbert, possibly in Singapore, which is the place of birth Wyngarde gave on a 1960 immigration application, although a 1956 Straits Times article about his mother does give Marseille as his birthplace.
Author J. G. Ballard wrote in his memoir (and stated in interviews and private letters that he and his family knew Wyngarde as Cyril Goldbert in Shanghai during World War II.
Regarding Wyngarde’s year of birth there is considerable variation. Different sources quote or suggest dates between 1924 and 1933. In a 1993 interview Wyngarde claimed not to know his own age.
The given names of Cyril Goldbert’s parents and siblings match those of Peter Wyngarde. His father was Henry Peter “Harry” Goldbert, born in present-day Ukraine and raised in Singapore where his mother ran the Singapore public house, and where he became a naturalised British subject in 1919 He does not appear to have been a diplomat: travel records from the mid-1940s show that he was working as Second Chief Engineer in the British Merchant Navy. Cyril Goldbert’s mother was Marcheritta (Madge) Goldbert, nee Ahin, later Macauley, who was a Swiss national. She was interviewed in the Straits Times in 1956 about her son Peter Wyngarde’s career, by which time she had remarried. Wyngarde claimed in a 1993 interview that his mother was a racing driver.
The full names of the two younger Goldbert children match those of Peter Wyngarde’s purportedly elder siblings: Adolphe (later Henry) Peter “Joe” Goldbert (1930–2011) and Marion Colette Simone Goldbert, later Wells (1932–2012).
Regarding Louis Jouvet being Wyngarde’s uncle, Jouvet’s biography confirms he had two brothers, neither of whom appear to be related to Cyril Goldbert’s parents by blood or marriage.
Wyngarde told an interviewer that his parents divorced when he was very young, and that his father took him to China “only months before war with China broke out” in the summer of 1937.
In the early 1940s, Cyril Goldbert was living in Shanghai when the Japanese Army took over Shanghai’s International Settlement on 8 December 1941, and as a British citizen he was interned in the Lunghua civilian internment camp on 10 April 1943. Peter Wyngarde has spoken about his time in Lunghua, and it is included in his official biography.
After internment, Cyril Goldbert sailed from Shanghai to Southampton in December 1945 on the Cunard White Star Line vessel the Arawa, listed as an 18-year-old passenger. J.G. Ballard was also on board. After arriving in the UK, Cyril Goldbert disappears from public records under that name.
In a Q&A on a fan blog in April 2017, Wyngarde said that he studied in the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford for three months, before leaving to work in a London advertising agency.
Acting career: 1940s to 1970s
In 1946, Peter Wyngarde took his first professional roles in theatre productions. An early success was in the part of Morris Albert in a production of Noël Coward’s Present Laughter which opened on 7 August 1947 at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham.
Later accounts say that he was around 13 years old when he took these early roles, but Peter Wyngarde is listed as a registered voter aged 21+ in 1948, so he was 18-20 years old in 1946 and 1947.
From the mid-1950s, Wyngarde had roles in feature films, television plays and television series guest appearances. One of these, a television adaptation of Julien Green’s novel South (1959, originally Sud), in which Wyngarde featured in a lead role, is thought to be the earliest television play with an overtly homosexual theme. He appeared as Pausanias opposite Richard Burton in the film Alexander the Great (1956), played a lead role in the film The Siege of Sidney Street (1960), and appeared as Sir Roger Casement in an episode in the Granada Television’s On Trial series produced by Peter Wildeblood. Wyngarde’s film work was not extensive, but gained attention.
In Jack Clayton’s The Innocents (1961), he had brief (unspeaking) scenes as the leering Peter Quint with Deborah Kerr and Pamela Franklin. He followed this appearance as the lead in the occult thriller Night of the Eagle (US: Burn Witch Burn, 1962). By the late 1960s, Wyngarde was guest starring in television series of the time, many of them were shown internationally, including The Avengers, The Saint, The Baron, The Champions and I Spy. He also appeared in The Prisoner (“Checkmate”, 1967) as the authority figure Number Two.
Wyngarde became a British household name through his starring role in the espionage series Department S (1969). His Jason King character often got the girl and as she is about to kiss him, he manages to avoid it, much to the annoyance of co-actor Joel Fabiani. After that series ended, his character, the suave womaniser Jason King, was spun off into a new action espionage series entitled Jason King (1971), which ran for one season (26 fifty-minute episodes). The series led Wyngarde to briefly became an international celebrity, being mobbed by female fans in Australia. A revival in October 1973 of The King and I, featuring Wyngarde in the male lead role, and initially with Sally Ann Howes as Anna, ran for 260 performances at the Adelphi Theatre in London.
Wyngarde appeared as the masked character Klytus in the film Flash Gordon (1980) and as Sir Robert Knight in the film Tank Malling (1989) with Ray Winstone. He appeared in The Two Ronnies 1984 Christmas Special as Sir Guy in “The Ballad of Snivelling and Grudge and A Film Story”. Other TV appearances include Doctor Who (Planet of Fire, 1984), Hammer House of Mystery & Suspense (1984) and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1994).
In 1983, he acted in the thriller Underground with Raymond Burr at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, and at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London. After leaving a 1995 stage production of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari mid-performance during previews, Wyngarde mostly stopped acting but he has done occasional voice work.
He appeared as a guest of Simon Dee in the Channel Four one-off revival of his chat show Dee Time in 2003. In 2007, he participated in recording extras for a box-set of The Prisoner, including a mock interview segment titled “The Pink Prisoner”.
In January 2014, he narrated an episode of the BBC 4 Timeshift documentary strand, How to Be Sherlock Holmes: The Many Faces of a Master Detective. In the 2015 documentary series for Channel Four, It was Alright in the 1960s, Wyngarde expressed his unease at having to don blackface to play a Turkish man in The Saint, but said that he had done it only in the hope that a theatre director might pick him to play Othello.
Latterly, Wyngarde’s public appearances are mainly restricted to Memorabilia and other nostalgic events commemorating television programmes.
In 1970, Wyngarde recorded an album for RCA Victor entitled simply Peter Wyngarde, featuring a single, “La Ronde De L’Amour”/”The Way I Cry Over You”. The album is a collection of spoken-word/musical arrangements produced by Vic Smith and Hubert Thomas Valverde. A promo single of the track “Rape” (entitled “Peter Wyngarde Commits Rape”) was also issued in 1970.
In 1998, the album was reissued on CD by RPM Records, now titled When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head. According to Wyngarde himself (quoted in the liner notes of the CD re-issue), prior to the RCA deal, EMI Records had also been interested in cashing in on his fame and suggested issuing an album of him performing a selection of Sinatra songs. However, RCA allowed him carte blanche, assuming that the record would be a failure and could be used by them as a tax loss. However, when the initial pressings quickly sold out and it showed a profit, they declined to press any more copies.
The album is now usually treated as a curiosity because of its unusual spoken-word style and the controversial subject matter of some of the tracks.
In the early 1950s, he was married to the actress Dorinda Stevens for 3 years.
Wyngarde shared a flat in Earls Terrace, Kensington, with the actor Alan Bates for some years in the 1960s.
In September 1975, Wyngarde was fined £75 (under his real name, Cyril Louis Goldbert) for gross indecency.
Wyngarde battled alcoholism at the height of his career, telling an interviewer in 1993 “I drank myself to a standstill … I am amazed I am still here”, but that he stopped drinking in the early 1980s.
N.B. Terms used below:
‘Author’ = The individual who wrote the ‘biography’ currently on Wikipedia.
‘Biography’ = The ‘biography’ on Wikipedia
- On viewing the ‘biography’, you’ll find this box (right) which, as you can see, contains the following details:
‘Occupation: Film TV actor’, and
Firstly, I find it extraordinary that, given the fact PETER has had a far more prolific stage career than he has in film, his theatre work is not acknowledged at all in this section. Perhaps that’s why the Author also chose to ignore his role as a theatre producer and director.
In regard to the ‘Active’ part: it’s clear that the Author doesn’t take into consideration PETER’s radio plays either, which is probably why he claims that Mr WYNGARDE has not worked since 1994 .
- In the main body of the ‘biography’, however, mention is made of the biography on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). That particular profile was written by myself – the “primary source” being PETER. I hope that clears up this particular mystery.
- In respect of the question concerning PETER’s uncle, Louis Jouvet. Both PETER and his mother have confirmed the family connection in various interviews.
“I went to see my uncle – the French actor, Louis Jouvet, up in Scotland where he was appearing on stage, but he wasn’t very receptive. All I wanted was some advice, but I feel he thought I was looking for favours. I never saw him again”. PETER WYNGARDE.
⇐ A shield of the Juvet Family that hung on the wall of PETER’s home for almost 60 years.
His Mother was a Juvet, hence the connection to the French actor, Louis Jouvet (variant spelling) – PETER’s Uncle.
The ‘biography’ claims that PETER had the same father as Marion Simone, and Adolph Henry (Goldbert). HE DID NOT. Mr WYNGARDE’s mother was married several times. PETER actually has TWO step-brothers and one step-sister.
After leaving the Diplomatic Service, PETER’s biological father started an import-export business dealing in antique timepieces. He lived in Eton Square, London.
There’s no better example of the symbiotic reliance of the press and Wikipedia on each other than the misreporting of PETER’s age (and place of birth) following his passing.
As you can see from his passport, the ‘papers were mistaken in stating that PETER was born in 1927, which would’ve made him 90-years of age. Nevertheless, the author of the Wikipedia biography immediately reproduced this inaccuracy. It’s now certain that when a journalist is tasked to write an editorial on PETER in future, his first port of call for source material will doubtless be Wikipedia and so, like the proverbial vicious circle, the inaccuracy is relentlessly repeated.
Re. the claim made by J.G. Ballard which is also mentioned by the Author. PETER maintains that he never met either J.G. Ballard or any member of his family. He has no recollection of Ballard ever being in Lung Hau.
While PETER has mentioned in interviews many times that his mother raced cars, he has never, ever suggested that it was her profession. This is probably why the Author was unable to find any evidence of this whilst carrying out his intrusive inquiries.
“She (Mother) was beautiful – a real Claudette Colbert lookalike and racing driver, who was chased all over the place by men. I ended up in China when the Japanese invaded”. PETER WYNGARDE
- The “Q&A’ and “fan blog” referred to by the Author is a section of the Official Peter Wyngarde Blog entitled ‘Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Peter Wyngarde… But Were Afraid To Ask’.
The definition of a “fan blog” is as follows: ‘A fan blog, fan site or fan page is a website created and maintained by a fan or devotee about a celebrity, thing or particular cultural phenomenon.’
Firstly, The Official Peter Wyngarde Blog was not created by a ‘fan’, nor is it run by a ‘fan’.
Secondly, the Blog was started and supported with the approval and backing of PETER WYNGARDE. The Blog contains numerous personal contributions from Mr WYNGARDE. It is our belief that the term used by the Author was specifically chosen to demean our repute, and give his version of PETER’s life and career more credence.
In a production of ‘Present Laughter’ in which PETER appeared early on in his acting career, he played a character called Morris Dixon, not “Morris Albert”, as is stated by the Author.
⇐ Taken from an original theatre programme for ‘Present Laughter’
It’s interesting that the Author references ‘South’ as a significant moment in PETER’s career, which indeed it was, but doesn’t bother to acknowledge the numerous other notable highlights, which include:
1960: ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ for portrayal of Count Marcellus in Duel of Angels on Broadway. U.S.A.
1960: ‘San Francisco Award for Best Actor In A Foreign Play’ for portrayal of Count Marcellus in ‘Duel of Angels’ on Broadway. U.S.A.
1962: ‘Best Actor’ by the Guild of Television Producers and Director
1964: Television Actor of the Year’ for his portrayal of Ferdinand de Levis in ‘Loyalties’ on ITV.
1967: ‘Best Actor’. Emmy Nomination for his portrayal of Stewart Kirby in the ‘Avengers’ episode, ‘Epic’.
1972: Starring in the World Premier of ‘Butley’ in Melbourne.
1977: World Premier of ‘Big Toys’. English Theatre, Vienna.
Was ‘South’ highlighted merely because of the homosexual connection? Probably.
- Having gone through boxes and files of original ITC material on both ‘Department S’ and ’Jason King’, I can find nothing in which either show was described as an “espionage” series.
- “His Jason King character often got the girl and as she is about to kiss him, he manages to avoid it, much to the annoyance of co-actor Joel Fabiani”.
I put the following sentence both to PETER and other ITC aficionados – none of whom were familiar with this scenario. I have, however, seen something similar on at least two other websites (one cut and pasted from the other). The original was obviously written by someone who professes to know about these series but who, in reality, has probably never seen either of them.
- Although PETER made 260 appearances in ‘The King and I’, not all of those performances were at the Adelphi Theatre, as stated.
The production toured the UK for several months prior to opening in London, with the show stopping off in Birmingham, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham… etc., before transferring to the West End.
- Whilst the Author is correct in saying that PETER made an appearance in the Two Ronnies 1984 Christmas Show, I don’t recall the segment being entitled “The Ballad of Snivelling and Grudge and A Film Story“.
- Although perhaps a bit nit-picky, there is a lack of attention to detail with the reference to ‘Tank Malling’. The character PETER played was called Sir Robert Knights, not Sir Robert Knight.
- The production of ‘Underground’ referred to did not only play at The Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, and at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London, which appears to be suggested. It was also staged in Birmingham, Brighton, Lincoln, Manchester, Richmond, York… etc.
- The wording used by the Author in relation to ‘The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari’ (1996), implies that PETER pulled out of a performance midway through. In actual fact, the first ‘Preview’ was abandoned at the interval when a winch that was integral to the plot, failed. I was there that night and witnessed what happened myself. PETER was forced to leave the production on the following day after he contracted a severe throat infection.
- PETER was actually married to Dorinda Stevens for five years, not three, as is claimed by the Author.
- The words “battled alcoholism” could be viewed as libelous, since PETER was diagnosed as an alcoholic, nor has he ever received treatment for “alcoholism”. He has not drunk any kind of alcohol since 1980.
It’s interesting that the author of the Wikipedia ‘biography’ relies on items from online archives such as My Heritage. The following was found on that ‘site (https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-10182-106088/peter-wyngarde-in-biographical-summaries-of-notable-people )
In Biographical Summaries of Notable People
|Aliases:||Cyril Louis Goldbert, Wyngarde, Peter, Peter Paul Wyngarde, Cyril Goldbert|
|Birth:||Aug 23 1928 Marseille
This particular website, just like Wikipedia, invites any Tom, Dick or Harriett to contribute information, or to edit the details contained therein. Perhaps someone should inform them that, apart from a couple of weeks following his birth, PETER has never been a resident of Marseilles!
The point, as above, is that if there are inaccuracies in a supposed primary source, then you have to ask yourself, what other pieces of so-called “reliable”(!) or ‘substantiated evidence’(!!) did this particular Author rely upon to compile his article? And how many others have, in turn, used his work as a source?
. The Pickerskill Detentions. Character: Mr Mike Poulson-Jabby. Broadcast: BBC Radio 4 – 28th February 2007 at 23.15
Click here for: ‘When is Enough, Enough’? The unwarranted intrusion into PETER’s privacy
The Hellfire Club: The OFFICIAL PETER WYNGARDE Appreciation Society: https://www.facebook.com/groups/813997125389790/