Michael Bentine

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Michael Bentine CBE (26 January 1922[1] – 26 November 1996 [2]) was a British comedian, comic actor and founding member of the Goons. A Peruvian Briton by heritage as a result of his father's nationality,[3] Bentine received in 1971 the Peruvian Order of Merit due to his fundraising work for the 1970 Great Peruvian Earthquake.[4]



Bentine was born Michael James Bentin in Watford, Hertfordshire, of Anglo-Peruvian parentage.[3] and grew up in Folkestone, Kent, one of his friends being the young David Tomlinson. He was educated at Eton College. He spoke fluent Spanish and French. His father was an early aeronautical engineer for Sopwith aircraft during and after World War I.

In World War II he volunteered for all services when the war broke out (the RAF was his first choice owing to the influence of his father's experience), but was rejected because of his father's Peruvian nationality.[3]

He started his acting career in 1940, in a touring company in Cardiff playing a juvenile lead in Sweet Lavender. He went on to join Robert Atkin's Shakespearean company in Regent's Park, London until he was called up for service in the RAF. He was appearing in a Shakespearean play in doublet and hose in the open-air theatre in London's Hyde Park when two RAF MPs marched on stage and arrested him for desertion. Unknown to him, an RAF conscription notice had been following him for a month as his company toured.

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