BORN LONDON, FEBRUARY 1, 1920. DIED LONDON, FEBRUARY 6, 2008, AGED 88.
PART-TIME comic Joe Dindol , who raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity, entertained the troops while repairing RAF planes at the St Athan base, South Wales, during the Second World War.
But despite success in post-war auditions and offers of work from established performers and the BBC, his parents advised him against being a full-time comic on the grounds that this was no job for a nice Jewish boy.
Instead, he worked the markets in Oxford, Kettering and Banbury. He later joked he wished he had turned professional, as “the shmatte business is getting harder and harder.”
East End-born, he grew up in Bletchley, Bucks, where his father, Angel, ran a small drapery shop. He left school to be apprenticed as an electrician.
Growing up in a non-Jewish environment, at least until wartime evacuation, he and his sister and two brothers — a younger brother survives him -— were sent to cheder in Northampton, where he was barmitzvah. His parents were founder members of Northampton and Luton synagogues.
His experience in amateur dramatics in Bletchley and his success in RAF concert parties left him hooked on showbiz.
He performed at charity events, weddings, barmitzvahs and parties — his business card read: “available for weddings, barmitzvahs and divorces” -— and at every large hotel and theatre in the West End, with the Palladium as his favourite.
With his lugubrious face and perfect sense of timing, he told his best stories: the doctor who gave him 10 months to live. “I told him I couldn’t pay his bill so he gave me another six months.”
Or the Hebrew toast l’chaim, “which means, to life! I know what that means as I’ve got a brother doing chaim at Pentonville Prison”.
He played alongside famous comedians and entertainers, including Bob Monkhouse and Larry Adler. He raised huge sums for his Lodge’s good causes, for Jewish charities such as Alyn, the Jerusalem hospital for handicapped children, and in particular, for cancer research at North Middlesex Hospital after his wife, Sylvia’s, death in 1977 after nearly 30 years of marriage.
Suffering from Parkinson’s disease, he spent his last two years in Jewish Cares’ Rosetrees home, where he could still make staff laugh.
He is survived by his daughter, Rosalind; son, David; and two granddaughters.
Joe Dindol: lugubrious comic