|Alfred Bass (born Abraham
Basalinksy; 8 April 1921 – 15 July 1987) was a diminutive
cockney-accented English actor. He was born in Bethnal Green, London
to a Jewish family.
He began his acting career at Unity
Theatre, London in the late 1930s, appearing in Plant In The Sun, and
as the pantomime King in Babes In The Wood. Bass first appeared on
film in wartime documentaries. His stage career spanned classics by
Shakespeare and Shaw, but on film he applied the lessons of his youth,
playing pragmatic working class roles, speaking a cockney vernacular.
During the 1950s he continued to direct shows at Unity, and on one
occasion appeared in court (along with Vida Hope) charged with putting
on a play without a license..
Among his most often seen films (by modern audiences), are The
Lavender Hill Mob and A Tale of Two Cities. He also starred in Roman
Polanski's horror sex romp The Fearless Vampire Killers (British title
"The Dance of the Vampires") as the character Yoine Shagal, the
innkeeper. Initially, he seeks to protect his beautiful daughter
Sarah, portrayed by Sharon Tate, from the local vampire lord. However,
the vampire lord prevails, turning Shagal and his daughter into
vampires. When a maid tries to scare him off with a crucifix, after a
moment's shock (he has only recently been vampiried) he utters the
unforgettable line "Oy, have you got the wrong vampire!", thus
becoming perhaps the first Jewish vampire in film. His character
spends the rest of the movie dealing with his vampirism, spouting off
funny one-liners and seeking to fulfil his sexual cravings.
One of his little-seen film appearances is the Pride segment of The
Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins. He also appeared in many cameo roles,
such as the Indian restaurant doorman in the Beatles' movie Help!
(1965), and in Moonraker (1979).
He continued working until the turn of the 1980s and had roles in the
TV series Till Death Us Do Part, Minder, and Are You Being Served?. He
sometimes emphasised his Jewish background in the accent he used on
He also guest starred in two episodes of the British comedy television
The Goodies, in which he appeared as the "Town Planner" in Camelot,
and as the "Giant" in The Goodies and the Beanstalk.
He starred in The Army Game a British TV comedy series of the late
1950s and early 1960s, and then co-starred in its sequel Bootsie and
Snudge as a tramp with Bill Fraser and Clive Dunn. Both series were
very popular in Britain. He also had success on the stage, in
particular with The Bespoke Overcoat which was filmed in 1956. He
successfully took over from Topol in the lead role in Fiddler on the
Roof on the West End stage.
He also appeared in the 1950s Landmark BBC Radio SF Series Journey
Into Space as Lemuel "Lemmy" Barnet.
He died of a heart attack in 1987. His last home was in Borehamwood,