Actor Harry Towb dies

By Jenni Frazer, July 27, 2009
Harry Towb in Eastenders

Harry Towb in Eastenders

The distinguished character actor, Harry Towb, has died, aged 83, at his London home.

Mr Towb is said to have been the only Jew born in the Northern Irish town of Larne, County Antrim, but he grew up in Belfast. His family lived for a while in Newcastle on Tyne before returning to Belfast.

Last December he appeared as David, the elderly fiance of scheming Janine Butcher in EastEnders, taking part in a storyline filmed at Hendon United Synagogue.

Mr Towb began his acting career in Northern Ireland, working with a number of theatrical groups before moving to England in the 1950s.

As well as starring in the National Theatre production of Brighton Beach Memoirs, he also starred in Little Shop of Horrors, Barmitzvah Boy, Death of a Salesman and The Mandate.
He also helped bring Sherlock Holmes and Travesties to Broadway with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In 1991 he played the "Jew-finder general" in a best forgotten BBC sitcom, So You Think You've Got Troubles, as the chairman of the ailing Belfast Jewish community who seeks to convince a recently arrived "Jewish atheist", played by Warren Mitchell, to join the shul.

He was justly proud of his award-winning TV drama Cowboys which he wrote and starred in, playing a Belfast-born Jew who returns from America to visit his native city.

He also presented a 1983 documentary about the history of the Belfast Jewish community, Odd Men In, which was shown on national television, his proudest moment being when he interviewed the then president of Israel, Belfast-born, Chaim Herzog.

    Last updated: 5:06pm, July 27 2009