Obituary from Daily Post (Liverpool, England), 8/16/2005


HE HAD the face of a crumpled hat set heavily on the sort of body you would see at the lower end of a Saturday night boxing bill and his eyes seemed to warn: "Don't mess with me, son".

Sadly, the Zulus weren't familiar with such faces and they came at 'Enry 'Ookie 'Ook time and time again with their assegais, only to be met by the cold steel of a British bayonet - anyway, that's how it happened in the movie.

Doubtless this Christmas, we'll have another chance to see James Booth play Private Henry Hook VC in the 1964 film. Although the epic depiction of Rorke's Drift starred Michael Caine and Stanley Baker, Booth stole scenes as the drunken malingerer, who comes good when his blood is up - a characterisation which upset his family.

In some ways, Booth was quite similar to the film's Hook, gaining a reputation as a hell-raiser, partial to a glass or two.

Born David Geeves in Croydon, Surrey, he left grammar school at 17 to join the Army, where he became a captain, before entering civilian life But office work was not his style and Booth joined a remarkable class at Rada. It included Albert Finney, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, Alan Bates, many women and much booze.

Booth joined Joan Littlewood's British People's Theatre Workshop in 1959 and played an IRA man in her production of Brendan Behan's The Hostage. This led to his starring role in Fings Ain't What They Used T'Be, a musical, with a score by Lionel Bart, brothing with East End characters.

He then had a spell with the Royal Shakespeare Company before featuring on the big screen in typical parts in Jazzboat and In The Nick. However, in The Trials of Oscar Wilde, he played the blackmailing rent-boy, Alfred Wood.

In Sparrows Can't Sing (1962), Booth was opposite Barbara Windsor. The film, meant to show East End life in the raw, quickly dated.

Booth left England for America in the 1970s, where he supplemented his acting by writing scripts for action thrillers. He was the ex-convict in the cult TV series, Twin Peaks.

Booth was married with four children James Booth, actor; born December 19,1927, died August 11, 2005.