Credit: Shutterstock/Terry-Thomas

Do not always assume the other fellow has intelligence equal to yours. He may have more

Famous for his consistently wicked portrayal of cads, bounders and toffs, Terry-Thomas built a career out of playing the bad guy in cinema and television for decades.

Born in Finchley, North London, Thomas Terry Hoar-Stevens was a precocious youth who would entertain his family with impromptu comedy performances and dance routines. He continued “farting around” as he would put it, through his school years and on into work life where he would entertain his colleagues with similar routines. When management caught wind of his antics they chose not to reprimand him, instead prompting him to join the company’s amateur dramatics society. He made his stage debut as Lord Trench in a staging of The Dover Road and the rest, as they say, was history.

His star grew throughout the 1930s and he gained significant notoriety as a cabaret performer in London. When war broke out in 1939 his talents were called on for a higher cause. The Entertainment National Service Association was formed with the intention of providing entertainment to the British Armed Forces and Terry-Thomas joined up with then wife and fellow performer Pat Patlanski.

When Terry-Thomas received his call up papers he left the ENSA and reported to the Royal Corps of Signals training depot in Ossett, West Riding of Yorkshire. He continued to perform in cabaret during this time and was snapped up by Captain George Black for a special outfit of entertainers serving in the military known as the Stars in Battledress. It was with the SiB that Terry-Thomas gained much notoriety and post-war he used that notoriety to propel himself to greater fame, starring in films and television from his home in the UK to the glamorous heights of Hollywood.