BRIAN RIX Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Brian Rix, Baron Rix (born January 27, 1927) is a British actor and charity worker. Born in Cottingham, Yorkshire, England, the son of a Hull shipowner, he became a professional actor, briefly, when he was 18. His wartime service began in the RAF, but he soon after volunteered to become a Bevin Boy, working instead as a coal miner.


After the war, Rix returned to the stage and in 1947 formed his own theatre company. Rix was associated with the Whitehall Theatre from 1944 until 1969, although as an actor-manager he became increasingly well known on TV as well as stage. The theatre specialised in farces, which were regularly televised. Rix was regularly seen on screen without his trousers on.


Rix’s daughter Shelley was born in 1951 with Down’s syndrome, and he has always used his name to promote public awareness and understanding of mental handicap. In 1980 he retired from acting, and became Secretary-General of the National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults (Mencap) (it became “The Royal Society” the following year) and in 1987 became its Chairman. Since 2002 the Society has been officially called the “Royal Mencap Society", with Rix now serving as its President.


In 1977 he was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and was knighted in 1986 for his services to charity. In 1992 his tireless work was further recognised when he was created a life peer. After 9 years as a Vice Lord Lieutenant of London Lord Rix was installed as the first Chancellor of the University of East London on 16 July 1997.


His recent 80th birthday marked the start of a year of fundraising and publicity for Mencap.


Lord Rix has been associated with many initiatives, including presenting “Let’s Go” for the BBC, which was one of the first programmes made specifically for people with learning disabilities. He is the author of two biographies, My Farce From My Elbow and Farce About Face, and two theatre histories, Tour de Farce and Life in the Farce Lane. He also edited, compiled and contributed to Gullible’s Travails, an anthology, and travel stories by famous people for the Mencap Blue Sky Appeal.