Mel Smith the other half of the comedy team Smith and Jones died on Friday of a heart attack, he was 60 years-old. The British comedian, who worked with Griff Rhys Jones on sketch shows Alas Smith and Jones and Not the Nine O’Clock News, died in his home according to Michael Foster.
Mel Smith had known and worked with Jones for years and he set up the independent television company, Talkback productions, with his friend of 35 years. Rhys Jones said that Mel was a good friend and a “brilliant actor.”
Michael Foster released a statement on behalf of Smith’s wife, Pam. He said, “Mel Smith, comedian and writer, died on Friday aged 60, from a heart attack at his home in north-west London.” Smith was found to be dead in his home just after 9 O’Clock a.m. BST by an ambulance crew called to his his house.
Tributes to the brilliant comedian, actor and director have been flooding in.
Rhys Jones said, “I still can’t believe this has happened. To everybody who ever met him, Mel was a force for life. He had a relish for it that seemed utterly inexhaustible.” He continued by saying that the two of them had never had a spat and that they, “loved performing together.”
“He inspired love and utter loyalty and he gave it in return. I will look back on the days working with him as some of the funniest times that I have ever spent,” he concluded. The former partner of Mel Smith described his late partner as, “a gentleman and a scholar, a gambler and a wit”.
Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones initially me when they were working on Not the Nine O’Clock News. They worked with Rowan Atkinson and Pamela Stephenson on the long running comedy program that aired from 1974 until 1982.
The pair met, along with Rowan Atkinson and Pamela Stephenson, working on Not the Nine O’Clock News, which ran from 1979 to 1982. John Lloyd, the man behind the program, spoke to the BBC and said that Mel had not been well for some time. He said of his friend, “Mel did an extraordinary thing – he taught us all how to make comedy natural. He was a brilliant theatre director… Not only was he a great actor, he was a wonderful editor.”
Lloyd went on to say, “Life was always exciting around Mel. Being funny came naturally to him, so much so that he never seemed to give it a second thought. Mel and Griff were one of the great comedy acts and it’s hard to imagine that one of them is no longer with us.”
The British comedian has left a comic legacy behind that few could match. Mel Smith’s dying of a heart attack at the age of 60 has deprived the world of his brand of comedy.
The production company that Mel Smith created for himself and Griff Rhys Jones to continue working together, Talkback Productions, made a number of popular as well as much-loved comedies – among them Da Ali G Show, I’m Alan Partridge and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. The pair sold the company in 2000 for almost $95 million.
Rowan Atkinson, known the world over as Mr Bean, starred in Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie that Mel Smith directed in 1997; he said of Smith that he was a, “lovely man of whom I saw too little in his later years. He had a wonderfully generous and sympathetic presence both on and off screen.”
Stephen Fry posted on his Twitter account after he’d heard of Smith’s death, “Terrible news about my old friend Mel Smith, dead today from a heart attack. Mel lived a full life, but was kind, funny and wonderful to know.”
Smith was the son of a bookmaker from Chiswick, West London. Smith seemed destined to be in show business as he started directing plays with friends as actors at the tender age of six.
Aside from being a long time comedic and business partner with Griff Rhys Jones, Smith was a Hollywood director as well as a comic writer, actor and singer.
Mel Smith married Pam who was a former model and the couple owned houses in St John’s Wood and Little Haseley in Oxfordshire, which they later sold. They also had a house in Barbados. The couple had one daughter Alexandra.
The news that British Comedian Mel Smith has died aged 60 of a heart attack will sadden his many fans and friends and the tributes to him will continue to flood in. No further news has been released dealing with funeral arrangement. Melvin Kenneth “Mel” Smith born on December 3, 1952 and died too soon on July 19, 2013. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his friends and family. This man’s comic brilliance and genuine warmth will be missed by all who knew him.
By Michael Smith