The Carry On performer and Harry Potter films’ Sorting Hat voice actor, Leslie Phillips, passed away at 98. On Monday, Phillips died “quietly in his sleep,” as his agent Jonathan Lloyd revealed to the PA news agency.
Born in the working-class London borough of Tottenham, Phillips became famous for his representations of upper-class cads. While he was a student at London’s renowned Italia Conti Stage School, he was able to rid himself of his accent via the study of dance, local.
He made his cinematic debut in the 1930s. Still, it wasn’t until long after the war—during which he served as a lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry—that he landed his breakout role, starring alongside Gene Kelly in the musical Les Girls.
A life filled with many twists and turns
He declined a move to Hollywood and starred in the Carry On films Nurse, Teacher, and Constable while remaining in Britain. As a result of his suggestive catchphrases, he gained widespread fame. Well, hey, and “I say!”
However, Phillips’ voice would be familiar to a new generation of moviegoers because he provided the narration for the sorting hat in the Harry Potter films. The hat assigned students to one of four houses at Hogwarts: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.
Although Phillips had a stroke about eight years ago, he is thought to be doing well now. A clip of Phillips from his BBC series The Kumars at No. 42 was posted by actor Sanjeev Bhaskar. As Phillips explains in the video, he was once cornered by a group of people on the London Underground who insisted he perform his catchphrases.
Bhaskar wrote on Twitter, “One of the fun components of producing #TheKumars42 was blending guests like here, Madness, and the wonderful #LesliePhillips, who couldn’t have been more of a gent. A kind, humorous, and kind soul who will be much missed. #Rest in Peace, Leslie Phillips.
And Piers Morgan tweeted, “RIP Leslie Phillips, 98. He was a great comic performer who became famous for his catchphrases like “Ding Dong,” “Well, Hello,” and “I Say..” in the Carry On and Doctor In The House films. What a bummer.