Welsh-born stage and screen star Victor Spinetti, who appeared in the first three Beatles movies, died Monday morning at a hospice in Monmouth of prostate cancer, his agent said. He was 82.
He won a Tony award for his Broadway supporting performance as a drill sergeant in 1963's Oh, What a Lovely War!.
Often known for his roles as evildoers, he voiced archvillain Texas Pete in the early 1980s S4C animated series SuperTed. He repeated the role in the 1989 sequel The Further Adventures of SuperTed.
The voice of Dick Deadeye in the 1975 Bill Melendez movie Dick Deadeye, or Duty Done, he was also a writer for the production. He voiced Glump in the 1993 English-language dub of the Hungarian animated film The Princess and the Goblin.
Spinetti was the voice director of the 1979 TV-movie The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, voicing Mr. Tumnus as well.
He was in the voice casts of the 1994 ABC Weekend Special The Secret Garden and the 1976 British series Fred Basset. Spinetto voiced the Taxi Driver, Waiter, Barman and Gangster in the 2006 cartoon short Cosa raccomanda lei?.
Born to an Italian-Welsh father and Welsh mother in Ebbw Vale on September 2, 1929, he performed regularly in London's West End theatrical district and with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
His over 30 films included Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney was one of many celebrities who praised Spinetti, speaking about his "wit and exuberant personality."
McCartney became friends with the Welshman during filming for the Fab Four's first film, 1964's A Hard Day's Night.
"Victor was a fine man, a great pal and a fantastic actor and someone I am proud to have known for many years," said McCartney. "His irreverent wit and exuberant personality will remain in my memory forever.
"I will miss his loyal friendship, as will all the others who were lucky enough to know and love the wonderful Mr Spinetti," the former Beatle added.
"So sad Victor Spinetti has died. The funniest story teller I've ever met and a lovely warm man," actor Rob Brydon tweeted.
"Proud to have been his friend. 'Eh, Vic...'"
"Just heard my wonderful friend, co writer and director Victor Spinetti died. Am devastated to have lost a true acting genius," actor-singer Britt Ekland wrote.
Welsh actress Sian Phillips expressed sadness and shock.
"He was such a force of joy and vitality. When one saw him across a crowded room, one couldn't wait to get together with him and have a chat and a catch-up," she told BBC Wales.
Lifelong friend Barbara Windsor, Spinetti's co-star in the West End stage play Oh! What a Lovely War, had visited Spinetti last Thursday.
"We were very close. He was another of my great friends from that era. He was such a great man," she said.
"We just chatted and chatted and talked about old things. But he said, 'Let's not talk about all that, let's talk about the future.'
"What he was trying to say was that everything was happy in his room. I was happy to see him. He didn't look ill. He looked great. He was swearing a lot, like that would get rid of the illness, and we just laughed."
He was born Victorio Giorgio Andrea Spinetti in the living quarters above the chip shop owned by his family. Attending Monmouth School, he was first interested in teaching. But he ended up studying acting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff.
Early in his stage career, he performed many times with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop, whose production of Oh, What a Lovely War! headed to the West End and, ultimately, Broadway.
His performance in the musical led the Beatles to ask him to appear in A Hard Day's Night.
It's been suggested that George Harrison told Spinetti he had to be in the film because "me mum will only go to see them if you're in them."
Spinetti appeared in the Beatles' next two productions, Help! (1965) and the hour-long 1967 TV-movie Magical Mystery Tour.
He also collaborated with John Lennon to adapt the Beatle's book, In His Own Write, into a play, which he directed at the National Theatre.
Spinetti co-starred with Jack Klugman when The Odd Couple toured London.
In movies, he starred in Zeffirelli's The Taming of the Shrew, again with Burton and Taylor, and The Return of the Pink Panther and The Krays in 1990.
A well-known raconteur, Spinetti created poetry, an autobiography and his one-man show, A Very Private Diary.
McCartney and Brydon paid tribute to Spinetti in a special British Broadcasting Corporation program last year. The documentary on his life and work saw contributions from Barbara Windsor and Brydon, who lauded a "great Welsh eccentric."
Victor Spinetti's partner since 1953, Graham Curnow, died in 1997. He is survived by younger brother Henry, a drummer.