John Fraser dead: The Dam Busters star dies aged 89 after cancer battle

THE Dam Busters star John Fraser has died aged 89 after a battle with cancer.

The Scottish actor – once dubbed the "most handsome man in Britain" – starred as Flight Lieutenant J V 'Hoppy' Hopgood in the 1955 war film.

Fraser also appeared alongside Alec Guinness in Tunes Of Glory in 1960 and Peter Sellers in The Waltz of the Toreadors in 1962.

The star was diagnosed with cancer a year ago but decided not to have chemotherapy.

He passed away on Saturday surrounded by his partner Rodney Pienaar, 68.

Rodney said: "He had oesophageal carcinoma for over a year and refused to have chemotherapy. It was an age thing, he never smoked.

"He was in Chelsea and Westminster hospital until two weeks ago and then he came back out. It would have been horrible if he had died in hospital but fortunately he was home for his last week.

"I found him on Saturday morning and he looked very peaceful in his bed. He had been ill but he hadn't suffered from Covid.

"He always said he'd had a marvellous life as an actor and loved to travel the world. We met in Cape Town and I ended up being his partner for 42 years.

"He is going to be cremated but hopefully next year his friends can come together to celebrate his life and have a proper memorial. He had written a few novels and continued to write in his final days. He also loved to attend a local theatre."


Fraser was born in a poverty-stricken Glasgow council estate in 1931.

His first role was in 1947 as a page in Oscar Wilde's Salome but his career took a backseat while he completed his National Service as a Royal Corps of Signals lieutenant with the British Army of the Rhine.

After his service was over, Fraser returned to acting and had a role in a BBC Television adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped in 1951.

He became a household name aged in his 20s with The Dam Busters before going on to appear in Touch and Go with Jack Hawkins in 1955.

But as a young gay actor, Fraser shied away from the spotlight as homosexuality was illegal at the time.

And in 1958 while filming The Wind Cannot Read, he got into a fight with actor Ronald Lewis who made comments about his sexuality.

He also said he refused to live a lie when an American producer promised to boost his career.

Fraser starred in more than 20 films throughout his career – including Doctor In Clover alongside Fenella Fielding.

He was nominated for a Best Actor Bafta for his role in The Trials of Oscar Wilde in 1960.

He moved to Buckinghamshire with his partner George and enjoyed a colourful love life – including a six-week fling with the Soviet ballet star Rudolf Nureyev.

Fraser splashed out on a blue Aston Martin and a chicken farm in Surrey and briefly had a singing career supporting Cliff Richard and Tommy Steele.

After his partner left him in 1970, Fraser toured West Africa performing Shakespeare with the British Counciland performed in more than 60 countries.

He later retired to Tuscany with his partner, Rodney, an artist from South Africa.

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