Pick Another Birthday Date

Find People:

Norman Lumsden


Real name: Thompson, Norman
Birthdate: 16 September 1906, London, England, UK
Date of death: 28 November 2001, Ealing, London, England, UK

  • 'Irene' (1950 - 28 November 2001) (his death); 1 child


    Born Norman Thompson in London in 1906. Son of a butler, started his working life as a commercial artist designing book jackets for the publishers Hodder & Stoughton.

    After surviving emphysema he was advised by his surgeon to take up singing to revive his lungs. Made his first radio broadcast for the BBC in the 1930s, singing negro spirituals and Czech songs by Dvorak. At this time he changed his surname to Lumsden (his mother's maiden name). ‘Benjamin Britten’ recognised Lumsden's singing talents describing him as, "that rare British product, a true bass". Norman had a distinguished career as an opera singer, performing several times at Covent Garden and the prestigious Aldeburgh and Glyndebourne festivals. Productions he performed in include Britten's version of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', also 'Albert Herring' and 'Billy Budd'. Took part in Britten's first 13 Aldeburgh festivals (1948-60). He gained acting work after appearing in a commercial for cracker biscuits in the 1970s. Mostly only had bit parts as a screen actor.
    Author: Andrew Cox, Cardiff, Wales.


    Handful of Dust, A (1988) [Ambrose] <5>
    Hazard of Hearts, A (1987) (TV) [Old Vulcan's Retainer]
    Hunchback of Notre Dame, The (1982) (TV) [King's Attorney] <27>
    Runners (1983) (uncredited)White Hunter, Black Heart (1990) [Butler George] <4>

    Guest apperance(s)

  • '"Jeeves and Wooster" (1990)' , as Buffers Porter (episode 1.3 'Village Sports Day at Twing (or, The Gambling Event), The (5/6/1990)')
  • '"One Foot in the Grave" (1990)' , as Mr. Parslow (episode 1.4 'I'll Retire to Bedlam (1/25/1990)')
  • '"Minder" (1979)' , as Vicar (episode 4.2 'Senior Citizen Caine (1/18/1984)')
  • '"Sweeney, The" (1975)' , as Sir Henry (episode 4.2 'Hard Men (9/14/1978)')


  • Although he was most famous for playing 'Fly Fishing' author J. R. Hartley in the Yellow Pages ads, he didn't actually take up fishing until he was 85.

    Other work(s)

  • Starred as "J.R. Hartley" in one of the most famous advertising campaigns in British television history (for Yellow Pages).
  • The Yellow Pages advert mentioned a fictitious book "Fly Fishing" by J R Hartley. So successful was the advertising campaign that bookshops were overwhelmed by people who wanted to order a copy.