Vic Oliver

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Vic Oliver, born Victor Oliver von Samek, (8 July 1898 – 15 August 1964) was an actor and radio comedian.

Life and career[edit]

He was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Viktor von Samek, and came to the United Kingdom via America.

He starred in the BBC radio show Hi, Gang! along with Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels; and appeared in many others, including Discord in Three Flats (1962) with Cicely Courtneidge and Jack Hulbert. He was a skilled musician and played the violin (deliberately badly in his shows). He had aspirations as a conductor and founded the Vic Oliver Concert Orchestra which gave light classical concerts along the south coast of England. His theme tune was Prelude to the Stars, of which he was the composer. He was a regular on Henry Hall's Guest Night and Workers' Playtime and, as a music-based comedian, has been considered a precursor of Victor Borge. He was the very first 'castaway' on the long-running radio series Desert Island Discs in 1942.[1]

As a Jew, his name was listed on a Nazi blacklist (known as "The Black Book") of people to be arrested (and killed) immediately on a successful German invasion of Britain.

Oliver married Winston Churchill's daughter, Sarah, in 1936. Churchill did not approve of him; there is an anecdote that at a dinner party at which Oliver was present, Churchill was asked whom he most admired. Churchill replied, "Mussolini". When asked why, he replied, "Because he had the good sense to shoot his son-in-law!" He and Sarah divorced in 1945.[1][2] Oliver married Natalie Frances Conder in 1946 in Westminster, London. Members of his family live again in Vienna.


After arriving in the United Kingdom in 1936, Oliver became a supporter of Division One side Brentford and was vice-president of the club in the early 1950s.[3] He later became president of the Brentford Supporters' Club.


He died in Johannesburg, South Africa.[1]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Alex Hudson (26 January 2012). "The castaway who annoyed Churchill". BBC News. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Winston Churchill. Taylor, Robert Lewis. 1952. Pocket Books, New York. p373-374
  3. ^ Haynes, Graham (1998). A-Z Of Bees: Brentford Encyclopaedia. Yore Publications. ISBN 1 874427 57 7. 

Members of his family are living in Vienna.