British comedy legend Mel Smith passed away on Friday of a heart attack. He was 60.
Smith might not be familiar to American audiences, but his friend and colleague Rowan Atkinson certainly is. Smith and Atkinson were part of the British sketch comedy show Not The Nine O’Clock News. My favorite NTNON skit featured Atkinson dressed up as a gorilla and Smith playing the professor who civilized him being interviewed by Pamela Stephenson with hysterical results.
Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Smith and fellow NTNON alumnus Griff Rhys-Jones starred their own comedy show Alas Smith and Jones. Smith also occasionally acted in films such as The Princess Bride, produced The Ali G Show and directed films such as The Tall Man starring Jeff Goldblum. He also reunited with Atkinson to direct him in the Mr. Bean film Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie.
Like Atkinson, Smith was one of those at whom you could take one look at his face and just start laughing.