William (Bill) Simpson Fraser (sometimes spelt Frazer) was born on 5 June 1908 to the Alexander family of 12 Pitcullen Crescent, Perth. The family business was Messrs Frazer & Sons, Clothiers (merchant tailors and complete outfitters) which was located at 55-59 High Street, Perth, with branches in Pitlochry, Kingussie and Aberfeldy. Alexander Frazer, his father, was the Lord Dean of Guild in Perth.
William Fraser attended Strathallan School, worked in a bank as a clerk in Perth and was well known as a moving spirit in local dramatic circles. In 1930, he received a theatrical appointment in London. The first few months were spent in Calcutta, India. He did not have a great start to his career and was often penniless, sleeping rough on the Embankment in London. Just before the Second World War, Fraser was running the Connaught Theatre in Worthing. He was there for seven years and in that time had acted in approximately 300 plays.
During the war, he was called up and served with the RAF in a RAF Special Liaison Unit reaching the rank of flight lieutenant. During this time, he met Eric Sykes and after the war, he met him again and gave him his first work as a writer for radio comedy. They worked together many times over the following years. Fraser is also credited with giving Peter Cushing his first acting job.
In 1942, Fraser married Betty Bowden, grand-daughter of the late rear Admiral Edward Kellyin, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.
Fraser first appeared on television is The Tony Handcock Show (1956). He later joined The Army Game which led to a sequel for which he is probably best known and remembered, Bootsie and Snudge. There were very many roles in which he appeared on stage and TV over the years, many of them comedic parts. He appeared in 50 movies from 1938 through to 1987. In 1986 he won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy Performance for his stage role in the play When We Are Married. In 1981, he was the subject of Eamonn Andrews, This Is Your Life.
When he was not acting, Fraser ran a sweetshop and tobacconist in Ilford Lane, Ilford. He later married again; to Pamela Cundell in 1981. Fraser died at the age of 79 on 9 September 1987 in Bushey, Hertfordshire.
Pamela Cundell played Mrs Fox in the long-running TV comedy series, Dad’s Army.
Special Liaison Units were connected to the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, they oversaw the distribution of ULTRA intelligence.
Perthshire Advertiser 22 August 1942
Perthshire Advertiser 10 June 1908
Perthshire Advertiser 10 December 1913