In the 1960s Stanley Morgan played minor characters in a large number of British films, including two directed by Bryan Forbes, Seance on a Wet Afternoon and The L-Shaped Room
My friend Stanley Morgan’s first book, The Sewing Machine Man, published in 1968, featured a lovable rogue, Russ Tobin, whose career path from bank clerk to sewing machine salesman seemed largely autobiographical. It was an immediate hit. There would be a further 17 books in the series, which sold around 10m copies worldwide by the close of the 1970s. Stan, who has died aged 88, then moved into the US market and continued to write thrillers throughout the 80s and 90s.
The son of Thomas Morgan, the manager of a transport company, and his wife, Annie, Stan was born in Liverpool, where he attended the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys. He began his professional life as a bank clerk on Merseyside, but soon spread his wings and embarked on travels to Canada and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). He worked as a salesman, a debt collector, and as a book-keeper on a tobacco farm, but also began acting in radio plays and joined an amateur theatre society. The owner of the farm was so impressed that he sponsored Stan to return to London and try to make it as an actor.
In the 60s he played minor characters in a large number of British films, including two directed by Bryan Forbes, The L-Shaped Room (1962) and Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), as well as the classic low-budget Konga (1961) and, most notably, Dr No (1962), in which he played the casino concierge who introduces the world to James Bond.
He also provided voiceovers for countless adverts and it is surprising how familiar his voice became. In 1970 he was nominated for a Bafta for a short documentary he voiced for the electronics company Mullard called Mullardability. It was during the long hours awaiting calls from his agent that Stan began to write.
After picking up a second-hand copy of The Sewing Machine Man in the 90s, and then looking out for his name in bookshops, I became fascinated by the sheer volume of his work and its relative obscurity. I began to catalogue his books via a slightly tongue-in-cheek website and received emails from other fans of his writing. Then, out of the blue, Stan himself contacted me.
By then it had been a few years since the publication of his latest book, Trance (1993), a political thriller which had appeared under the nom de plume Richard Kessler, after which, tired of wrangles with his publishers, he had settled on the south coast, in Eastbourne, where he and his wife, Linda (nee Williams), managed a retirement home.
He had been utterly delighted to find my site and we forged a friendship that lasted for nearly 20 years. The renewed interest in his work led to the publication of a 19th Russ Tobin novel, Tobin Goes Cuckoo (2005), set in a retirement home. The James Bond fan community also rediscovered him and he was thrilled to be invited to attend international conventions and the Pinewood Studios James Bond 50th Anniversary Event in 2012.
He is survived by Linda, whom he married in 1973, and their children, Robert, Simon and Sarah, and grandchildren, Amber and Martha. Another daughter, Jo, died in 2010.