Leonard Fenton - Biography
Leonard Fenton (born Feinstein, 29 April 1926 in London, England) is a British actor, best known for his role as Dr. Harold Legg in the BBC soap opera, EastEnders.
Fenton's real family name is Feinstein. He was born and raised in the East End of London to Jewish parents. His parents were also English, but his ancestral roots lie in Eastern Europe; Riga and Lithuania.
He attended Raine Foundation Grammar School from 1937 to 1944. Fenton originally trained to be a civil engineer at King's College London and during World War II he was conscripted as an army engineer. He worked in this profession for five years after leaving the army, but eventually decided on a career change. He took up acting and won a scholarship to attend the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
His career in acting spans over fifty years and he continues to act occasionally on television and on stage. One of his earliest acting breaks came when he was offered a role by Orson Welles in his play Chimes At Midnight. Subsequent notable acting credits include: Up The Creek (1958); Studio Four (1962); Colditz (1974); Secret Army (1977); Z-Cars (1978); Play for Today (1981); Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (1984), and Shine on Harvey Moon (1982), where he played the Austrian Jew, Erich Gottlieb.
Fenton is best known for playing Dr. Harold Legg, one of the original characters from the BBC soap opera, EastEnders. The character appeared from the show's inception in 1985 until 1997, returning for brief stints in 2000, 2004 and 2007. The character was originally one of the main focal points of the programme, but over time he became less central. After the character's retirement in 1997, Fenton's appearances in EastEnders have been fewer and further between, often connected with other well-established characters like Pauline Fowler, Ethel Skinner and Dot Branning. He made a single appearance in 2004 at the funeral of Mark Fowler, and most recently appeared on 8 June 2007 to counsel Dot Branning regarding her concerns about Romanian 'foundling' baby, Tomas. In a "salute" to the role he played in Eastenders, Fenton has appeared in the recent advert for Daz Washing Powder as a Doctor who just happens to pass when the female main character in the advert faints after being informed by her boyfriend that he has gone out with her mother. Fenton comes forward (wearing a extremely brilliant white coat), announcing that he is a doctor.
Fenton's subsequent television credits have included Rumpole of the Bailey; So You Think You've Got Troubles (1991); Love Hurts (1993) and The Bill (1985; 2001; 2005), among others. In the West End he has played in two productions by Lindsay Anderson, Anton Chekhov's The Seagull and Ben Travers' last play, The Bed Before Yesterday. Fenton also appears in the British horror movie The Zombie Diaries (2006).
He has performed numerous radio plays including The Hobbit for BBC Radio. Amongst Fenton's other broadcasting work has been the BBC webcast of the Doctor Who story Death Comes to Time. On 17 February 2006 he made a personal appearance on the Channel 4 entertainment show, The Friday Night Project.
In December 2004, at the age of 78, Fenton made his directorial debut with After Chekhov, written by four contemporary writers Alan Drury, Martin Jago, Andrew Neil, Olwen Wymark in the 100th anniversary year of Chekhov's death. The piece, produced by Little London Theatre Company was performed at The Soho New Writer's Theatre.
Fenton and his first wife, cellist Madeline Thorner, have four children. Aside from acting he is also a professional painter and has held several exhibitions. Before the 2010 general election campaign Fenton came out in support for the Labour Party, after appearing in their election broadcast.
- Dr. Legg BBC character profile