Actor Andrew Sachs, best known for his role in iconic British sitcom Fawlty Towers, has passed away at age 86 after a four-year struggle with Alzheimer’s.
“My heart has been broken every day for a long time,” Sachs’ wife Melody told The Daily Mail, adding that her late husband faced the disease without complaint.
“I never once heard him grumble,” she said.
Fans of Fawlty Towers will recall Sachs in his signature role as bumbling Spanish waiter Manuel, whose tenuous grasp of the English language resulted in hilarious misunderstandings — punctuated by what became his catchphrase: “Que?” The response typically earned him a smack on the head from lunatic hotelier Basil Fawlty, series star and creator John Cleese, who explained his waiter’s mishaps with the catch-all: “He’s from Barcelona.”
Sachs was born in Berlin in 1930 to a Catholic mother and Jewish father, but moved to Britain at age eight with his family as they fled Nazi Germany. According to Sachs’s autobiography, he pleaded with Cleese to make the character German “because I’m not sure I can do a Spanish accent.” Luckily, Cleese prevailed and one of TV’s all-time great comedy characters was born.
While Fawlty Towers remains his best-known project, Sachs enjoyed a long and prolific career in the U.K., primarily on television, appearing in such TV series as The Saint, Doctor Who, Coronation Street and EastEnders, in addition to the 2012 feature film Quartet.
Upon learning of his former co-star’s passing, Cleese paid tribute to “a sweet, gentle and kind man and a truly great farceur” in a series of tweets.