Spike Milligan: 1918-200“Spike” Milligan was born in Ahmednagar, India, on 16 April 1918 to an Irish-born officer in the British Army and his wife.
Though he lived most of his life in England and served in the British Army, he was declared stateless in 1960, and took Irish citizenship.
He suffered from bipolar disorder for most of his life, having at least ten mental breakdowns. He was a strident campaigner on environmental matters, particularly arguing against unnecessary noise. He served in the Royal Artillery in World War II in North Africa and also Italy, where he was hospitalized for shell shock.
During most of the 1930s and early 1940s he performed as a jazz trumpeter but even then he did comedy sketches. After his hospitalization he played guitar with a jazz/comedy group called The Bill Hall Trio, at first in concert parties for the troops and, after the war, for a short time on stage. While he was with the Central Pool of Artists (a group, in his own words, “of bomb-happy squaddies”) he began to write parodies of their mainstream plays that displayed many of the key elements of what would become The Goon Show with Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine.
Spike died from liver disease, at the age of 83, on February 27, 2002, at his home in Rye, East Sussex.