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Frank Pemberton

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Frank Barlow

Publicity photo of Frank Pemberton as Frank Barlow.

Frank Pemberton (born Stretford 14th September 1914, died 26th March 1971) played Frank Barlow from the first episode in 1960, until his character was axed in May 1964, after which he made two more guest appearances, once in March 1967 and again in February 1971.

Prior to Coronation Street, he was an engineering apprentice before becoming an actor and accumulated many small television roles in his career including his debut part in Barbados Quest in 1955 and followed by BBC Sunday Night Theatre, Life with the Lyons, Emergency-Ward 10, Armchair Theatre, two editions of Hancock's Half Hour, and Boyd QC.

After leaving Coronation Street he appeared in the critically-panned farce Firm Foundations with fellow Street stars Lynne Carol, Doreen Keogh and Ivan Beavis followed by a part in the acclaimed BBC2 series Theatre 625, broadcast on 6th December 1964. Just over two months later, on 24th February 1965 he suffered a devastating stroke which paralysed his left-hand side although his speech was not affected to any long-lasting degree. The producers of Coronation Street brought Frank back for his one-off appearance in Episode 652 (15th March 1967) to see if he was up to for a full-time return but it was not to be. He was married just before his debut on the programme to actress Jean Marlow but the two were divorced in 1967. The following year, on 23rd May 1968, Frank married Sheila Cook, who had been one of his nurses, and they eventually set up home in a bunglow in the grounds of a care home in Effingham Lane, Copthorne, Surrey.

On 9th December 1970, Frank appeared with many other past stars of the programme, including his screen-wife Noel Dyson, at the launch party of Ken Irwin's book The Real Coronation Street and revealed to the Daily Mirror that he would be appearing in the show once again. That return was in Episode 1049 (3rd February 1971) at the funeral of his screen daughter-in-law Valerie Barlow where the actor's partially-paralysed condition was apparent to closely-watching viewers. The actor also spoke to the Daily Mirror again on the date of the broadcast saying that the return was a try out to see if he was up to further appearances in the role. Sadly, the actor suffered another final stroke and died at his Copthorne home just seven weeks after being in studio for his return.

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