Born George Frederick Joffre Hartree at Hounslow in Middlesex, England, he took his stage name from a theatrical knight of the previous century (see below). He began acting as a child, eventually appearing in films opposite Will Hay during the 1930s.
He became best known for starring in many of the Carry On series of films throughout the 1960s and 70s, mostly playing effeminate, wimpish characters. He revealed little about his private life, and went into retirement after the series ended.
He had suffered from arthritis for a long time, and by 1988 his doctors told him that the condition had become so serious that his legs would have to be amputated in order to save his life. He refused, and died almost a month later. He was 73.
Sir Charles Hawtrey (September 21, 1858 - July 30, 1923), from whom the better-known Charles Hawtrey borrowed his name, was a celebrated Victorian stage actor, knighted in 1922 by King George V. Towards the end of his career, he appeared in several silent films.