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Ken Hutchison

Ken Hutchison
Ken Hutchison
Ken Hutchison
Ken Hutchison

One of the most brilliant character actors of his generation, Hollywood’s loss was British television’s gain with Ken Hutchison. Born in Scotland, his handsome features and cheeky expression guaranteed him a career in character roles, but his dangerous streak led him early in his career into dark, villainous roles. He was cast by Sam Peckinpah as one of the sinister villagers of Straw Dogs (1971), raping Susan George and participating in the film’s closing violent siege. Peckinpah took to the actor, and the pair indulged in their love of drinking throughout the shoot, often to the frustration of those around them. Hutchison was soon offered a role in the Robert Mitchum film The Wrath of God (1972) but this was his one and only shot at the big time. Quite what went wrong is open to debate. Some say he was wary of success and got cold feet. Whether that is true or not, what certainly didn’t help was his unruly behaviour which made studio execs nervous of casting him again. He returned to Britain and continued his career as an anonymous but astounding character actor. He appeared in two of John Mackenzie’s Play For Today films based on Peter McDougall scripts. In Just Another Saturday (1975) he played the head thug of the Orange Lodge, and in Just a Boys’ Game (1979) he played Dancer Dunnichy, an irresponsible rogue who lived for drinking and dodging responsibility, a character that seemed to echo his offscreen persona. Hutchison was a stalwart of British TV crime series at this time, appearing in series such as Shoestring (1979), Target (1977) and Jemima Shore Investigates (1983) as well as The Sweeney (1974). In fact he also played the lead villain in the movie Sweeney 2 (1978), but the script allowed him precious little opportunity to shown off his skills as an actor. In 1978 the BBC cast him as Heathcliff in a serialisation of Wuthering Heights (1978) and he brilliantly captured the rough magic of the character. In the 80s he was seen less, although he had a regular role as the boss in children’s series Murphy’s Mob (1982). Since then he has appeared inevitably in shows like The Bill (1984). His great strength is an incredible ability with accents, and super comic timing, but he is also excellent at conveying menace. A riveting screen presence, Hutchison is long overdue for recognition as a treasure for British drama, a talent which his own country has rarely recognised.

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Richard Denning

Richard Denning (March 27, 1914 – October 11, 1998) was an American actor best known for starring in science fiction films of the 1950s, including Unknown Island (1948), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Target Earth (1954), Day the World Ended (1955), Creature with the Atom Brain (1955), and The Black Scorpion (1957). Denning also appeared in the film An Affair to Remember (1957) with Cary Grant and on radio with Lucille Ball in My Favorite Husband (1948–1951), the forerunner of television’s I Love Lucy.

Denning was born as Louis Albert Heindrich Denninger Jr., in Poughkeepsie, New York. When he was 18 months old, his family moved to Los Angeles. After attending Manual Arts College, he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Woodbury Business College in Los Angeles. Plans called for him to take over his father’s garment manufacturing business, but he developed an interest in acting.  Denning enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II and served on submarines.

Denning became an actor, best known for his recurring starring roles in various science fiction and horror films of the 1950s.

On radio, Denning starred with Lucille Ball in CBS’s My Favorite Husband, which led to a role on CBS television’s series adaptation of Mr. and Mrs. North.

On television, he starred as the title character in the 1950 syndicated adventure series Ding Howe and the Flying Tigers. He was cast as Dr. Greg Graham in the 1959 series, The Flying Doctor. He also starred as the title character in the detective series Michael Shayne (1960–1961) and shared title billing with Barbara Britton in the detective series Mr. and Mrs. North (1952–1954).

In 1964-1965, Denning played Steve Scott in the comedy series Karen. In later life, he had a recurring role as the fictitious governor of Hawaii, Paul Jameson, in the CBS television crime drama series, Hawaii Five-O (1968–1980), starring Jack Lord.

He appeared three times on the ABC religion anthology series Crossroads, as Dr. Ira Langston in “Chinese Checkers” (1955) and as the Reverend George Bolton in “The Bowery Bishop” and as the Reverend Lloyd E. Williams in “The Pure White Orchid” (both 1956). According to Denning, his military service effectively disrupted his acting career, and after his discharge from military service it would be another year and a half before Paramount Pictures offered Denning any more acting work. During that time period, Denning and his family lived in a mobile home that he alternately parked at Malibu and Palm Springs.

Denning’s period of unemployment ended when he was hired to star on the radio opposite Lucille Ball in My Favorite Husband. The CBS Radio sitcom ran for 124 episodes from July 23, 1948 through March 31, 1951 and would evolve into the groundbreaking television sitcom I Love Lucy. CBS wanted Denning to continue on as the husband in the new television sitcom but Lucille Ball insisted that her real life husband, Desi Arnaz, play the part.

In other activity on radio, Denning played Uncle Jack in It’s a Crime, Mr. Collins (1956-1957) on the Mutual Broadcasting System.  He also was the second actor to play Jerry North in the radio version of Mr. and Mrs. North.

Denning later appeared in several ‘B’ crime drama films before starring in a number of science fiction and horror films. In 1957, he began the first of what would become a steady series of television appearances, usually as a supporting character, though he did star briefly in two television dramas, The Flying Doctor (1959), and Michael Shayne (1960–61).

In 1968, Denning completed his last film, a comedy titled I Sailed to Tahiti with an All-Girl Crew. Semi-retired and living on the island of Maui with his wife, Denning was contacted by producer Leonard Freeman, who offered him the supporting role as the governor of Hawaii in the TV detective series, Hawaii Five-O. In order to persuade Denning to sign on in the recurring role, Freeman guaranteed Denning five-hour days and a four-day work week.

Denning has a star at 6932 Hollywood Boulevard in the Television section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was dedicated on February 8, 1960.

Denning’s wife Evelyn Ankers

In 1942, Denning married 1940s horror film queen Evelyn Ankers  (co-star of The Wolf ManGhost of Frankenstein and Son of Dracula), who retired from films at the age of 32 after they were married. He and Ankers had a daughter, Diana Denning (later Dwyer).  After Ankers’ death from cancer in 1985, Denning remarried, to Patricia Leffingwell. Denning died of a heart attack at the age of 84 on October 11, 1998 while visiting relatives in Southern California. Denning and Ankers are buried at Makawao Veterans’ Cemetery in Makawao, Hawaii.

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Timothy Bottoms

Timothy Bottoms (born August 30, 1951) is an American actor and film producer. He is best known for playing the lead in Johnny Got His Gun; Sonny Crawford in The Last Picture Show where he and his fellow co-stars, Cybill Shepherd and Jeff Bridges, rose to fame; as James Hart, the first-year law student who battles with Prof. Kingsfield, in the film adaptation The Paper Chase; and for playing President George W. Bush multiple times, including on the sitcom That’s My Bush! and in the comedy film The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course and the docudrama DC 9/11: Time of Crisis.

Bottoms was born in Santa Barbara, California, the eldest of four sons of Betty (née Chapman) and James “Bud” Bottoms, who is a sculptor and art teacher. 

Bottoms made his film debut in 1971 as Joe Bonham in Dalton Trumbo‘s Johnny Got His Gun. The same year, he appeared alongside his brother Sam in The Last Picture Show. (He portrayed the same character in the 1990 sequel Texasville). In 1973’s The Paper Chase, he starred as Harvard law student Hart facing the fearsome Professor Kingsfield (John Houseman). Among the other films he has appeared in are Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973), The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder (1974), Operation Daybreak (1975), A Small Town in Texas (1976), Rollercoaster (1977) Hurricane (1979), Invaders from Mars (1986) and Elephant (2003).

As a result of both a physical resemblance to  U.S. President George W. Bush and an ability to impersonate his voice, Bottoms has portrayed Bush in three widely varying productions. In 2000 and 2001, he played a parody of Bush in the Comedy Central sitcom That’s My Bush!; he subsequently appeared as Bush in a cameo appearance in the family film The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course. Finally, following the September 11 attacks, Bottoms once again played Bush, this time in a serious fashion, in the TV film DC 9/11: Time of Crisis, one of the first films to be based upon the attacks.

During an episode of the Fox television show That ’70s Show in which a tornado warning has been issued and the students of the high school are trapped, Bottoms is seen as the panicking principal. He appeared in a recurring role during the first season of the FX series Dirt as Gibson Horne, who owned the magazine that series main character Lucy Spillerworked for.

He also co-produced the documentary Picture This – The Times of Peter Bogdanovich in Archer City, Texas (1991), a behind-the-scenes work about the making of the films The Last Picture Show and Texasville. In the documentary, he revealed that he had a crush on his co-star Cybill Shepherd during The Last Picture Show, but she did not reciprocate his romantic feelings, even though she said in a separate interview that she found him “very attractive”.  He was also heavily featured in the Metallica video for “One“, which featured footage of the film Johnny Got His Gun.

He is the eldest brother of actors Joseph Bottoms (born 1954), Sam Bottoms (1955–2008) and Ben Bottoms (born 1960). In 1967, Bottoms toured Europe as part of the Santa Barbara Madrigal Society.

Sam Bottoms died from brain cancer in 2008.

Bottoms married twice. His first marriage to folksinger Alicia Cory in 1975 produced one son Bartholomew, before ending in divorce in 1978. His second marriage to Marcia Moreheart in 1984 produced three children: Bodie, Bridget, and Benton

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William Lundigan

William Lundigan (June 12, 1914 – December 20, 1975) was an American film actor. His more than 125 films[1] include Dodge City(1939), The Fighting 69th (1940), The Sea Hawk (1940), Santa Fe Trail (1940), Dishonored Lady (1947), Pinky (1949), Love Nest (1951) with Marilyn MonroeThe House on Telegraph Hill (1951), I’d Climb the Highest Mountain (1951) and Inferno (1953).

Growing up in Syracuse, New York, Lundigan was the oldest of four sons. His father, Michael F. Lundigan, owned a shoe store (at which Lundigan worked)[4] in the same building as a local radio station, WFBL. Becoming fascinated by radio, he was playing child roles on radio and producing radio plays at 16.

A graduate of Nottingham High School, Lundigan studied law at Syracuse University, earning money as a radio announcer at WFBL. He graduated and passed the bar examinationbefore events changed his career path. Charles Rogers, a Universal Pictures production chief, heard Lundigan’s voice, met him, arranged a screen test and signed him to a motion picture contract in 1937.

He was in Armored Car (1937) billed as “Larry Parker”. Then his name was changed to “William Lundigan” for West Bound Limited (1937).

Lundigan was billed third in The Lady Fights Back (1937) then promoted to male lead for That’s My Story! (1937). He was back down the cast list for The Black Doll (1938) and Reckless Living (1938) but was the male lead for State Police (1938). He had support parts in Wives Under Suspicion (1938) directed by James WhaleDanger on the Air (1938), The Missing Guest (1938), and Freshman Year (1938).

Lundigan was one of the romantic leads in Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939). He was borrowed by Warners for a support part in Dodge City (1939).

Lundigan was top billed in They Asked for It (1939) then was Sigrid Gurie’s leading man in The Forgotten Woman (1939). He supported in Legion of Lost Flyers (1939). He said “nothing much happened” of his time at Universal and left the studio.

Lundigan signed with Warner Bros, where he had support roles in The Old Maid (1939), The Fighting 69th (1940), 3 Cheers for the Irish (1940), The Man Who Talked Too Much (1940), Young America Flies (1940, a short), The Sea Hawk (1940), Service with the Colors (1940, a short), East of the River (1940), and Santa Fe Trail (1940).

Lundigan later described this period as “I was always turning up as Olivia de Havilland’s weak brother. Well, I got in a rut – that old bugaboo, type casting – and made one quickie after another.”

Warners promoted him to the lead of some “B”s, The Case of the Black Parrot (1941) and A Shot in the Dark (1941); he was support in The Great Mr. Nobody (1941), Highway West(1941) and International Squadron (1941).

Lundigan then had a lead in Sailors on Leave (1941) for Republic Pictures.

Lundigan went to MGM where he had support roles in The Bugle Sounds (1942) and The Courtship of Andy Hardy (1942). He was promoted to the lead of a “B”, Sunday Punch (1942) and had the second lead in Apache Trail (1942) and Northwest Rangers (1942).

He reprised his role from the Andy Hardy series in Andy Hardy’s Double Life (1942) and supported in Dr. Gillespie’s Criminal Case (1943) and Salute to the Marines (1943). Republic asked him back to play the lead in Headin’ for God’s Country (1943).

He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps for World War II and served as a combat cameraman in the Battle of Peleliu and the Battle of Okinawa, returning at war’s end as a Corporal. He was wounded on Okinawa.

Lundigan returned to Hollywood and tried freelancing. He had support roles in some independent movies, The Fabulous Dorseys (1947) and Dishonored Lady (1947). He was the leading man in Republic’s The Inside Story (1948) and was top billed in Mystery in Mexico (1948), State Department: File 649 (1948) and Follow Me Quietly (1949). He decided to try acting on stage and was cast by John Ford in a revival of What Price Glory?.

Lundigan’s career revived when he successfully auditioned for the role of Jeanne Crain‘s romantic interest in Pinky (1949) at 20th Century Fox, initially directed by Ford (Elia Kazan took over). The movie was a huge hit and the studio signed him to a long term contract. He went on to be leading man to Dorothy McGuire in Mother Didn’t Tell Me (1950), June Haver in I’ll Get By (1950) and Love Nest (1951), Susan Hayward in I’d Climb the Highest Mountain (1951).

He was also in The House on Telegraph Hill (1951) and Elopement (1951), and was the male lead in Down Among the Sheltering Palms (1952) and Serpent of the Nile (1953). The New York Times called him “the male counterpart to the girl next door”.

He had a good part in Inferno 

In an episode of Desilu Playhouse, “K.O. Kitty”, L-R: William Lundigan, Aldo Ray, and Lucille Ball (1958).

Lundigan began appearing on TV shows like Lux Video TheatreSchlitz PlayhouseGeneral Electric TheaterThe Ford Television Theatre, and The Star and the Story and was host for Climax! and Shower of Stars.

He had the lead in some low budget films like Riders to the Stars (1954), Terror Ship (1954) and The White Orchid (1954), the latter for Reginald Le Borg. He mostly worked on television now, such as episodes of Science Fiction TheatrePlayhouse 90 and Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, and travelled the country extensively selling automobiles.

From September 30, 1959, to September 7, 1960, Lundigan portrayed Col. Edward McCauley in the CBS television seriesMen into Space.

In 1961, Lundigan was cast as Nathaniel Norgate in the episode, “Dangerous Crossing”, on the syndicated anthology seriesDeath Valley Days, hosted by Stanley Andrews. The story focuses on religious settlers who encounter outlaws operating an illegal tollgate.

He had the lead in The Underwater City (1962) and guest starred on The Dick Powell Theatre Run for Your LifeMedical Center and Marcus Welby, M.D.. His last film was The Way West (1967).

In 1963 and 1964, Lundigan joined fellow actors Walter BrennanChill Wills, and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., in making appearances on behalf of U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater, the Republican nominee in the campaign against U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Lundigan himself waged an unsuccessful campaign for a nominally non-partisan seat on the Los Angeles City Council.

Lundigan married Rena Morgan, and they had a daughter, Anastasia.[2]

Lundigan died at the age of 61 of apparent heart failure at City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, California in 1975.

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Glenda Jackson

Glenda Jackson
Glenda Jackson

RADA-trained Glenda Jackson was shaped by her work with the Royal Shakespeare Company which she joined in 1964 and specifically by director Peter Brook’s experimental Theatre of Cruelty season that year and its Antoine Artaud-influenced improvisational games. She won acclaim for her chilling performance as an asylum inmate portraying Danton’s murderer Charlotte Corday in the 1965 London and New York productions of “Marat/Sade”, staged by Brook. And although she made a brief screen appearance as an extra in “This Sporting Life” (1963), her first significant film work was reprising the role of Corday in Brook’s 1967 screen version of “Marat/Sade”, perhaps auguring the many neurotics she has so brilliantly portrayed on stage and film.

Plain-featured but striking looking, with a gift for conveying blistering disgust or contempt with her curled lip, her clipped, almost spitting delivery and her cold stare, Jackson has nonetheless played a wide range of roles from queens, romantics, seductresses and sensualists to independent women and intellectuals; she has excelled at portraying high-strung, strong-willed and sexually rapacious women in notable films by such directors as Ken Russell (“The Music Lovers” 1971), John Schlesinger (“Sunday, Bloody Sunday” 1973) and Joseph Losey (“The Romantic Englishwoman” 1975).

Jackson won two Best Actress Oscars, for her roles in Russell’s D.H. Lawrence adaptation, “Women in Love” (1970) and for her change of pace performance in Melvin Frank’s light romantic comedy “A Touch of Class” (1973). She also won two Emmys for her portrait of Queen Elizabeth I from youth to old age on the series “Elizabeth R” (shown in the USA on PBS in 1972).

Jackson made an assured switch to middle-aged roles in the mid-1970s, beginning with the Hepburn-Tracy style comedy, “House Calls” (1978), opposite Walter Matthau. In 1992, Jackson won a seat in the British Parliament as a member of the Labour Party and retired from acting.

In 2019 she made a comeback to acting.

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Robin Sachs

Robin Sachs

‘Telegraph” obituary.

Robin Sachs, the actor, who has died aged 61, appeared as “an Etonian” in the ITV series Brideshead Revisited in 1981 but went on to greater things in America, taking on the role of Ethan Rayne in Joss Whedon’s cult television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, appearing in Babylon 5 and providing voices for SpongeBob SquarePants and for Zaeed Massani in the sci-fi video games Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect

Robin Sachs
Robin Sachs CREDIT: Photo: GETTY 

Sachs was best known in the role of Ethan Rayne, and built up a substantial fan base for his portrayal of an apparently benevolent owner of a costume shop who, in reality, is a master of the black arts, a skilled sorcerer, “chaos” magician and arch-enemy of Giles (played by Anthony Head) and the Scooby Gang.

Robin Sachs was born in London on February 5 1951, the son of the actors Leonard Sachs (famous as the chairman of The Good Old Days) and Eleanor Summerfield. After leaving school he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, then did the rounds of the provincial repertory circuit before graduating to the West End, where he had small parts in Pirandello’s Henry IV, with Rex Harrison; Pinero’s Gay Lord Quex, with Judi Dench, directed by Sir John Gielgud; Pericles, with Derek Jacobi; and The Astronomer’s Garden by Kevin Hood.

He appeared in numerous British television dramas, including Upstairs Downstairs, Rumpole of the Bailey, Quiller and Gentlemen and Players; he was also the secret agent Hugh Roskill in the 1983 television series Chessgame. His first film role was as a vampire twin in Hammer’s Vampire Circus (1972). He played Thomas Culpepper, Catherine Howard’s lover in Henry VIII and his Six Wives (1972), and featured in The Disappearance (1977) alongside Donald Sutherland.

In the early 1990s he moved to Los Angeles after being invited to appear as a guest-star on the television series Jake and the Fatman and to take over the role of Adam Carrington in the miniseries Dynasty Reunion. 

Sachs remained in the United States, guest starring in many television series. His later film credits include roles in Spielberg’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Soderbergh’s remake of Ocean’s Eleven (2001). He worked on several sci-fi shows, including Star Trek and Torchwood, and in 1999 appeared disguised under layers of heavy make-up as the evil General Sarris in the satirical comedy Galaxy Quest, co-starring Sigourney Weaver . In 2002 he was Peter Brazier, CEO of Nexexcon in Megalodon.

Although Sachs made his last appearance on Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 2000, he remained popular with Buffy fans, making regular appearances at Buffy conventions around the world.

He was twice married, first to the Welsh actress Siân Phillips, and secondly to the American actress Casey Defranco. Both marriages were dissolved.

Robin Sachs, born February 5 1951, died February 1 2013

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Hume Cronyn

“Guardian” obituary from 2003

Hume Cronyn

Unlike these two other pairings, they were an odd couple physically – she was angular and imposing; he was short and weedy. The English-born Tandy’s voice was clear and piercing; the Canadian Cronyn’s voice was nasal and querulous. But following their marriage in 1942 (two years after Tandy’s divorce from Jack Hawkins), they appeared in scores of plays and half a dozen films together. Each also had their own distinguished careers. 

Cronyn was born in London, Ontario, into one of Canada’s most prominent families. His father, Hume Blake Cronyn, was a leading banker and politician, and his mother, Frances Labatt, was connected with the Labatt brewery. After a strict but privileged upbringing, he studied law at McGill University, Montreal, where he acted in student productions before going on to the American Academy of Dramatic Art. During the war, he produced, directed and appeared in revue for the Canadian active services canteen and toured US military camps. 

It was Alfred Hitchcock who gave Cronyn his first screen role in Shadow Of A Doubt (1943), playing Herbie Hawkins, an oddball neighbour obsessed with murder who does not know that the family next door is housing a real killer. The same year, in The Cross Of Lorraine, Cronyn played a French PoW discovered to be spying for the Germans; he is exposed by his fellow inmates and shot by the guards. It was the first of his many weasel parts, though an accident nearly prevented him from having any future career at all. 

During the filming of Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944), in which Cronyn was the meek radio operator, he was dragged under the water of the studio tank and almost drowned while trapped beneath a boat. Happily, he was saved by a lifeguard whom Hitchcock had posted near the tank for just such an eventuality. 

Cronyn was nominated for an Oscar for his role as the friend of concentration camp escapee Spencer Tracy in Fred Zinnemann’s The Seventh Cross (1944), in which Tandy – in her first film – played his wife. She then played his daughter (though she was two years older than him) in The Green Years (1946), based on AJ Cronin’s novel. Variety magazine claimed that he “wreaks every bit of tightfistedness and little-man meanness out of the role of head of the house that takes the small boy in”. 

Better still was Cronyn’s performance in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), as the unctuous attorney who successfully defends the illicit lovers (Lana Turner and John Garfield) on a murder charge, a character closer to the spirit of the James Cain novel than anyone else in the film. 

At the same time, Cronyn had been appearing spasmodically in films, notably playing Louis Howe, the asthmatic friend of President Franklin Roosevelt (Ralph Bellamy) in Sunrise At Campobello (1960), Deborah Kerr’s divorce lawyer in Elia Kazan’s The Arrangement (1969) and one of a homosexual couple in Mankewicz’s There Was A Crooked Man (1970). 

After convincingly playing the scientist Robert Oppenheimer in The Beginning Of The End (1947), a documentary-style story about the making of the first atomic bomb, Cronyn returned to “little-man meanness” in Jules Dassin’s powerful prison drama Brute Force (also 1947); second billed after Burt Lancaster, his sadistic warden is a chilling portrait of evil. Another odious character was his snivelling anatomy professor in Joseph Mankiewicz’s People Will Talk (1951), playing Cary Grant’s adversarial colleague who feels more at home dissecting corpses than talking to humans. 

After this, Cronyn and Tandy decided to concentrate on theatre for the next two decades. Two of those years were taken up on Broadway in Jan de Hartog’s two-hander The Fourposter, which followed a couple from their wedding night to old age and death. The fact that the two stars were actually married gave their expert performances an extra poignancy. 

Subsequently, they alternated between Broadway, regional theatres, Stratford, Ontario, and the Tyrone Guthrie theatre in Minneapolis, where they appeared mostly in the classics, with Cronyn taking on Shylock, Bottom, Richard III, Harpagon in Molière’s The Miser, and Willie Loman (opposite Tandy) in Death Of A Salesman. 

In 1964, Cronyn received a Tony and the New York drama critics’ award for his Polonius – a part he was born to play – in John Gielgud’s production of Hamlet, with Richard Burton in the title role. In the 1970s, he and Tandy, who were elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1974, played a loveless couple in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance, and inmates of an old people’s home in The Gin Game, in New York and London. 

It was in the 1980s, however, that Cronyn and Tandy were discovered by a new generation of filmgoers when they appeared as an eccentric elderly couple in several movies, particularly Cocoon (1985) and its sequel, Batteries Not Included (1987), in which they fight a greedy estate agent with the help of aliens. After Tandy’s death in 1994, Cronyn continued to work, most especially in Marvin’s Room (1996), where, as Leonardo DiCaprio’s dying grandfather, he was almost wordless, but as eloquent as ever. 

He is survived by his second wife, Susan Cooper, three children from his first marriage and two stepchildren. 

· Hume Cronyn, actor, born July 18 1911; died June 15 2003

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Charles Vance

Charles Vance

Charles Vance certainly made his mark on the Theatre World and launched the careers of many both on and off stage. With a passion for all he did and a pride in his work, we honour the late Charles Vance who during a career spanning over 40 years produced over 180 pantomimes.

Charles Vance, a self styled anarchronism and a leading champion of rep theatre giving  hundreds of actors, stage managers and designers their first opportunities in the world of the professional theatre. He enjoyed his role as the last of the old-time actor managers, often seen at first nights with a silver-topped cane, once owned by the redoubtable Victorian actor Henry Irving, and wearing a  green velvet jacket. There was always something raffish about Vance, who was proud of his origins as an Irish Jew, the son of a dealer in leather goods and the nephew of Harold Goldblatt, who founded the Ulster Group Players. At the age of seven, he was heard on BBC Radio’s Children’s Hour. At Queen’s University, Belfast,  where he read law, he joined its amateur dramatic club, which he found mediocre. He first appeared onstage at the city’s Grand Opera House. After university, he joined a theatre company

that toured Ireland with the plays of Shakespeare. There followed a spell at the Gate, in Dublin, which he described as “like going to heaven”.

After a prolific career as an actor, Vance launched his own production company in 1960 with his wife Imogen Moynihan, the daughter of the distinguished Liberal peer, the second Lord Moynihan. Their first production was Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, which was staged at the Empire Theatre, now the Little, in the Norfolk resort of Sheringham.

Their first full season followed a year later at the new Civic Theatre in Chelmsford. There were further seasons in Torquay, Cambridge, Eastbourne, Hastings, Weston-super-Mare, Whitby, Wolverhampton and at the Leas Pavilion, Folkestone, which Vance bought in 1976. In 1987, he instituted the Summer Play Festival at the Manor Pavilion, Sidmouth, which continued every year until last year, when seat prices forced him to abandon the enterprise.

A typical Sidmouth season was a clever mix of 13 plays, offering something for everyone, including two Rattigan plays – Vance knew the dramatist well – two Ayckbourns, Jane Eyre and Private Lives. Work by Francis Durbridge took the place of Agatha Christie after an international media production company took control of the latter author’s copyright. Throughout a career that lasted nearly 50 years, Vance mounted hundreds of touring productions, ranging from Stop the World –I Want to Get Off to The Merchant of Venice. He produced 180 pantomimes all over Britain, and in the latter part of his life he became known for his world premieres of stage adaptations of Ealing comedies, starting with Kind Hearts and Coronets in 1998.

As a publisher and editor, he founded the British Theatre Directory and was, uniquely, twice president of the Theatrical Management Association.

Charles Vance, who was born Charles Goldblatt on December 6, 1929, died on January 13 at the age of 83

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John Abbott

John Abbott obituary in “The Independent” in 1996 by Tom Vallance.

With his wide, slightly bulging eyes, drooping lower lip and clipped diction, John Abbott was one of the screen’s most distinctive character actors and one of its finest.

A veteran of dozens of performances on stage, screen and television, the British-born actor had a solid background in the theatre before establishing himself as a Hollywood reliable, creating a gallery of often small but memorable roles. His por-trayals in Jane Eyre (1943) and The Woman in White (1947) are often cited when classic suppor-ting performances are discussed.

Born in London in 1905, he was a commercial artist when he substituted for a sick friend in an amateur production which was seen by the actress Sybil Thorndike, who remarked, “Now there is a young man who knows how to make an entrance!” His entrance into the professional theatre came in a London revival of Aurengzebe (1934). Then, after repertory in Watford and Crewe, he was asked by Tyrone Guthrie to join the Old Vic in 1936: the period that followed, including roles as Nathaniel in Love’s Labours Lost and Malvolio in Twelfth Night.

 

In 1937 he was part of the legendary production of Hamlet performed in Elsinore with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, along with Alec Guinness as Osric and Anthony Quayle as Laertes. The cold winds and teeming rain that dogged the company gave added resonance to Claudius’s line, delivered by Abbott, umbrella in hand, “Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens?”.

He made his film debut in Conquest of the Air (1935) and was in an early BBC television production, The Harmfulness of Tobacco in 1937, but concentrated on theatre prior to the outbreak of war, when he was attached to the British Embassy in Stockholm, his work involving coding and decoding.

In 1941 he was in California and about to return to England when he was offered a role in Shanghai Gesture. It was the start of a prolific screen career that included roles in Mrs Miniver (1942),The London Blackout Murders (1942, a rare leading role) and memorably in Jane Eyre as the half-mad brother of the first Mrs Rochester. In The Vampire’s Ghost (1945) he had the leading role as a sympathetic vampire and the following year made his Broadway debut in He Who Gets Slapped.

The 1946-47 period was a prime one for Abbott in Hollywood – he was a member of the court in Anna and the King of Siam (1946), a cellist indignant when Bette Davis tries to bribe him in Deception (also 1946), and best of all, his snivelling, asthmatic Frederick Fairlie, uncle of twin sisters in The Woman In White (1948).

Abbott’s performance in The Woman in White prompted Warners to offer him a long-term contract but he turned it down, preferring to divide his time between Hollywood and Broadway. In 1944 Tennessee Williams had written a one-act play Auto-da-Fe (his only verse play) for Abbott. Other Broadway appearances included Lillian Hellman’s Montsarrat (1948) and Jean Anouilh’s The Waltz of the Toreadors (1957).

Abbott worked steadily until 1987, his films including Madame Bovary (1949), Gigi (1958) as Chevalier’s valet, Gambit (1967), and The Jungle Book (1967) as the voice of one of the wolves, and his prolific television work including The Man from Uncle, Bewitched, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Then he retired, stating: “I haven’t the slightest urge ever to work again.” He remained active socially and pursued his interests in art and music.

In 1944 he had been offered a leading role on Broadway in Mary Chase’s Harvey, but argued that the writer was wrong to have the play’s imaginary six-foot rabbit visible on stage and left the production. Later Chase followed his advice. When asked about missing this chance of stardom, Abbott maintained he had no regrets: “My goal was always simply to do good work without having to run about looking for jobs.”

Tom Vallance

John Abbott, actor: born London 5 June 1905; died Los Angeles 24 May 1996.

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Arthur O’Connell

O’Connell was born on March 29, 1908 in Manhattan, New York. He made his legitimate stage debut in the middle 1930s, at which time he fell within the orbit of Orson Welles‘ Mercury Theatre. Welles cast O’Connell in the tiny role of a reporter in the closing scenes of Citizen Kane (1941), a film often referred to as O’Connell’s film debut, though in fact he already had appeared in Freshman Year (1938) and had costarred in two Leon Errol short subjects as Errol’s conniving brother-in-law.

After numerous small movie parts, O’Connell returned to Broadway, where he appeared as the middle-aged swain of a spinsterish schoolteacher in Picnic – a role he played in the 1956 film version, earning an Oscar nomination in the process. Later, the jaded looking O’Connell frequently was cast as 40ish losers and alcoholics; in the latter capacity he appeared as James Stewart‘s boozy attorney mentor in Anatomy of a Murder (1959), and the result was a second Oscar nomination.

In 1959, O’Connell also played the part of Chief Petty Officer Sam Tostin, engine room chief of the fictional World War II submarine USS Sea Tiger, opposite Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in Operation Petticoat. In 1961, O’Connell played the role of Grandpa Clarence Beebe in the children’s film Misty, the screen adaptation of Marguerite Henry‘s story of Misty of Chincoteague.  In 1962, he portrayed the father of Elvis Presley‘s character in the motion picture Follow That Dream, and in 1964 in the Presley-picture Kissin’ Cousins. In the same year, O’Connell portrayed the idealist-turned-antagonist Clint Stark in The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, which has become a cult classic, and in which O’Connell’s is the only character other than star Tony Randall to appear as one of the “7 faces.” O’Connell continued appearing in choice character parts on both television and films during the 1960s, but avoided a regular television series, holding out until he could be assured top billing. 

On Christmas Day, 1962, O’Connell was cast as Clayton Dodd in the episode “Green, Green Hills” of the western series Empire, starring Richard Egan as the rancher Jim Redigo. This episode features Dayton Lummis as Jason Simms and Joanna Moore as Althea Dodd. In 1966, he guest-starred as a scientist who regretfully realized that he has created an all-powerful android in an episode of the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, titled “The Mechanical Man.” In the February 1967 episode “Never Look Back” of the TV series Lassie, he played Luther Jennings, an elderly ranger who monitors the survey tower at Strawberry Peak and who takes it hard when he finds he’ll lose his job when the tower is slated for destruction.

Ill health forced O’Connell to reduce his acting appearances in the middle 1970s, but the actor stayed busy as a commercial spokesman, a friendly pharmacist who was a spokesperson for Crest.

At the time of his death from Alzheimer’s disease in California in May 1981, O’Connell was appearing by his own choice solely in these commercials. O’Connell is interred at Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York