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Ian Hendry


Ian Hendry

<Archive obituary><The Times, December 27, 1984>


<Popular television actor>

Ian Hendry, who died in the Royal Free Hospital, London, on December 24 at the age of 53, was an actor who specialized in virile, aggresiveroles, in films of which he had made a substantial number, and more predominantly from the mid 1950s onwards on television.   On the small screen he is especially remembered for his starring roles in popular series like “Police Surgeon” and “The Lotus Eaters.”   Ian Hendry was born in Ipswich on January 13, 1931. His first experience of the world of theatre was when as a part-time drama student he worked in cabaret as a stooge to Coco the Clown. Later, after National Service in the Royal Artillery he trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

From here he began a life in rep at Hornchurch and Worthing and was seen in Goldoni’s “Servant of Two Masters” at the Edinburgh Festival.   He also had film parts in “Simon and Laura” and “The Secret Place” at this period, but it was a successful season at the Oxford Playhouse which brought him to London and to wider notice.   He secured himself a television following in the role of a polio patient in “Emergency Ward 10” and parts in films such as “Sink the Bismarck” and “In the Nick” further established him.

He became a sought after television actor, appearing in such series as “Probation Officer” and “The Avengers” of which he was one of the original trio, and “Police Surgeon”. But perhaps one of his most characteristic roles was as Erik Shepherd the tortured alcoholic trying to pull the threads of life together in “The Lotus Eaters” in the 1970s.

Hendry’s own tempestuous and hard drinking personal life often seemed to echo his screen one, and the breakdown of his second marriage to the actress Janet Munro who was to have played his wife in the series, as it was about to go into production, threatened the entire venture when she withdrew from the role. She died from drink related problems in 1972 aged only 38.

In spite of more leading television roles and a series of films which included “Casino Royale”, “Get Carter”, “Theatre of Blood” and “The Bitch” Hendry’s life continued to have its ups and downs and in 1980 he was declared a bankrupt, later on being discharged on payment of his debts, thanks to his securing a major role in the television series “Maddie for Love” in which he starred with Nyree Dawn Porter.   Hendry’s first marriage to Joanna, a makeup artist, had been dissolved in 1962. His third marriage was to Sandy Jones, a former children’s nanny, who survives him.


Martin Landau

Martin Landeau
Martin Landau


“Guardian” obituary:

In the first three series of the television show Mission: Impossible (1966-69), Martin Landau, who has died aged 89, played the ace impersonator Rollin Hand, one of the specialists used by the Impossible Missions Force. Hand was described as a “man of a million faces”. Landau’s own face was instantly recognisable, with its haunted eyes, wide mouth and furrowed brow; even when he broke into a smile, he could seem to be frowning.

Landau was disguised beneath heavy makeup for his best known film role, as the horror actor Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood (1994), Tim Burton’s biopic of the cross-dressing director of trashy movies. Landau’s Lugosi is a tragicomic creation: his wife has left him, he is addicted to morphine and most of Hollywood thinks he is dead. “This business, this town,” he sighs, “it chews you up and then spits you out. I’m just an ex-bogeyman.”

Landau would have known where Lugosi was coming from. After Mission: Impossible, he had been largely typecast, appearing in genre fare with titles that would have shamed Wood himself (such as The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island, 1981).

But his career was rehabilitated by three films for quality directors: Francis Ford Coppola’s Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) and Ed Wood. All three earned Landau Oscar nominations for best supporting actor; the third resulted in victory (over Samuel L Jackson and Paul Scofield, among others). Lugosi was, he said in his speech, “the part of my life”.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Martin was the son of Jewish parents, Morris, an Austrian-born machinist who attempted a career as a singer, and his wife, Selma. After attending James Madison high school and Pratt Institute, he was employed from the age of 17 as a cartoonist on the Daily News. He worked on Billy Rose’s syndicated column Pitching Horseshoes and assisted Gus Edson on the comic strip The Gumps.

Although offered promotion at 22, he decided to leave the newspaper and concentrate on acting. He juggled a dozen roles in summer stock in New England and auditioned for the Actors Studio in New York: Landau and Steve McQueenwere the only two hopefuls admitted from a batch of 2,000 applicants in 1955. That year was overshadowed by the death in a road accident of Landau’s best friend, James Dean, whom he had met at a TV audition years before.

At the Actors Studio, Landau was taught by the best – Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan, Harold Clurman – and began a relationship with a fellow student, Marilyn Monroe. They split up after several months; Landau found Monroe too complicated and was defeated by her frequent costume changes on their dates. When he became a teacher himself, Landau’s students included Jack Nicholson, Anjelica Huston and Harry Dean Stanton. With Mark Rydell, he later ran the Hollywood-based branch of the Actors Studio, set up in 1967.

After a handful of TV appearances, Landau broke into film when Alfred Hitchcock saw him on stage in Los Angeles in a touring production of Paddy Chayefsky’s Middle of the Night and cast him opposite Cary Grant in North By Northwest (1959). When Landau asked why he had been chosen for the role of James Mason’s right-hand man, Hitchcock replied: “Martin, you have a circus going on inside you.” Landau decided to make the character gay, adding an extra dimension to the relationship between boss and henchman.

He came to specialise in a particular type of unsettling, debonair heavy. In the epic Cleopatra (1963), Landau was General Rufio, hailing Rex Harrison’s Caesar and doing his dirty work (consulting the auguries, finding the rest of the decapitated Pompey) and later memorably pleading with a bathing Elizabeth Taylor from behind a screen. He had a considerable amount of screen time, yet claimed his best scenes were left on the cutting-room floor.Later came a part as the Jewish high priest Caiaphas in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) and horse operas big and small, including Nevada Smith (1966   ) with McQueen. In the comedy western The Hallelujah Trail (1965) he was a deadpan Sioux tribesman, Chief Walks-Stooped-Over, leading an attack on a wagon train in a fierce sandstorm.

Mission: Impossible brought him primetime exposure and an opportunity to work with his wife, the actor Barbara Bain, whom he had married in 1957. The pilot episode found Rollin Hand disguised as a dictator bent on nuclear destruction. After more than 70 episodes, three Emmy nominations and a Golden Globes award, Landau left the series after a contract dispute.

In They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970), he was a preacher caught up in a murder investigation undertaken by Sidney Poitier. The film gave him a fiery sermon, delivered with wild eyes and abundant sweat before a packed congregation.

He and Bain moved to Britain to star in the TV series Space: 1999 (1975-77), created by the husband-and-wife team of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Landau was John Koenig, the commander of Moonbase Alpha, a character with integrity, humanity and authority. He was proud of how topical events were mirrored in the plots (one episode paralleled Henry Kissinger’s role in the Middle East) but he felt the series became increasingly silly.

After leaving the show, Landau drifted in disappointing material for 10 years. Then came Tucker: The Man and His Dream and a role to savour. Landau excelled as Abe, a financier who hustles up the money for an engineer, Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges), to create “the car of tomorrow, today”. Previously, Landau’s height had mostly been imposing. As Abe, he walked with a hunch, as if carrying the weight of his past. Always complaining, Abe is the antithesis of the exuberant Tucker – the same dynamic would exist between Landau and Johnny Depp’s characters in Ed Wood.

It was not a box-office hit, but Coppola’s film put Landau back on the map and he was rewarded with a rich and unusually large role in Crimes and Misdemeanors. Allen cast Landau as Judah Rosenthal, who intercepts a letter from his mistress to his wife and, after grappling with his conscience, sanctions his mobster brother to arrange a professional hit. Judah is an ophthalmologist who feels the “eyes of God” upon him; and Landau’s troubled gaze, upon hearing that his brother has taken care of the situation, is the film’s defining image. Offset by a comic plot involving Allen and Alan Alda, Landau’s performance is full of anxiety and panic. Unusually for an Allen film, Landau was shown the whole script before filming began (Allen’s actors often just see their section). He told Allen that viewers must be able to identify with Judah, and the character was adapted accordingly.

Another challenging part, as the Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in the TV movie Max and Helen (1990), earned him a phone call from Wiesenthal: “I have something to say to you. You were perfect.” After big-budget, bland choices, such as Sliver (1993) and Intersection (1994), Ed Wood gave Landau a dream role, if a daunting one.

“It’s a Hungarian morphine addict alcoholic who has mood swings,” he said. “That would be hard enough, but it has to be Bela Lugosi!” Ten years earlier, Landau had played Dracula on stage with the same script that had been used for Lugosi’s theatrical performance as Dracula of the 1920s. Not only did Landau learn a Hungarian accent for Ed Wood, but he spoke the dialogue as if trying to conceal his heavy accent – just as Lugosi had.

After playing Geppetto in a pair of Pinocchio films (1996, 1999) and appearing in the 1998 film of the TV series The X-Files, he took a role in the Capra-esque The Majestic (2001), set against the backdrop of Hollywood in the 50s. On TV, he was Abraham in an all-star biblical epic, In the Beginning (2000), and had recurring roles in Without a Trace and Entourage that brought him Emmy nominations. His greatest later project was the stop-motion animated film Frankenweenie (2012), which reunited him with Burton.

With a heavy accent, Landau was the voice of the sinister science teacher Mr Rzykruski, who terrifies his pupils and has shades of the actor’s knockout performance as Lugosi. In Remember (2015), he played an Auschwitz survivor who helps Christopher Plummer with his revenge mission to track down a former Nazi officer.

Landau and Bain divorced in 1993. He is survived by their daughters, Susan, a writer and producer, and Juliet, an actor.

 Martin Landau, actor, born 20 June 1928; died 15 July 2017


Tim Pigott-Smith

Tim Piggot-Smith
Tim Piggot-Smith

“Guardian” obituary:

The only unexpected thing about the wonderful actor Tim Pigott-Smith, who has died aged 70, was that he never played Iago or, indeed, Richard III. Having marked out a special line in sadistic villainy as Ronald Merrick in his career-defining, Bafta award-winning performance in The Jewel in the Crown (1984), Granada TV’s adaptation for ITV of Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet novels, he built a portfolio of characters both good and bad who were invariably presented with layers of technical accomplishment and emotional complexity.

He emerged as a genuine leading actor in Shakespeare, contemporary plays by Michael Frayn – in Frayn’s Benefactors (1984) he was a malicious, Iago-like journalist undermining a neighbouring college chum’s ambitions as an architect – and Stephen Poliakoff, American classics by Eugene O’Neill and Edward Albee, and as a go-to screen embodiment of high-ranking police officers and politicians, usually served with a twist of lemon and a side order of menace and sarcasm.

He played a highly respectable King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2011, but that performance was eclipsed, three years later, by his subtle, affecting and principled turn in the title role of Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III (soon to be seen in a television version) at the Almeida, in the West End and on Broadway, for which he received nominations in both the Olivier and Tony awards. The play, written in Shakespearean iambics, was set in a futuristic limbo, before the coronation, when Charles refuses to grant his royal assent to a Labour prime minister’s press regulation bill.

The interregnum cliffhanger quality to the show was ideal for Pigott-Smith’s ability to simultaneously project the spine and the jelly of a character, and he brilliantly suggested an accurate portrait of the future king without cheapening his portrayal of him. Although not primarily a physical actor, like Laurence Olivier, he was aware of his attributes, once saying that the camera “does something to my eyes, particularly on my left side in profile”, something to do with the eye being quite low and “being able to see some white underneath the pupil”. It was this physical accident, not necessarily any skill, he modestly maintained, which gave him a menacing look on film and television, “as if I am thinking more than one thing”.

Born in Rugby, Tim was the only child of Harry Pigott-Smith, a journalist, and his wife Margaret (nee Goodman), a keen amateur actor, and was educated at Wyggeston boys’ school in Leicester and – when his father was appointed to the editorship of the Herald in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1962 – King Edward VI grammar school, where Shakespeare was a pupil. Attending the Royal Shakespeare theatre, he was transfixed by John Barton and Peter Hall’s Wars of the Roses production, and the actors: Peggy Ashcroft, with whom he would one day appear in The Jewel in the Crown, Ian Holm and David Warner. He took a part‑time job in the RSC’s paint shop.

At Bristol University he gained a degree in English, French and drama (1967), and at the Bristol Old Vic theatre school he graduated from the training course (1969) alongside Jeremy Irons and Christopher Biggins as acting stage managers in the Bristol Old Vic company. He joined the Prospect touring company as Balthazar in Much Ado with John Neville and Sylvia Syms and then as the Player King and, later, Laertes to Ian McKellen’s febrile Hamlet. Back with the RSC he played Posthumus in Barton’s fine 1974 production of Cymbeline and Dr Watson in William Gillette’s Sherlock Holmes, opposite John Wood’s definitive detective, at the Aldwych and on Broadway. He further established himself in repertory at Birmingham, Cambridge and Nottingham.

He was busy in television from 1970, appearing in two Doctor Who sagas, The Claws of Axos (1971) and The Masque of Mandragora (1976), as well as in the first of the BBC’s adaptations of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South (1975, as Frederick Hale; in the second, in 2004, he played Hale’s father, Richard). His first films were Jack Gold’s Aces High (1976), adapted by Howard Barker from RC Sherriff’s Journey’s End, and Tony Richardson’s Joseph Andrews (1977). His first Shakespeare leads were in the BBC’s Shakespeare series – Angelo in Measure for Measure and Hotspur in Henry IV Part One (both 1979).

A long association with Hall began at the National Theatre in 1987, when he played a coruscating half-hour interrogation scene with Maggie Smith in Hall’s production of Coming in to Land by Poliakoff; he was a Dostoeyvskyan immigration officer, Smith a desperate, and despairing, Polish immigrant. In Hall’s farewell season of Shakespeare’s late romances in 1988, he led the company alongside Michael Bryant and Eileen Atkins, playing a clenched and possessed Leontes in The Winter’s Tale; an Italianate, jesting Iachimo in Cymbeline; and a gloriously drunken Trinculo in The Tempest (he played Prospero for Adrian Nobleat the Theatre Royal, Bath, in 2012).

The Falstaff on television when he played Hotspur was Anthony Quayle, and he succeeded this great actor, whom he much admired as director of the touring Compass Theatre in 1989, playing Brutus in Julius Caesar and Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. When the Arts Council cut funding to Compass, he extended his rogue’s gallery with a sulphurous Rochester in Fay Weldon’s adaptation of Jane Eyre, on tour and at the Playhouse, in a phantasmagorical production by Helena Kaut-Howson, with Alexandra Mathie as Jane (1993); and, back at the NT, as a magnificent, treacherous Leicester in Howard Daviesremarkable revival of Schiller’s Mary Stuart (1996) with Isabelle Huppert as a sensual Mary and Anna Massey a bitterly prim Elizabeth.

In that same National season, he teamed with Simon Callow (as Face) and Josie Lawrence (as Doll Common) in a co-production by Bill Alexander for the Birmingham Rep of Ben Jonson’s trickstering, two-faced masterpiece The Alchemist; he was a comically pious Subtle in sackcloth and sandals. He pulled himself together as a wryly observant Larry Slade in one of the landmark productions of the past 20 years: O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh at the Almeida in 1998, transferring to the Old Vic, and to Broadway, with Kevin Spacey as the salesman Hickey revisiting the last chance saloon where Pigott-Smith propped up the bar with Rupert Graves, Mark Strong and Clarke Peters in Davies’ great production.

He and Davies combined again, with Helen Mirren and Eve Best, in a monumental NT revival (designed by Bob Crowley) of O’Neill’s epic Mourning Becomes Electrain 2003. Pigott-Smith recycled his ersatz “Agamemnon” role of the returning civil war hero, Ezra Mannon, as the real Agamemnon, fiercely sarcastic while measuring a dollop of decency against weasel expediency, in Euripides’ Hecuba at the Donmar Warehouse in 2004. In complete contrast, his controlled but hilarious Bishop of Lax in Douglas Hodge’s 2006 revival of Philip King’s See How They Runat the Duchess suggested he had done far too little outright comedy in his career.

Television roles after The Jewel in the Crown included the titular chief constable, John Stafford, in The Chief (1990-93) and the much sleazier chief inspector Frank Vickers in The Vice (2001-03). On film, he showed up in The Remains of the Day (1993); Paul Greengrass’s Bloody Sunday (2002), a harrowing documentary reconstruction of the protest and massacre in Derry in 1972; as Pegasus, head of MI7, in Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English (2003) and the foreign secretary in the Bond movie Quantum of Solace (2008).

In the last decade of his life he achieved an amazing roster of stage performances, including a superb Henry Higgins, directed by Hall, in Pygmalion (2008); the avuncular, golf-loving entrepreneur Ken Lay in Lucy Prebble’s extraordinary Enron (2009), a play that proved there was no business like big business; the placatory Tobias, opposite Penelope Wilton, in Albee’s A Delicate Balance at the Almeida in 2011; and the humiliated George, opposite his Hecuba, Clare Higgins, in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, at Bath.

At the start of this year he was appointed OBE. His last television appearance came as Mr Sniggs, the junior dean of Scone College, in Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall, starring Jack Whitehall. He had been due to open as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman in Northampton prior to a long tour.

Pigott-Smith was a keen sportsman, loved the countryside and wrote four short books, three of them for children.

In 1972 he married the actor Pamela Miles. She survives him, along with their son, Tom, a violinist, and two grandchildren, Imogen and Gabriel.

Timothy Peter Pigott-Smith, actor, born 13 May 1946; died 7 April 2017


Norman Wooland

Norman Wooland
Norman Wooland


Wikipedia entry:

Norman Wooland (16 March 1910 – 3 April 1989) was a British character actor who appeared in many major films, including several Shakespearean adaptations. [1]

During World War II he was a junior radio announcer, reporting the news for the BBC.[2] His acting break came when he played Horatio in Laurence Olivier‘s Hamlet (1948), and in which his “fine work” was noted by The New York Times.[3] Then came Catesby in Olivier’s film of Richard III, and Paris in Romeo and Juliet (1954). He also had supporting roles in Quo Vadis (1951), Ivanhoe (1952), Background (1953), The Guns of Navarone (1961), Life for Ruth (1962) and International Velvet (1978).[


Christine Norden

Christine Norden
Christine Norden

“Independent” obituary by David Shipman:

Mary Lydia Thornton (Christine Norden), actress, born Sunderland 28
December 1924, married 1944 Norman Cole (one son), 1947 Jack Clayton,
1953 Mitchell Dodge, 1956 Herbert Hecht, 1980 George Heselden, died
London 21 September 1988.

ChristineNorden occupies a small, but secure, niche in British film   history as Alexander Korda’s first post-war star.   British film-stars of the pre-war period, Gracie Fields and George Formby always excepted, were there courtesy of the stage (Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh) or Hollywood, allowing them to work here (Leslie Howard, Robert Donat). But during the war the British cinema discovered a flock of artists who were genuine box-office attractions, starting with Margaret Lockwood and James Mason. Korda, returning to production in Britain in 1945, had either to filch or borrow these (in this respect he was far more successful with behind-the-camera personnel) or create his own. The first he created was Christine Norden. She was also the last.

The publicity lie was that he spotted her in a cinema queue. Well, they got a lot of press mileage out of it. Picturegoer, Picture Show and the popular press featured her prominently: British moviegoers panted for their first glimpse of her.   Since she was blonde and sexy, and since Miss Lockwood had made this an era of wicked ladies, it was not surprising that Korda chose for her first role that of a devious night-club singer, in Night Beat, but the film itself went out without his London Films logo because he did not think it of a standard to re-introduce his work. Its hero (Ronald Howard) was a cop going bent because of Norden, who is more interested in a ‘you’re my sort’ affair with a slimy night-club owner (Maxwell
Reed): at the climax she sings his favourite song, has a big drunk scene and falls to her death. She and the film were ludicrous, but she, at least, could claim inexperience.

Korda and MGM (since she was technically under contract to both, as he had signed her during his brief association with that company) loaned her the following year to Premier, the company started by the Ostrer brothers after their break from Rank. With Rank, the Ostrers had mined gold with a series of pseudo-Gothic melodramas: but Isle of Paris proved the beginning and end for Premier. Norden played the Second Empire courtesan Cora Pearl, engaged in a duel of whips with the heroine – Beryl Baxter, obviously chosen for her resemblance to Miss Lockwood. The critic CA Lejeune felt that she would be failing in her duty if she discouraged anyone ‘from sharing this unique experience .. . Such stupendous imbecility in a film, delivered with such portentous gravity in such excruciating dialogue, demands a sort of recognition.’

Miss Norden’s hysterical performance could not now be explained by inexperience; Korda gave up on her fifth film for him, Saints and Sinners, a load of blarney co-starring her male equivalent, Kieron Moore, which literally emptied cinemas. She carried on vamping four more times, twice in unabashed B movies, then left to discuss Hollywood offers’. It was true that she had married an American – her second husband had been Jack Clayton, later to direct Room at the Top but American show-business was not too welcoming: in 1960 she did
manage to get a role in a Broadway musical, Tenderloin, but not one which enabled her to get her name on the adverts.

In 1983, the National Film Theatre showed Isle of Paris, and in a flurry of press releases Miss Norden announced that she had no intention of making a comeback. She did, however, appear at the National Film Theatre with a press agent, in a profusion of diamonds and an elaborate pill-box hat, her full-length velvet dress under a riding habit in several shades of green, none of them too different from the paint on the walls of NFT 2. She laughed a little too loudly during the duel scene and the rest of us laughed through all of it.Miss Lejeune was right: for connoisseurs of bad movies it is the most
cherishable of them all.


Theodore Bikel

Theodore Bikel
Theodore Bikel


“Guardian” obituary from 2015:

The actor and folk-singer Theodore Bikel, who has died aged 91, was a multilingual polymath whose career on stage, screen and television stretched across seven decades. As a character actor in film, the thickset Austrian-born Jew was called upon to play a vast range of foreigners, many of them in uniform. But if truth were told, Bikel, who had a fine baritone speaking and singing voice, was given little chance to shine (or sing) in his 50-film career.

More satisfying was his finely toned performance as Tevye the milkman in Fiddler on the Roof, whom he played more than 2,000 times all over the US. Although Zero Mostel originally created the part on Broadway in 1962, and Topol played it in Norman Jewison’s 1971 film, for US theatregoers Bikel became identified as much with the role as Yul Brynner was with The King and I. Bikel, who criticised Mostel for his “improvised shtick”, based Tevye on his grandfather, who had “a similar lively relationship with God”.

Nevertheless, Bikel considered the musical, based on stories by the Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem, “a charming show, but shtetl lite”. Thus there was more sense of tragedy in his one-man show Sholem Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears (2008), in which he sang in English and Yiddish, and in the documentary Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholem Aleichem (2014).

Apart from Fiddler on the Roof, the other Broadway musical with which Bikel was associated was The Sound of Music (1959-63), in which he created the role of Captain von Trapp (played in the film by the more handsome Christopher Plummer). During the out-of-town tryouts for the hit musical, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein felt that the captain should have a song that bids farewell to the Austria he loved. Using Bikel’s guitar-playing and folk-singing talents, they wrote Edelweiss. The simple, patriotic song in waltz time ends with the line: “Bless my homeland for ever.”   However, Bikel had little cause to bless his homeland. Born in Vienna, he fled with his family to Palestine after the Nazi invasion in 1938. His father, an insurance salesman and ardent Zionist, named his son after Theodor Herzl, one of the founders of Zionism. Bikel, who began acting in his teens, providentially made his professional stage debut as a Tsarist village clerk in Tevye the Milkman (1943), based on Aleichem, at the Habimah theatre in Tel Aviv, after which Bikel co-founded the city’s Cameri theatre a few years later.

In 1946, Bikel went to London to study at Rada (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) before getting small roles on the West End stage. One of them happened to catch the attention of Michael Redgrave, who recommended him to Laurence Olivier, at the time directing the first UK production of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire (1949). Bikel was praised in the difficult role of Mitch, the sensitive mother’s boy, who awkwardly courts Blanche Dubois (Vivien Leigh).   His other London stage success was as the Russian colonel in Peter Ustinov’s satire The Love of Four Colonels (1951).

At the same time, Bikel’s film career began with John Huston’s The African Queen (1951) where, at the climax on board ship, he is the unflinching German naval officer prepared to hang Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn for spying. Huston cast him again in Moulin Rouge (1952), in which Bikel has a short scene as King Milo IV of Serbia (miswritten Milan IV on his calling card), one of the first people to buy a painting by Toulouse-Lautrec (José Ferrer). Bikel then cropped up briefly in British war films as a Dutch prisoner in The Colditz Story (1955), and a German officer in Above Us the Waves (1955).

He continued in much the same way, but in bigger parts, when he went to Hollywood after appearing on Broadway in Tonight in Samarkand (1955) as a French police inspector opposite Louis Jourdan. In The Enemy Below (1957), Bikel is the sympathetic second-in-command on a U-boat in the second world war, being hunted by the American captain (Robert Mitchum) on a destroyer.

For Stanley Kramer, Bikel played a sadistic French general ordering the execution of rebel Spaniards (including Frank Sinatra) during the Napoleonic wars in the absurd, overblown epic The Pride and the Passion (1957) and an American at last in The Defiant Ones (1958). Bikel was delighted to be given the role of the sheriff in pursuit of two escaped convicts chained together (Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier), for which he had an impeccable southern accent. Of his Oscar-nominated performance, the New York Times noted: “In the ranks of the pursuers, Theodore Bikel is most impressive as a sheriff with a streak of mercy and justice, which he has to fight to maintain against a brutish state policeman.”

Back to foreigners, Bikel was effectively slimy as a Greek fifth-columnist pitted against foreign correspondent Mitchum in 1941 before and after the German invasion of Greece in Robert Aldrich’s The Angry Hills (1959). However, perhaps his best remembered film role, albeit a very short one, was as the phonetics expert Zoltan Kapathy, who hopes to expose Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) as a fraud in My Fair Lady (1964), but finally declares her not only Hungarian but of royal blood. Kapathy is later described by Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison) as that “hairy hound from Budapest. Never leaving us alone. I’ve never known a ruder pest!”

Bikel won the role of the Russian captain of a submarine that accidentally runs aground on the New England coast in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming! (1966), because he was able to play a convincing Russian speaker. Off the beaten track, Bikel found himself in 200 Motels (1971), a surrealistic vision of life on the road for Frank Zappa and his band Mothers of Invention. As government agent Rance Muhammitz, Bikel is a satanic figure who wanders around dispensing hamburgers from a fuming briefcase.

Meanwhile, Bikel had a parallel career on television, appearing mainly as eastern Europeans in series such as Ironside, Charlie’s Angels, Falcon Crest and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Another side to his life arguably brought him more fame than acting. From 1955, Bikel recorded many albums including Jewish and Russian folk songs backed by him on acoustic guitar. In 1959, he co-founded the Newport Folk festival, where he often teamed up with Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary and Joan Baez.

In the 1960s, Bikel became increasingly involved with civil rights causes – he was arrested protesting against the Vietnam war – and was an activist for the Democratic party. His offstage activities included his hands-on presidency of Actors’ Equity (1973-82), and of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America from 1988. Among his other interests were keeping the Yiddish language alive and his love of Israel, though not an uncritical one.

Bikel is survived by his fourth wife, Aimee Ginsburg, whom he married in 2013, and two sons, Robert and Daniel, from his second marriage, to Rita Weinberg Call. That and his first marriage, to Ofra Ichilov, ended in divorce. His third wife, the conductor and pianist Tamara Brooks, died in 2012.

Theodore Meir Bikel, actor, singer and political activist, born 2 May 1924; died 20 July 2015


Anne Jackson

Anne Jackson
Anne Jackson

“New York Times” obituary from April 2016:

Anne Jackson, a distinguished star of the stage who was half of one of America’s best-known acting couples, sharing much of a long and distinguished career with her husband, Eli Wallach, died on Tuesday at her home in Manhattan. She was 90.   Her death was confirmed by her daughter Katherine Wallach.   If not quite on the same level of stardom as Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne or Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, Ms. Jackson and Mr. Wallach came close. From the early 1950s to 2000, when they starred Off Broadway in Anne Meara’s comedy “Down the Garden Paths,” they captivated audiences with their onstage synergy, displaying the tense affections and sizzling battles of two old pros who knew both how to love and how to fight   Ms. Jackson, who had endured a difficult life growing up in Brooklyn, carved out an impressive stage career of her own. Critics hailed her range and the subtlety of her characterizations — including all the women, from a middle-aged matron to a grandmother, in David V. Robison’s “Promenade, All!” (1972) — and a housewife verging on hysteria in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Absent Friends” (1977).   She was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as the daughter of a manufacturer, played by Edward G. Robinson, in Paddy Chayefsky’s “Middle of the Night” (1956).

 But she was best known for her work with Mr. Wallach, who died in 2014. Together they appeared in classics by Shaw and Chekhov; in dramas by Tennessee Williams and Eugène Ionesco; and, perhaps most notably, in offbeat comedies by Murray Schisgal.   They both won Obie Awards for their work in Mr. Schisgal’s 1963 Off Broadway double bill, “The Typists” and “The Tiger.” They also starred in his hit 1964 Broadway comedy, “Luv,” directed by Mike Nichols, which ran 901 performances and won three Tony Awards, and in another pair of Schisgal one-acts, “Twice Around the Park,” on Broadway in 1982.   Reviewing “Twice Around the Park” in The New York Times, Frank Rich wrote: “It would be absurd to think of a more perfect Schisgal woman (or maybe even a more perfect woman) than Miss Jackson — who is cool, poised and intelligent except on those occasions when she crumbles to the floor to demand that Mr. Wallach give her a sound kicking. (Don’t worry: Miss Jackson doesn’t deserve the punishment, and Mr. Wallach, deep down, is far too kind to deliver it.)   Ms. Jackson and Mr. Wallach appeared together 13 times on Broadway, seven times Off Broadway, and occasionally in movies and on television, where they did most of their work (both together and apart) in the later years of their career.

The volatility that characterized much of Ms. Jackson and Mr. Wallach’s stage work often carried over into their dressing rooms, with life imitating art over some technique or timing in a performance. Friends called it candid shoptalk by perfectionists who respected each other intellectually, emotionally and professionally. Life in the Jackson-Wallach apartment on Riverside Drive was also a turbulent affair: a juggling of finances and schedules to meet the demands of show business, marriage and parenthood — raising three children in the competitive wilds of Manhattan. They hired help, tried to smooth frictions with gruff tact and bought a weekend home in East Hampton, N.Y., to get away from it all.   n 1979, Ms. Jackson published a memoir that surprised critics. It was not about her career and had no spicy gossip or self-promotional revelations. The book, “Early Stages,” was instead a frank examination of her childhood and the years of turmoil that formed her, ending poignantly with the deaths of her parents.   “She writes of it vividly, sensitively, modestly,” Seymour Peck wrote in a review for The New York Times. “She cherishes it: this family nurtured her, gave her the strength, let her go on to become an actress, somehow prepared her for her own good marriage (to Eli Wallach) and for motherhood.”   She also examined her early days with Mr. Wallach. “We had a lot in common,” she wrote. “Neither of us could sing; both of us loved to act; we were both ambitious and idealistic; and we endowed each other with the most extraordinary virtues.”


Lucy Gutteridge

Val Kilmer & Lucy Gutteridge
Val Kilmer & Lucy Gutteridge


IMDB Entry:

Lucy Gutteridge was born on November 28, 1956 in London, England as Lucy Karima Gutteridge. She is an actress, known for Top Secret! (1984), A Christmas Carol (1984) and Hitler’s S.S.: Portrait in Evil (1985).

The character she played in The Woman He Loved (1988), Thelma Morgan, Lady Furness, was the identical twin sister of the character she played in Little Gloria… Happy at Last (1982), Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt.
She’s the eldest daughter of Bernard Hugh Gutteridge by his marriage to Nabila Farah Karima Halim, the daughter of H.H. Prince Muhammad Said Bey Halim of Egypt and his British second wife, Nabila Malika
Has a daughter with her ex-husband Andrew Hawkins – Alice Isabella Valentine Hawkins (b.1979).

Bo Svenson

Bo Svenson
Bo Svenson

IMDB Entry:

An award-winning actor, writer, producer and director, Bo Svenson has during his career worked with over one hundred Academy Award winners and/or nominees.   He is a prolific writer in addition to being an accomplished actor. His first novel, “For Love and Country”, was published in December 2015. His screenplay “Don’t Call Me Sir!” won the 2015 New York Screenplay Contest’s “Park Avenue Prize for Drama” and 1st Place in Drama at the 2015 Los Angeles Screenplay Contest — and his screenplay “For Love and Country” won two Gold Awards at the International Independent Film Awards.   He has several other screenplays in various stages of development and preproduction, including “Yakuzano”; “Misguided”; “Viking: The Red Cloth”; and “Fate, Two Kids and an ET”.

Born in Sweden to a Russian Jewish mother and a Swedish father, Svenson emigrated by himself to the US as a teenager and began by serving his new country with six years in the U.S. Marines. After an honorable discharge, he was spotted in Miami by James Hammerstein Jr. and cast in a revival of “South Pacific”. Curious to find out if acting was for him, he headed to New York where he landed the lead role as Yang Sun in Bertolt Brecht’s play “The Good Woman of Szechuan” at The Circle In The Square Theater in Greenwich Village — and cast in a starring role in the CBS TV pilot The Freebooters.

Other starring roles followed, as well as a recurring role as Big Swede on “Here Come the Brides”. His role as the Creature in the three-hour TV movie “Mary Shelley’s Original Frankenstein” brought him great acclaim and led to a starring role in “Maurie” and the co-starring role with Robert Redford in “The Great Waldo Pepper”.

Major starring roles followed: Sheriff Buford Pusser in “Walking Tall Part II”, “Walking Tall Final Chapter” and the “Walking Tall” TV series; crazed football player Jo Bob in “North Dallas Forty”; heroic airline pilot Captain Campbell in “The Delta Force”; jealous bar-owner Roy Jennings in Clint Eastwood’s “Heartbreak Ridge”; and cold-blooded killer Ivan in “Magnum, P.I.”

In addition to recently being the Russian mob boss Vadim in “Icarus”, he portrayed Reverend Harmony in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” and The Colonel in Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”. He was the only actor from the original “The Inglorious Bastards” cast included by Tarantino in his homage to that movie, one of his all-time favorites.

An accomplished athlete, he has competed in world championships, Olympic selections and/or international competition in judo, yachting, track, and ice hockey — and he drove NASCAR.

A black belt in judo, karate, and aikido, he has been inducted into the Martial Arts Masters Hall of Fame. He retired from judo competition after winning a silver in the 2009 USA Judo National Championships, a bronze in the IJF World Judo Masters Championships, and a gold in the 2013 USJA Winter Nationals.

He was recently Sports Commissioner at the Special Olympics World Games: 2015 LA — held at his alma mater UCLA where he had pursued a Ph.D. in metaphysics until his film career took over.   He is president and CEO of MagicQuest Entertainment, a California corporation engaged in international motion picture and television development, production, and branded advertainment. MagicQuest also provides consulting service to actors and writers.

A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ( since 1987, he serves on the nominating committee for Best Foreign Language Film and is a juror on the Student Academy Award committee.   He was Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Motion Picture Group of America from 1984-2004.   His numerous honors and nominations include Lifetime Achievement Awards from Action On Film, the Movieville International Film Festival, and The Reel Cowboys Hall of Fame; the NAACP Image Award Nomination; the Academy of Science Fiction and Fantasy Golden Scroll Award; the Hollywood Women’s Press Club Golden Apple; the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast for Inglourious Basterds; and the Italian Institute of Art Award of Merit.

His short film, “Made For Each Other” — that he wrote, produced and directed starring Dennis Hopper — was nominated for Best Short at numerous festivals and won the Award of Excellence at the Accolade Global Film Competition.   He conducts “Acting for Life – Be All You That You Can Be” seminars in colleges, universities and corporate boardrooms around the globe.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Val Verse


Anthony James

Anthony  James
Anthony James

IMDB Entry:

Character actor Anthony James was born on July 22nd, 1942 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Tall and lanky, with a rough, pockmarked face, a lean, stringy build, greasy dark hair and an extremely edgy’n’intense screen presence, James was often cast in Westerns as really scary, sleazy and disgusting villains. James was especially memorable as the hateful racist diner counterman in the outstanding In the Heat of the Night (1967). Other noteworthy parts include a slimy gay hitchhiker in the cult classic Vanishing Point (1971), a wimpy priest in The Culpepper Cattle Co. (1972), a scuzzy outlaw in High Plains Drifter (1973), a deranged psycho in The Teacher (1974), a creepy chauffeur in the spooky haunted house horror chiller Burnt Offerings (1976), and the vicious leader of a gang of ferocious barbarians in the strictly so-so science fiction outing Ravagers (1979). James was hilarious in a rare change-of-pace good guy role as a heroic cannibal (!) in the amusing tongue-in-cheek post-nuke sci-fi romp World Gone Wild (1987). He was likewise funny parodying his evil persona in The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991). Among the many TV shows James did guest spots on are Married with Children (1987), Beauty and the Beast (1987), Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987), Simon & Simon (1981), The A-Team (1983), Riptide (1984), The Fall Guy (1981), Hunter (1984), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979), Quincy M.E. (1976), Charlie’s Angels (1976), Vega$ (1978), Starsky and Hutch (1975), S.W.A.T. (1975), Ironside (1967), Hawaii Five-O (1968), Bonanza (1959), Gunsmoke (1955) and The Big Valley (1965). His last film appearance to date was as the mean owner of a seedy bordello in Clint Eastwood‘s acclaimed Western Unforgiven (1992). After voluntarily quitting acting in the early 90s, Anthony James has since pursued a successful career as an artist. His paintings have been exhibited in galleries in such major cities as New York, Boston and Miami.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: woodyanders