Jan 082018
 

On This Day


Births


                

    


1908 – William Hartnell

William Henry Hartnell, also known as Billy Hartnell or Bill Hartnell, was an English actor. Hartnell played the first incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who, from 1963 to 1966. He was also well known for his role as Sergeant Grimshaw, the title character of the first Carry On film, Carry On Sergeant in 1958, and Company Sergeant Major Percy Bullimore in the sitcom The Army Game from 1957 until 1958, and again in 1960.

Died: 23 April 1975

Aged 67


1934 – Roy Kinnear

Roy Mitchell Kinnear was an English actor. He is known for his roles in films directed by Richard Lester; including Algernon in Help! (1965); Clapper in How I Won the War (1967); and Planchet in The Three Musketeers (1973), reprising the latter role in the 1974 and 1989 sequels. He is also known for playing Henry Salt in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Kinnear made his stage debut in 1955, and came to prominence in the BBC satirical comedy series That Was the Week That Was in 1962. He went on to appear in numerous British television comedy programmes, including The Dick Emery Show (1979–81), and in the sitcoms Man About the House (1974–75), George and Mildred (1976–79) and Cowboys (1980–81).

Died: 20 September 1988

Aged 54


1941 – Graham Chapman

Graham Arthur Chapman was an English comedian, writer, actor, author, and one of the six members of the British surreal comedy group Monty Python. He played authority figures such as the Colonel and the lead role in two Python films, Holy Grail and Life of Brian.

Chapman was born in Leicester and was raised in Melton Mowbray. He enjoyed science, acting, and comedy, and after graduating from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and St Bartholomew’s Medical College, he turned down a career as a doctor to be a comedian. Chapman eventually established a writing partnership with John Cleese, which reached its critical peak with Monty Python in the 1970s. Chapman subsequently left Britain for Los Angeles, where he attempted to be a success on American television, speaking on the college circuit and producing the pirate film Yellowbeard, before returning to Britain in the early 1980s.

In his personal life, Chapman was openly homosexual and a strong supporter of gay rights, and was in a relationship with David Sherlock. He was an alcoholic during his time at Cambridge and the Python years, quitting shortly before working on Life of Brian. Chapman died of tonsil and spinal cancer on 4 October 1989, on the eve of Monty Python’s 20th anniversary, and his life and legacy were commemorated at a private memorial service at St Bartholomew’s with the other five Pythons.

Died: 04 October 1989

Aged 48


1947 – David Bowie

David Robert Jones, known professionally as David Bowie, was an English singer, songwriter and actor. He was a leading figure in popular music for over five decades, acclaimed by critics and other musicians for his innovative work. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, his music and stagecraft significantly influencing popular music. During his lifetime, his record sales, estimated at 140 million albums worldwide, made him one of the world’s best-selling music artists. In the UK, he was awarded nine platinum album certifications, eleven gold and eight silver, releasing eleven number-one albums. In the US, he received five platinum and nine gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Born in Brixton, South London, Bowie developed an interest in music as a child, eventually studying art, music and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963. “Space Oddity” became his first top-five entry on the UK Singles Chart after its release in July 1969. After a period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with his flamboyant and androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was spearheaded by the success of his single “Starman” and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which won him widespread popularity. In 1975, Bowie’s style shifted radically towards a sound he characterised as “plastic soul”, initially alienating many of his UK devotees but garnering him his first major US crossover success with the number-one single “Fame” and the album Young Americans. In 1976, Bowie starred in the cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth, directed by Nicolas Roeg, and released Station to Station. The following year, he further confounded musical expectations with the electronic-inflected album Low (1977), the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno that would come to be known as the “Berlin Trilogy”. “Heroes” (1977) and Lodger (1979) followed; each album reached the UK top five and received lasting critical praise.

After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones with the 1980 single “Ashes to Ashes”, its parent album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), and “Under Pressure”, a 1981 collaboration with Queen. He then reached his commercial peak in 1983 with Let’s Dance, with its title track topping both UK and US charts. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including industrial and jungle. He also continued acting; his roles included Major Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), the Goblin King Jareth in Labyrinth (1986), Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006), among other film and television appearances and cameos. He stopped concert touring after 2004 and his last live performance was at a charity event in 2006. In 2013, Bowie returned from a decade-long recording hiatus with the release of The Next Day. He remained musically active until he died of liver cancer two days after the release of his final album, Blackstar (2016).

Died: 10 January 2016

Aged 69


1948 – Norman Piper

Norman Piper is an English former footballer who played professionally in England for 13 years before finishing his career in the United States,

Piper was one of that generation who bridged the gap between terminological eras, beginning his career as a wing half and ending it as a midfielder despite playing a similar role throughout. Born in North Tawton, Devon on 8 January 1948 he joined Plymouth Argyle as an apprentice and signed professional terms in February 1965. Already an England Youth international, Piper made his debut for the Under 23 side in 1970 against Bulgaria, the year he left The Pilgrims- for whom he scored 35 goals in 221 appearances. That summer Piper had signed for Portsmouth, becoming their record signing at £50,000.

Piper served Pompey with great distinction during the clubs increasingly tenuous hold on Division Two status, but eventually lost form after relegation to the third. He was dropped in February 1978, being replaced by his namesake Steve Piper. His contract, along with that of Bobby Stokes was terminated the following month and a move to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers soon followed. In 1979, Piper was the first player signed by the expansion Wichita Wings of Major Indoor Soccer League. He played for the Wings until 1982 when he was sent to the Pittsburgh Spirit.

Following his retirement from playing, he became and assistant coach with the Wichita Wings. He was fired on 30 January 1988. In 1989, he was hired to coach the Wichita Blue in the Heartland Soccer League. In 1990, the Blue moved to the Lone Star Soccer Alliance. He was fired mid-season. He coached the men’s soccer team at Bethel College (Kansas) from 1988 to 1990. He now is a coach for a small travel soccer team in Southern California known as TVSA Hawks

Piper played 358 times for Portsmouth scoring 60 goals between 1970 – 1978

Age 70


1965 – Michelle Forbes

Michelle Renee Forbes Guajardo is an American actress who has appeared on television and in independent films in both the UK and US. Forbes first gained attention from her dual role in daytime soap opera Guiding Light, for which she received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination. She is also a Saturn Award winner with three nominations.

Although she has appeared in significant roles in movies such as Escape from L.A., Kalifornia and Swimming with Sharks, Forbes is known for her recurring appearances on genre and drama shows such as Ensign Ro Laren in Star Trek: The Next Generation and her regular role as Dr. Julianna Cox on Homicide: Life on the Street during the 1990s, while building her career with recurring roles throughout the 2000s in Battlestar Galactica, 24, In Treatment, Durham County, Prison Break and her series regular role as Maryann Forrester on True Blood.

She starred in the 2011–2012 AMC television series The Killing, for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination on July 14, 2011.

Age 53


1977 – Amber Benson

Amber Nicole Benson is an American actress, writer, director, and producer. She is best known for her role as Tara Maclay on the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but has also directed, produced and starred in her own films Chance (2002) and Lovers, Liars & Lunatics (2006). She also co-directed the film Drones with fellow Buffy cast member Adam Busch.

Age 41


On This Day

Nov 142017
 

On This Day


Births


    


1959 – Paul McGann

Paul John McGann is an English actor. He came to prominence for portraying Percy Toplis in the 1986 television serial The Monocled Mutineer. He later starred in the 1987 dark comedy Withnail and I, and as the eighth incarnation of the Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who television film, a role he reprised in more than 70 audio dramas and the 2013 mini-episode “The Night of the Doctor”. McGann is also known for playing Lieutenant William Bush in the Hornblower TV series.

Age 58


1977 – Brian Dietzen

Brian Dietzen is an American actor who has played the supporting role of Dr Jimmy Palmer on NCIS since 2004. In 2012, he was promoted to a series regular at the beginning of the show’s tenth season.

Age 40


On This Day

Nov 032017
 

Famous Births and Deaths on this day in history


Births


            


1910 – Richard Hurndall

Richard Gibbon Hurndall  was an English actor.

Hurndall was born in Darlington and he attended Claremont Preparatory School, Darlington and Scarborough College, before training as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. He then appeared in several plays at Stratford-upon-Avon. Hurndall acted with the BBC radio drama repertory company from 1949 to 1952. In 1959, he played Sherlock Holmes in a five part adaptation of The Sign of Four. He continued to play roles on BBC radio until about 1980, often as the leading man.

Died 13 April 1984

Aged 73


1933 – Jeremy Brett

Jeremy Brett (born Peter Jeremy William Huggins), was an English actor, probably best known for playing fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in four Granada TV series from 1984 to 1994 in all 41 episodes. His career spanned from stage, to television and film, to Shakespeare and musical theatre. He is also remembered for playing the besotted Freddie Eynsford-Hill in the Warner Bros. 1964 production of My Fair Lady.

Died 12 September 1995

Aged 61


1954 – Adam Ant

Adam Ant (born Leslie Goddard) is an English singer and musician. He gained popularity as the lead singer of new wave group Adam and the Ants and later as a solo artist, scoring 10 UK top ten hits from 1980 to 1983, including three UK No. 1 singles. He has also worked as an actor, appearing in over two dozen films and television episodes from 1985 to 2003.

Since 2010, Ant has undertaken an intense reactivation of his musical career, performing live regularly in his hometown of London and beyond, recording and releasing a new album and completing six full-length UK national tours, three US national tours, and an Australian tour and with a fourth US tour and second Australian tour scheduled and a further album completed and awaiting release.

Age 63


1957 – Gary Olsen

Gary Olsen was an English actor. He is best known for the role of Ben in the BBC television sitcom 2point4 Children.

Died 12 September 2000

Aged 42


On This Day

Oct 282017
 

Famous Births and Deaths on this day in history

                


Births


1944 – Ian Marter

Ian Don Marter was an English actor and writer, known for his role as Harry Sullivan in the BBC science-fiction television series Doctor Who from December 1974 to September 1975, with a non-regular, one-serial return in November and December 1975. He sometimes used the pseudonym Ian Don. Marter died suddenly of a diabetic heart attack on his 42nd birthday in 1986.

Died: 28 October 1986

Aged 42


1963 – Lauren Holly

Lauren Michael Holly is an American-Canadian actress. She is known for her roles as Deputy Sheriff Maxine Stewart in the television series Picket Fences, Mary Swanson in the 1994 film Dumb and Dumber, as Linda Lee in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, and Director Jenny Shepard in the series NCIS.

Age 54


1974 – Dejan Stefanović

Dejan Stefanović is a retired Serbian football player.

Stefanović played 125 times for Portsmouth scoring 3 goals between 2003 – 2007

Age 43


1982 – Matt Smith

Matthew Robert Smith is an English actor and voice actor. He is best known for his role as the 11th incarnation of The Doctor in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, for which he received a BAFTA Award nomination in 2011.

Age 35


1983 – Joe Thomas

Joseph “Joe” Thomas is an English actor. He is best known for playing Simon Cooper in the E4 sitcom The Inbetweeners and Kingsley Owen in the Channel 4 comedy-drama series Fresh Meat.

Age 34


1997 – Sierra McCormick

Sierra McCormick is an American actress. She is known for her role as Olive Doyle on the Disney Channel series A.N.T. Farm and her participation on the game show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? She also played Lilith on The CW television series Supernatural.

Age 20


Deaths



1986 – Ian Marter

Born: 28 October 1944

Ian Don Marter was an English actor and writer, known for his role as Harry Sullivan in the BBC science-fiction television series Doctor Who from December 1974 to September 1975, with a non-regular, one-serial return in November and December 1975. He sometimes used the pseudonym Ian Don. Marter died suddenly of a diabetic heart attack on his 42nd birthday in 1986.

Died Aged 42


On This Day

Jan 252017
 

John Hurt, widely admired stage and screen actor, dies aged 77

British actor became an overnight sensation after playing Quentin Crisp in the 1975 television film The Naked Civil Servant

Few British actors of recent years have been held in as much affection as Sir John Hurt, who has died aged 77. That affection is not just because of his unruly lifestyle – he was a hell-raising chum of Oliver Reed, Peter O’Toole and Richard Harris, and was married four times – or even his string of performances as damaged, frail or vulnerable characters, though that was certainly a factor. There was something about his innocence, open-heartedness and his beautiful speaking voice that made him instantly attractive.

As he aged, his face developed more creases and folds than the old map of the Indies, inviting comparisons with the famous “lived-in” faces of WH Auden and Samuel Beckett, in whose reminiscent Krapp’s Last Tape he gave a definitive solo performance towards the end of his career. One critic said he could pack a whole emotional universe into the twitch of an eyebrow, a sardonic slackening of the mouth. Hurt himself said: “What I am now, the man, the actor, is a blend of all that has happened.”

For theatregoers of my generation, his pulverising, hysterically funny performance as Malcolm Scrawdyke, leader of the Party of Dynamic Erection at a Yorkshire art college, in David Halliwell’s Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs, was a totemic performance of the mid-1960s; another was David Warner’s Hamlet, and both actors appeared in the 1974 film version of Little Malcolm. The play lasted only two weeks at the Garrick Theatre (I saw the final Saturday matinée), but Hurt’s performance was already a minor cult, and one collected by the Beatles and Laurence Olivier.

He became an overnight sensation with the public at large as Quentin Crisp – the self-confessed “stately homo of England” – in the 1975 television film The Naked Civil Servant, directed by Jack Gold, playing the outrageous, original and defiant aesthete whom Hurt had first encountered as a nude model in his painting classes at St Martin’s School of Art, before he trained as an actor.

Crisp called Hurt “my representative here on Earth”, ironically claiming a divinity at odds with his low-life louche-ness and poverty. But Hurt, a radiant vision of ginger quiffs and curls, with a voice kippered in gin and as studiously inflected as a deadpan mix of Noël Coward, Coral Browne and Julian Clary, in a way propelled Crisp to the stars, and certainly to his transatlantic fame, a journey summarised when Hurt recapped Crisp’s life in An Englishman in New York (2009), 10 years after his death.

Hurt said some people had advised him that playing Crisp would end his career. Instead, it made everything possible. Within five years he had appeared in four of the most extraordinary films of the late 1970s: Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), the brilliantly acted sci-fi horror movie in which Hurt – from whose stomach the creature exploded – was the first victim; Alan Parker’s Midnight Express, for which he won his first Bafta award as a drug-addicted convict in a Turkish torture prison; Michael Cimino’s controversial western Heaven’s Gate (1980), now a cult classic in its fully restored format; and David Lynch’s The Elephant Man (1980), with Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft.

In the latter, as John Merrick, the deformed circus attraction who becomes a celebrity in Victorian society and medicine, Hurt won a second Bafta award and Lynch’s opinion that he was “the greatest actor in the world”. He infused a hideous outer appearance – there were 27 moving pieces in his face mask; he spent nine hours a day in make-up – with a deeply moving, humane quality. He followed up with a small role – Jesus – in Mel Brooks’s History of the World: Part 1 (1981), the movie where the waiter at the Last Supper says, “Are you all together, or is it separate cheques?”

Hurt was an actor freed of all convention in his choice of roles, and he lived his life accordingly. Born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, he was the youngest of three children of a Church of England vicar and mathematician, the Reverend Arnould Herbert Hurt, and his wife, Phyllis (née Massey), an engineer with an enthusiasm for amateur dramatics.

After a miserable schooling at St Michael’s in Sevenoaks, Kent (where he said he was sexually abused), and the Lincoln grammar school (where he played Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest), he rebelled as an art student, first at the Grimsby art school where, in 1959, he won a scholarship to St Martin’s, before training at Rada for two years in 1960.

He made a stage debut that same year with the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Arts, playing a semi-psychotic teenage thug in Fred Watson’s Infanticide in the House of Fred Ginger and then joined the cast of Arnold Wesker’s national service play, Chips With Everything, at the Vaudeville. Still at the Arts, he was Len in Harold Pinter’s The Dwarfs (1963) before playing the title role in John Wilson’s Hamp (1964) at the Edinburgh Festival, where critic Caryl Brahms noted his unusual ability and “blessed quality of simplicity”.

This was a more relaxed, free-spirited time in the theatre. Hurt recalled rehearsing with Pinter when silver salvers stacked with gins and tonics, ice and lemon, would arrive at 11.30 each morning as part of the stage management routine. On receiving a rude notice from the distinguished Daily Mail critic Peter Lewis, he wrote, “Dear Mr Lewis, Whooooops! Yours sincerely, John Hurt” and received the reply, “Dear Mr Hurt, thank you for short but tedious letter. Yours sincerely, Peter Lewis.”

After Little Malcolm, he played leading roles with the RSC at the Aldwych – notably in David Mercer’s Belcher’s Luck (1966) and as the madcap dadaist Tristan Tzara in Tom Stoppard’s Travesties (1974) – as well as Octavius in Shaw’s Man and Superman in Dublin in 1969 and an important 1972 revival of Pinter’s The Caretaker at the Mermaid. But his stage work over the next 10 years was virtually non-existent as he followed The Naked Civil Servant with another pyrotechnical television performance as Caligula in I, Claudius; Raskolnikov in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and the Fool to Olivier’s King Lear in Michael Elliott’s 1983 television film.

His first big movie had been Fred Zinnemann’s A Man for All Seasons (1966) with Paul Scofield (Hurt played Richard Rich) but his first big screen performance was an unforgettable Timothy Evans, the innocent framed victim in Richard Fleischer’s 10 Rillington Place (1970), with Richard Attenborough as the sinister landlord and killer John Christie. He claimed to have made 150 movies and persisted in playing those he called “the unloved … people like us, the inside-out people, who live their lives as an experiment, not as a formula”. Even his Ben Gunn-like professor in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) fitted into this category, though not as resoundingly, perhaps, as his quivering Winston Smith in Michael Radford’s terrific Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984); or as a prissy weakling, Stephen Ward, in Michael Caton-Jones’s Scandal (1989) about the Profumo affair; or again as the lonely writer Giles De’Ath in Richard Kwietniowski’s Love and Death on Long Island.

His later, sporadic theatre performances included a wonderful Trigorin in Chekhov’s The Seagull at the Lyric, Hammersmith, in 1985 (with Natasha Richardson as Nina); Turgenev’s incandescent idler Rakitin in a 1994 West End production by Bill Bryden of A Month in the Country, playing a superb duet with Helen Mirren’s Natalya Petrovna; and another memorable match with Penelope Wilton in Brian Friel’s exquisite 70-minute doodle Afterplay (2002), in which two lonely Chekhov characters – Andrei from Three Sisters, Sonya from Uncle Vanya – find mutual consolation in a Moscow café in the 1920s. The play originated, like his Krapp, at the Gate Theatre in Dublin.

His last screen work included, in the Harry Potter franchise, the first, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), and last two, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts One and Two (2010, 2011), as the kindly wand-maker Mr Ollivander; Roland Joffé’s 1960s remake of Brighton Rock (2010); and the 50th anniversary television edition of Dr Who (2013), playing a forgotten incarnation of the title character.

Because of his distinctive, virtuosic vocal attributes – was that what a brandy-injected fruitcake sounds like, or peanut butter spread thickly with a serrated knife? – he was always in demand for voiceover gigs in animated movies: the heroic rabbit leader, Hazel, in Watership Down (1978), Aragorn/Strider in Lord of the Rings (1978) and the Narrator in Lars von Trier’s Dogville (2004). In 2015 he took the Peter O’Toole stage role in Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell for BBC Radio 4. He had foresworn alcohol for a few years – not for health reasons, he said, but because he was bored with it.

Hurt’s sister was a teacher in Australia, his brother a convert to Roman Catholicism and a monk and writer. After his first short marriage to the actor Annette Robinson (1960, divorced 1962) he lived for 15 years in London with the French model Marie-Lise Volpeliere Pierrot. She was killed in a riding accident in 1983. In 1984 he married, secondly, a Texan, Donna Peacock (divorced in 1990), living with her for a time in Nairobi until the relationship came under strain from his drinking and her dalliance with a gardener. With his third wife, Jo Dalton (married in 1990, divorced 1995), he had two sons, Nicolas and Alexander (“Sasha”), who survive him, as does his fourth wife, the actor and producer Anwen Rees-Myers, whom he married in 2005 and with whom he lived in Cromer, Norfolk. Hurt was made CBE in 2004, given a Bafta lifetime achievement award in 2012 and knighted in the New Year’s honours list of 2015.