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Overview for Alec McCowen
Alec McCowen

Alec McCowen



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Also Known As: Alexander Duncan Mccowen Died:
Born: May 26, 1925 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Kent, England, GB Profession: Cast ... actor writer director


British stage actor Alec McCowen paid his dues in the provinces throughout the 1940s, finally taking his first London bow in 1950, then traveled to NYC with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh for his Broadway debut in "Anthony and Cleopatra" (1951) before appearing in his initial film, "The Cruel Sea" (1953). The highlight of two seasons at the Old Vic was his portrayal of Mercutio in Franco Zeffirelli's production of "Romeo and Juliet" (1960-61), and when he moved to the Royal Shakespeare Company, he played the Fool to Paul Scofield's "King Lear" (1962), roles the two would reprise on Broadway in 1964. McCowen sealed his reputation with two enormous hits at the end of the decade, Peter Luke's "Hadrian VII" (1967-69) and Christopher Hampton's "The Philanthropist" (1970-71), bringing both plays to Broadway, earning Tony Award nominations and winning Drama Desk Awards as Best Actor for each.

On the heel of these two successes, McCowen found time to act in the films of two directing giants, George Cukor's "Travels with My Aunt" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Frenzy" (both 1972). That same year, he directed a London stage production of "While the Sun Shines" before playing opposite Diana Rigg in Tony Harrison's inspired reworking of Moliere's "The Misanthrope" (1973), repeating his performance on Broadway in 1975. 1977 found him back on Broadway as Martin Dysart in "Equus," and the following year, he directed and starred for the first time in his adaptation of "St. Mark's Gospel," a show he also brought to New York in 1978, 1981 and 1990. He delivered one of the nicest touches in "Never Say Never Again" (1983) as Q, 007's favorite armaments specialist who complains of insufficient funding and whose factory looks like a second-rate autobody shop. Among his later films, McCowen appeared in Terry Jones' "Personal Services" (1987), Kenneth Branagh's "Henry V" (1989) and Martin Scorsese's "The Age of Innocence" (1993).

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