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Alan Howard

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Also Known As: Alan Mackenzie Howard Died:
Born: August 5, 1937 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: London, England, GB Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Renowned for his imposing physique and resonant voice, British thespian Alan Howard was arguably the greatest Shakesperean performer of the 20th century. A member of a theatrical dynasty, Howard began his career treading the boards in various West End productions before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1966 where he would remain until the early '80s. Howard played all of the Bard's British kings during his remarkable tenure, winning numerous awards for his portrayals of Henry IV, Richard II and Coriolanus in particular, and continued to cement his national treasure status following his departure with an array of memorable National Theatre performances in "Pygmalion," "Les Parents Terribles" and "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead." Howard's film and television career was less prolific, but he still managed to make a significant impression whenever he appeared on screen, most notably as intelligence officer Jack Brotherhood in the John le Carre adaptation "A Perfect Spy" (BBC1, 1987), The Lover in Peter Greenaway's black comedy "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" (1989) and Oliver Cromwell in "The Return of the Musketeers" (1989). His casting as the voice of The Ring in Peter...

Renowned for his imposing physique and resonant voice, British thespian Alan Howard was arguably the greatest Shakesperean performer of the 20th century. A member of a theatrical dynasty, Howard began his career treading the boards in various West End productions before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1966 where he would remain until the early '80s. Howard played all of the Bard's British kings during his remarkable tenure, winning numerous awards for his portrayals of Henry IV, Richard II and Coriolanus in particular, and continued to cement his national treasure status following his departure with an array of memorable National Theatre performances in "Pygmalion," "Les Parents Terribles" and "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead." Howard's film and television career was less prolific, but he still managed to make a significant impression whenever he appeared on screen, most notably as intelligence officer Jack Brotherhood in the John le Carre adaptation "A Perfect Spy" (BBC1, 1987), The Lover in Peter Greenaway's black comedy "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" (1989) and Oliver Cromwell in "The Return of the Musketeers" (1989). His casting as the voice of The Ring in Peter Jackson's Tolkien trilogy introduced his unmistakable booming tones to a whole new audience.

Born in Croydon, Surrey in 1937, Howard grew up surrounded by actors including his father Arthur, his uncle Leslie and his great aunt Fay Compton, and first began following in their footsteps during his high school and national service years. Howard made his on-stage debut as a footman in a production of "Half In Earnest" at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre in 1958, before transferring to London where he honed his craft in the likes of The Wesker Trilogy, Jacobean tragedy "The Changeling," and a musical version of John Vanbrugh's "The Relapse" at various West End theatres. Although Howard had also ventured onto the big screen with supporting roles in British suspense thriller "Victim" (1961), and World War II epics "The Americanization of Emily" (1964) and "The Heroes of Telemark" (1965), theatre remained his first love, and after co-starring with Judi Dench and Edward Woodward in a Nottingham Playhouse production of "Richard II," he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, to which he would dedicate the next 17 years of his career.

It was a period in which Howard would assert himself as one of the finest classical actors of his generation. In addition to playing every British king in Shakespeare's canon â¿¿ both Richards, Macbeth, all three Henrys and Lear â¿¿ Howard also achieved considerable acclaim for his portrayals of Theseus and Oberon in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Benedick in "Much Ado About Nothing." Having also added to his body of on-screen work with roles as dramatist Prosper Merimee in George Sand biopic "Notorious Women" (1974) and spymaster Cragoe in espionage drama "Cover" (ITV, 1981), Howard then took a break from the theatre world to focus on more mainstream work. After playing Rob Lowe's tutor in early Brat Pack movie "Oxford Blues" (1984), he appeared as intelligence officer Jack Brother in John le Carre adaptation "A Perfect Spy" (BBC1, 1987), starred as one of four scientists attempting to discover the structure of DNA in "Life Story" (BBC1, 1987), and guest starred in detective series "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" (ITV, 1986) and "Agatha Christie's Poirot" (ITV, 1989-2013).

Howard's most memorable big screen performances arrived in the same year when he played bookshop owner Michael, aka The Lover, in "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" (1989), and military leader Oliver Cromwell in Richard Lester's "The Return of the Musketeers" (1989). In 1990, Howard returned to the stage in a Chichester Theatre production of Ingmar Bergman's "Scenes From A Marriage," and went onto become a regular at the Royal National Theatre, receiving plaudits for his roles as Professor Higgins in George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion," George in Jean Cocteau's "Les Parents Terribles" and the Player King in a revival of Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guilenstern Are Dead." Howard continued to make sporadic film and TV appearances throughout the decade, playing Tom French in the adaptation of David Hare's play, "The Secret Rapture" (1993), Sir Cecil Mortimer in World War II miniseries "No Bananas" (BBC1, 1996), and Mr. Spenlow in "David Copperfield" (BBC1, 2000).

Peter Jackson then utilised Howard's clarion tones when he cast him as the Voice of the Ring in the first and third installments of his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001), and "The Return of the King" (2003). Appearances as Father Sebastian Morell in detective miniseries "Death in Holy Orders" (BBC1, 2003) and barrister Stephen Beck in "Foyle's War" (ITV1, 2002-2015), then followed, and although ill health forced Howard to cut back on his workload, he still remained relatively active in the theatre world, impressing in the likes of Wedekind's "Lulu" at the Almeida, "Oedipus" at the National, and "The School for Scandal" at the Barbican, before making his final on-screen appearance as Tietjens Senior in period drama "Parade's End" (BBC2, 2012). In 2015, Howard died of pneumonia at London's Royal Free Hospital, aged 77.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
3.
 Secret Rapture, The (1993) Tom French
4.
 Dakota Road (1991) Alan Brandon
5.
 Casualty of War, A (1990) Sam Mccready
6.
 Pride and Extreme Prejudice (1990) Sam Mccready
7.
 Strapless (1989) Mr Cooper
8.
 Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, The (1989) Michael--The Lover
9.
 Return of the Musketeers, The (1989) Oliver Cromwell
10.
 Just Another Secret (1989) Sam Mccready
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1958:
Worked as a stage hand and assistant stage manager at Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, England; made acting debut there as Footman in "Half in Earnest"
1959:
London stage debut as Frankie Bryant in "Roots"
1961:
Feature debut as Frank in "Victim"
1966:
First performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company in productions of "Twelfth Night", "Henry V" and "The Revenger's Tragedy"
1967:
Became an associate artist at the RSC
1969:
Earned the London Theatre Critics Award for Most Promising Actor
1970:
Played title role in Trevor Nunn's "Hamlet", Mephistopholes in "Doctor Faustus", Ceres in "The Tempest" and Theseus and Oberon in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
1971:
Broadway debut, reprising Theseus and Oberon
1975:
First appearance on American TV, "Notorious Woman", broadcast as episodes of "Masterpiece Theatre" (PBS)
1975:
Acted the part of Prince Hal in "Henry IV, Parts I and II"
1977:
Portrayed the title roles in "Henry VI, Parts I, II, and III" and "Coriolanus"
:
Played title roles in "Richard II" and "Richard III"
1981:
Portrayed John Halder, a university professor becoming a Nazi, in "Good"
1982:
Reprised "Good" role on Broadway; earned Tony nomination
1984:
Played Simon Rutledge in "Oxford Blues"
1987:
Acted the part of Maurice Wilkins in TV movie, "Double Helix", about the men who identified DNA
1989:
Portrayed Oliver Cromwell in Richard Lester's "The Return of the Three Musketeers"
1989:
Co-starred in David Hare's "Strapless"
1989:
Acted opposite Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon in "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover"; played the titular "lover"
:
Portrayed Sam McCready in six episodes of "Frederick Forsyth Presents" (USA Network)
1991:
Narrated "Fuhrer: Seduction of a Nation" (PBS)
1993:
Last feature to date, "The Secret Rapture", adapted from David Hare's play
1994:
Acted in "Anna Lee: Headcase", an A&E movie
1996:
Starred in the National Theater productions of "Oedipus Tyrranos" and "Oedipus at Colonus"
1997:
Co-starred with Ben Kingsley in a West End revival of "Waiting for Godot"
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Education

Ardingly College: -

Notes

Named a Commander of the British Empire in 1997

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Stephanie Hinchcliffe Davies. Married in 1965; divorced.
wife:
Sally Beauman. Married in 1976.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Arthur John Howard. Actor. Born in 1910; died in 1995.
mother:
Jean Compton Howard. Actor.
uncle:
Leslie Howard. Actor. Born in 1893; died in 1943.
son:
James Howard.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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