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Ian Bannen

Ian Bannen

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Also Known As: Died: November 3, 1999
Born: June 29, 1928 Cause of Death: automobile accident
Birth Place: United Kingdom Profession: Cast ... actor professional photographer
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BIOGRAPHY

Scottish-born actor Ian Bannen began his career in Ireland in 1947 and first appeared on the London stage as Captain Rickman in "Prisoners of War" (1955). Closely identified in England with the plays of Eugene O'Neill, he portrayed Hickey in "The Iceman Cometh" (1957) and Jamie Tyrone in "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (1958), later reprising the role of Jamie for 1983 productions of "A Moon for the Misbegotten" in London and NYC. Bannen made his feature debut in "Battle Hell" (1956), acquitted himself well in "The Risk/Suspect" (1960) and earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination as the cynical plane crash survivor in Robert Aldrich's "Flight of the Phoenix" (1965). His suave, dark good looks were fully utilized as Natalie Wood's stuffy husband in the lightweight "Penelope" (1967) and allowed him to be cast against type as a child molester in Sidney Lumet's taut "The Offense" (1973). As he aged into character roles, Bannen found success in a variety of roles from a unscrupulous religious in the underrated "Lamb" (1985) to the cantankerous grandfather in John Boorman's autobiographical "Hope and Glory" (1987). In addition, he made an indelible impression as The Leper in Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" (1995). The Ealingesque comedy "Waking Ned Devine" (1998) also provided a fine showcase for David Kelly and him as two brothers who concoct an impersonation scam after discovering that their old friend Ned Devine has died clutching the winning ticket to the Irish Lottery.

Bannen is perhaps more familiar to American viewers for his extensive television work, both for American and British networks (airing primarily on PBS in the USA). After playing McDuff in an NBC version of "Macbeth" (1960), he later had the romantic leads in remakes of "Johnny Belinda" (ABC, 1967, opposite Mia Farrow) and "Jane Eyre" (NBC, 1971, with Susannah York). Well-cast as Amos in the Franco Zeffirelli's 1971 NBC miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth", the actor fully demonstrated his versatility undertaking a portrayal of Adolph Hitler in "The Gathering Storm", a 1974 NBC entry of "Hallmark Hall of Fame". For the BBC, Bannen acted in the highly acclaimed "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" (1979), starring Alec Guinness, and later in "Doctor Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" (1981) and "Ashenden" (1992). In addition to his appearances in "Perry Mason: The Case of the Desperate Deception" (NBC, 1990) and the TNT miniseries "The Sound and the Silence" (1993), Bannen's recent performances on PBS have been in "The Politician's Wife" ("Masterpiece Theatre", 1996), "Original Sin" ("Mystery!", 1997) and "The Treaty" (1998).

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