Alan Howard 1937-2015

Acclaimed actor dies, aged 77

Alan Howard 1937-2015

by Owen Williams |
Published on

Widely described as an "icon" of British theatre, the actor Alan Howard has died, aged 77. He had been suffering from pneumonia.

Born in Croydon, it was almost inevitable that he would gravitate towards the stage: his father was the actor Arthur Howard and his uncle was Leslie Howard. He made his debut in front of an audience in Half In Earnest at the age of 21, and by the time he was 30 had found his "spiritual home" at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

His career at the RSC spanned decades and almost countless roles, but perhaps his most significant achievement was gradually racking up all of Shakespeare's historical kings (as well as King Lear and Macbeth). His Henry IV was actually Bolingbroke in Richard II (rather than the title role in Henry IV Part I), but the feat remains an enviable one among his peers.

Away from Stratford his appearances included as Vladimir opposite Ben Kingsley's Estragon in Peter Hall's production of Waiting For Godot, and as Tiresias in Ralph Fiennes' Oedipus.

He never, like his Troilus And Cressida co-stars Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, supplemented his stage work with blockbuster screen roles, but there were films nevertheless. He was the unfortunate squeeze of Helen Mirren in Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover; Oli in The Heroes Of Telemark; and the voice of The One Ring in the first and third instalments of Peter Jackson's The Lord Of The Rings. On television he showed up in the likes of Poirot, Midsomer Murders and the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series.

His last appearance on stage was in a production of The School For Scandal at the Barbican in 2011, and his last on screen was in the BBC's 2012 Ford Madox Ford adaptation Parade's End.

He is survived by his wife Sally Beauman, and their son James.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us