Thursday, May 19, 2011

Edward Hardwicke Passes On

Actor Edward Hardwicke, perhaps best known for playing Watson opposite Jeremy Brett in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Return of Sherlock Holmes, passed on 16 May 2011. He was 78 years old. The cause was cancer.

 Edward Hardwicke was born in London on 7 August 1932, the son of actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Helena Pickard. He made his film début when he was only ten years old, in 1943 in the movie A Guy Named Joe. He attended Stowe School and spent his National Service in Royal Air Force as a Pilot Officer. Afterwards he trained in acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He would have a very successful career in the theatre, appearing at the Bristol Old Vic, the Oxford Playhouse, the Nottingham Playhouse, and Sir Laurence Olivier's National Theatre.

In 1954 Edward Hardwicke appeared in the films Hell Below Zero and The Men of Sherwood ForestFrom the late Fifties into the Sixties he appeared in such TV shows as ITV Television Playhouse, Invisible Man, Danger Man, ITV Play of the Week, Sherlock Holmes (a different series from the one in which he starred with Jeremy Brett), Journey into the Unknown, and Biography. He appeared in the films Othello (1965), A Flea in His Ear (1968), and Otley  (1968).

The Seventies saw Mr. Hardwicke became very active on television. He starred as Captain Pat Grant in the series Colditz, appeared as Arthur on the series My Old Man, and as Enrico Fermi in Oppenheimer. He also appeared on such shows as Crown Court, Edward the King, Against the Crowd, Holocaust, and Tycoon. He appeared in such films as The Reckoning (1971), The Day of Jackal (1973),  The Black Windmill (1974), and The Odd Job (1978).

In the Eighties Edward Hardwicke played Sir Hector Rose in the series Strangers and Brothers. He appeared in such shows as The Bell, Lytton's Diary, and The Disctrict Nurse. It was in 1984 that he first played Dr. Watson, appearing in the series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. He would once more play Watson in The Return of Sherlock Holmes. He appeared in the film Venom (1981).  In the Nineties Edward Hardwicke once more played Watson in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. He appeared on the shows Lovejoy, Peak Practice, and Verdict. He appeared in the movies Let Him Have It (1991), Shadowlands (1993), The Scarlet Letter (1995), Hollow Reed (1996), Elizabeth (1998), and Ain't Misbehavin' (2000). He appeared as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Photographing Fairies (1997), making one of the few actors to have played both an actor and a character he had created. In the Naughts he appeared in the films She (2001), Enigma (2001), Love Actually (2003), and Oliver Twist (2005).

There are those who believe Edward Hardwicke was the best Dr. Watson to appear on television or film. Having a soft spot for Nigel Bruce (not to mention Jude Law), I am not sure I agree, but there can be no doubt Edward Hardwicke was very, very good, not just as Watson, but in many other roles. He played everything from Mr. Bronlow in Oliver Twist to Marcus in Titus Andronicus. Like many British actors trained on the stage, he seemed capable of playing anything and being convincing doing it. Few actors were ever as good as Edward Hardwicke at his craft.

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