Monday, 8 June 2015

Actor Richard Johnson R.I.P.

English actor Richard Johnson, who appeared in films from Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (1951) to Radiator (2014), died on June 5 2015 at the age of 87.

Richard Johnson was born on July 30 1927 in  Upminster, Essex. He attended  Felsted School in Essex before training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His first professional appearance on stage was in 1944 in John Gielgud's production of Hamlet. He served in the Royal Navy from 1945 to 1948. He made his television debut on an edition of BBC Sunday-Night Theatre in 1950. He made his film debut in a small, uncredited role in Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. in 1951.

In the Fifties Mr. Johnson appeared in the films Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951), Scotland Yard Inspector (1952), Saadia (1953), and Never So Few (1959). On television he played Mr.Wickham in a 1952 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. He guest starred on the TV shows How Does It End?, Wednesday Theatre, The Heir of Skipton, ITV Television Playhouse, Lilli Palmer Theatre, Assignment Foreign Legion, The Buccaneers, Armchair Theatre, The Four Just Men, Epilogue to Capricorn, and BBC Sunday-Night Play. On stage he appeared in  Pericles, Prince of Tyre; Cymbeline; and Twelfth Night. He was one of the very first actors to be part of the Royal Shakespeare Company and remained an Associate Artist of the RSC until his death.

In the Sixties Richard Johnson appeared in such films as 80,000 Suspects (1963), The Haunting (1963), The Pumpkin Eater (1964), The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965), Operation Crossbow (1965), Khartoum (1966), Deadlier Than the Male (1967), Oedipus the King (1968), Some Girls Do (1969), and Julius Caesar (1970). He guest starred on such shows as BBC Sunday-Night Play, ITV Play of the Week, Armchair Mystery Theatre, The Human Jungle, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

In the Seventies he appeared in such films as The Beloved (1971), Chi sei? (1974), Hennessy (1975), Aces High (1976), The Comeback (1978), and Zombie (1979). He appeared on such TV shows as ITV Saturday Night Theatre, Thriller, Great Mysteries, Churchill's People, Quiller, Space: 1999, Hart to Hart, and Spy!.

In the Eighties he appeared in such films as The Monster Club (1981), Turtle Diary (1985), What Waits Below (1985), Lady Jane (1986), and Diving In (1990). He appeared on the TV shows The Member for Chelsea; The Kenny Everett Television Show; Tales of the Unexpected; Magnum, P.I.; Dempsey and Makepeace; and Murder, She Wrote.

In the Nineties Richard Johnson starred in the TV shows The Camomile Lawn and Anglo Saxon Attitudes. He guest starred on such shows as Kavanagh QC, Murder Most Horrid, Tales from the Crypt, Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Supply & Demand, and The Echo. He appeared in the film Milk (1999).

From the Naughts into the Teens he appeared in such films as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), The Birthday (2002), Scoop (2006), Two Families (2007), Jump! (2008), The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008), The Man on the Moor (2013), and Radiator (2014). He was a regular on the TV show The Robinsons. He guest starred on such shows as Rebus, Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, Waking the Dead, Spooks, and Inspector Lewis.

Richard Johnson had an extraordinarily long career. It spanned over 60 years. He was also incredibly prolific, appearing in several television shows and films over the years, all the while occasionally returning to the stage. If Mr. Johnson was in such demand, it was perhaps because he was very versatile. He played such diverse characters as Bulldog Drummond (the character using his given name of Hugh Drummond in Deadlier Than the Male and Some Girls Do), Mr. Wickham from Pride and Prejudice, Marc Antony (in a TV production of Anthony and Cleopatra), and Lord Mountbatten  (in the TV movie Whatever Love Means).  Among his most famous film roles were paranormal investigator Dr. John Markway in The Haunting, Mr. Quincy in Scoop, and the grandfather in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Throughout his career he played a diverse number of roles and gave a good performance nearly every time. If Mr. Johnson had such a long career, it is perhaps he was just that talented.

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