Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Frank Finlay R.I.P.

Frank Finlay, the British actor who played Porthos in The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974) as well as starred in the TV show Bouquet of Barbed Wire, died on January 30 2016 at the age of 89.

Frank Finlay was born in Farnworth, Lancashire on August 6 1926. He attended St Gregory the Great School but left at age 14 to train in his father's vocation of being a butcher. He received a  City and Guilds Diploma as a butcher. His first stage appearance was in 1951 at the Farnworth Little Theatre. He played in repertory as well before winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Afterwards he appeared in productions at the  Royal Court Theatre. He worked a good deal with the National Theatre. He later appeared on Broadway in Epitaph for George Dillon (1958–59) and Filumena (1980).

Frank Finlay made his television debut in a 1956 production of The Twopenny Diamond. He starred in the 1960 sci-fi series Target Luna. He appeared in such TV shows as Onion Boys, BBC Sunday-Night Theatre, Big Guns, and ITV Play of the Week.

In the Sixties Mr. Finlay made his film debut in Private Potter (1962). He appeared in such films as Life for Ruth (1962),  Doctor in Distress (1963), The Informers (1963), The Wild Affair (1963), Hot Enough for June (1964), The Comedy Man (1964), A Study in Terror (1965), Othello (1965), The Sandwich Man (1966), The Deadly Bees (1966), The Jokers (1967), Robbery (1967), I'll Never Forget What's'isname (1967), The Spare Tyres (1967), Inspector Clouseau (1968), The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968), Twisted Nerve (1968), The Molly Maguires (1970), and Cromwell (1970). He starred in a television mini-series adaptation of Les Misérables. He appeared on such shows as Studio 4, Z Cars, Thirteen Against Fate, and Armchair Theatre.

In the Seventies Frank Finlay starred in the TV shows Casanova, Bouquet of Barbed Wire and Another Bouquet. He appeared in the films Assault (1971), Gumshoe (1971), Danny Jones (1971), Sitting Target (1972), Neither the Sea Nor the Sand (1972), Shaft in Africa (1973), The Three Musketeers (1973), The Four Musketeers (1974), The Wild Geese (1978), Murder by Decree (1979), and Ring of Darkness (1979).

In the Eighties Frank Finlay appeared in such films as The Return of the Soldier (1982), Enigma (1982), The Ploughman's Lunch (1983), Lifeforce (1985), The Return of the Musketeers (1989), and King of the Wind (1990). He appeared on the TV shows Tales of the Unexpected, The Black Adder, and The Two Ronnies.

In the Nineties Mr Finlay starred in the TV shows Common as Muck, How Do You Want Me, and The Sins. He appeared on the TV shows The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Lovejoy, Heartbeat, and The Grand. He appeared in the films La mansión de los Cthulhu (1992), Gospa (1995), For My Baby (1997), So This is Romance? (1997), Stiff Upper Lips (1998), Dreaming of Joseph Lees (1999), and Ghosthunter (2000).

In the Naughts Frank Finlay starred in the TV shows Johnny and the Bomb, Life Begins, Prime Suspect, and Four Seasons. He appeared in the films The Martins (2001), The Pianist (2002), Silent Cry (2002), The Statement (2003), Lighthouse Hill (2004), and The Waiting Room (2007).

There was a very good reason Frank Finlay was so prolific. Quite simply, he was extremely versatile. He played his fair share of heroes. He was Porthos in no less than three movies. He played Inspector Lestrade in two separate films. Curiously both movies featured Sherlock Holmes facing Jack the Ripper (Study in Terror and Murder by Decree). Over the years he played Jean Valjean, Casanova, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He was also quite good at playing villains. He was Iago in the 1965 film version of Othello. He played the lead villain in Shaft in Africa. He played both Shylock and Brutus. Frank Finlay was an actor who could play nearly any role and he always played them well.

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