Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Late Great Robert Hardy

Robert Hardy, who played Siegfried Farnon on the highly popular TV show All Creatures Great and Small and appeared in numerous shows and films, died today at the age of 91.

Robert Hardy was born on October 29 1925 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. His father was the headmaster at Cheltenham College. He attended Rugby School and Magdalen College at the University of Oxford. Among his tutors when he was at the University of Oxford were legendary authors C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. He served in the Royal Air Force during World War II.

Following the war he began his acting career. He made his television debut in 1951 in an episode of Michèle and René. He played the title role in a BBC mini-series production of David Copperfield and played Henry, Prince of Wales in the series An Age of Kings. He guest starred on the TV shows The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, The Buccaneers, BBC Sunday-Night Theatre, Studio One, Buckskin, and General Electric Theatre. He appeared in a television production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. His film debut was in 1958 in Torpedo Run. After World War II he frequently appeared in Shakespearean roles on stage. In 1959 he played opposite Lord Laurence Olivier in Coriolanus at Stratford-upon-Avon and later in Henry V.

In the Sixties he starred in the television series The Dark Island, The Spread of the Eagle, Daniel Deroda, Manhunt, and Mogul. He guest starred on such shows as Somerset Maugham Hour, The Baron, ITV Playhouse, The Saint, The Wednesday Play, Strange Report, The Doctors, and Armchair Theatre. He appeared in the films The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), How I Won the War (1967), and Berserk (1967).

It was in 1978 that Robert Hardy was cast in the role of cantankerous veterinarian Siegfried Farnon on All Creatures Great and Small. The show ran for three series. It would be revived in 1988 and ran for another four series, with Mr. Hardy once more in the role Siegfried. In the Seventies he also played Robert Dudley (Earl of Leicester) in the mini-series Elizabeth R. He guest starred on such shows as Thirty-Minute Theatre; ITV Saturday Night Theatre; Love Story; Hallmark Hall of Fame; Edward the King; Upstairs, Downstairs; Raffles; Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; and Mrs. Columbo. He appeared in such films as Young Winston (1972), Demons of the Mind (1972), Dark Places (1973), Psychomania (1973), Le silencieux (1973), Gawain and the Green Knight (1973), and Yellow Dog (1973).

In the Eighties Mr. Hardy once more played Siegfried on All Creatures Great and Small. He starred as Winston Churchill in Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years and played him again in the mini-series War and Remembrance. He also appeared in the mini-series The Cleopatras, The Far Pavilions, and Jenny's War. He starred on the show Hot Metal. Robert Hardy guest starred on such shows as Shades of Darkness and Bulman, He appeared in the films The Shooting Party (1985) and Paris by Night (1988).

In the Nineties he continued to appear as Siegfried on All Creatures Great and Small. He starred on the show Look at the State We're In!. He appeared in the mini-series Middlemarch, Gulliver's Travels, and The 10th Kingdom. He guest starred on the shows The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Morse, Bramwell, and Midsomer Murders. He appeared in the films Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), A Feast at Midnight (1994), Sense and Sensibility (1995), Mrs Dalloway (1997), The Tichborne Claimant (1998), and An Ideal Husband (1999).

In the Naughts Robert Hardy appeared in the films The Gathering (2002), Thunderpants (2002), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Making Waves (2004), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Lassie (2005), Goodbye Mr Snuggles (2006), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), Framed (2008), and Old Harry (2009). He guest starred on the shows Foyle's War, Spooks, Agatha Christie's Marple, and Inspector Lewis. He appeared in the mini-series Shackleton and Little Dorrit.

In the Teens Mr. Hardy appeared in the TV movie Churchill: 100 Days That Saved Britain (2015), once more playing Winston Churchill, and in the movie Joseph's Reel (2015).

Robert Hardy was a remarkable actor with a good deal of versatility. Indeed, the two roles for which he was best known were entirely different. The irascible, eccentric Siegfried on All Creatures Great and Small was a far cry from Winston Churchill. What is more, Mr. Hardy played yet other characters that were very different from both Siegfried and Churchill. Cornelius Fudge in the "Harry Potter" movies was more Neville Chamberlain than Winston Churchill. In "The Desperate Diplomat", an episode of The Saint, he played an outright villain--Walter Faber, who is holding a diplomat's daughter hostage. He played a number of historical figures besides Winston Churchill, including King Henry V, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Prince Albert, and King Richard the Lionhearted. Robert Hardy was an immensely talented actor who play a wide array of roles and play all of them well.

1 comment:

Caftan Woman said...

Such a diverse career. I truly think (hope) that Robert Hardy had a great deal of fun in his life and career; as much as he gave to us, his audience.