Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Edward Woodward - Lion Of British Cinema

Iconic British actor Edward Woodward, who died at 79 on November 16, 2009, will always be remembered as a lion of British cinema.

Read all about him here. Thanks, Wikipedia.

Edward Albert Arthur Woodward OBE (June 1, 1930 – November 16, 2009) was an English actor and singer.

Originally a Shakespearean stage actor, he was best known for his roles in the 1960s-1970s television spy series Callan, the 1973 film The Wicker Man, the 1980 Australian biographical film Breaker Morant and his lead role in the 1980s American television series The Equaliser.

Woodward was an only child, born in Croydon to working class parents Edward Oliver Woodward and Violet Edith Smith.

He attended the Hinchley Wood School and Kingston College, Surrey.

Woodward wanted to become an actor but initially in the post World War II period became an associate member of RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) while taking amateur roles.

He also played football for the clubs Leyton Orient and Brentford, making three appearances in the Football League for the latter.

However, a serious knee injury kept him out of the game for over a year.

After graduation from RADA he worked extensively in companies as a Shakespearean actor throughout England and Scotland, making his London stage debut in R. F. Delderfield's Where There's A Will in 1955 and its film adaptation the same year.

Woodward first appeared on Broadway in Rattle Of A Simple Man (1963) and the musical comedy High Spirits (1964–1965), which won three Tony Awards, followed by the 1966 comedy The Best Laid Plans.

He made occasional film appearances until he took the role of Police Sergeant Neil Howie in the thriller The Wicker Man in 1973.

Many critics have cited The Wicker Man as one of the greatest visual shots in cinema history.

Woodward was offered a cameo role in the 2005 remake but declined.

He also appeared in the 1982 film Who Dares Wins, also known as The Final Option as Commander Powell.

Woodward also had a supporting role in the 2007 action comedy Hot Fuzz.

His last lead film role was that of Reverend Frederick Densham in A Congregation Of Ghosts, the story of an eccentric vicar.

Woodward appeared in many television productions.

His casting as Guy Crouchback in an early 1967 adaption of Evelyn Waugh's Sword Of Honour trilogy, dramatised by Giles Cooper and directed by Donald McWhinnie, established him as an actor of quality.

Guy Crouchback was the central character in Waugh's iconic novels set against the background of Britain's involvement in World War II.

This black and white TV dramatisation is much less known than a more lavish 2001 colour version with Daniel Craig playing the part of Crouchback.

In 1967 he was cast as David Callan in the play A Magnum For Schneider, which later became the spy series Callan, one of his early television roles.

His iconic performance assured the series success from 1967 to 1972, with a film appearing in 1974.

Woodward made a cameo appearance on the BBC's Morecambe And Wise Show and his name was used in a joke.

When asked by Eric Morecambe who would ever appear in one of Ernie Wise's 'little plays', Ernie replied "Edward Woodward would."

Another children's joke starts "Why does Edward Woodward have so many Ds in his name?"

The response was: "Because otherwise he would be Ewar Woowar".

He also appeared opposite Lord Laurence Olivier in a 1978 adaptation of Saturday, Sunday, Monday in the Laurence Olivier Presents anthology series.

The success of Callan typecast him somewhat, but the enduring success of the genre allowed him to gain leading roles in similar productions, though none would prove as iconic as Callan.

In 1977 he starred in two series of the BBC drama 1990, about a future Britain lurching into totalitarianism.

It was not until he took the lead role in the American television series The Equaliser (1985-89) as a British former intelligence operative that he found recognition and popularity exceeding that of Callan.

After filming a few episodes of the third season, Woodward suffered a massive coronary.

For several episodes, additional actors were brought in to reduce the workload on Woodward as he recovered from the condition.

The first episode filmed following Woodward's heart attack involved his character being severely injured by a KGB bullet, providing Woodward with a chance to rest over several episodes.

Later in the season, Woodward resumed his full duties and carried the show through an additional fourth season from 1988-1989.

Subsequently he starred in the short-lived series Over My Dead Body, which ran in 1990, playing a mystery writer who gets involved solving real crimes.

In 1994 and 1997 Woodward starred in the BBC drama Common As Muck.

In 1993, Woodward appeared in the Welsh-language drama, Tan Ar Y Comin. Versions were made in both English and Welsh, and Woodward appeared in both, being specially coached in the latter since he did not speak a word of the language.

In 1995, he starred with Ten Danson in the film version of Gulliver's Travels.

Earlier in 1983, he starred with Candice Bergen in Merlin And The Sword.

His career continued with TV guest star roles including an appearance in The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the series La Femme Nikita.

He also guest starred with his son Tim and grandson Sam as a London gangster family in The Bill in 2008.

In 2009, he joined East Enders, playing Tommy Clifford.

His capability as tenor enabled him to record 12 albums of songs, as well as three albums of poetry and 14 books to tape.

Woodward was a wargamer and hosted a series of programmes for Tyne Tees Television about the hobby with fellow enthusiast Peter Gilder.

Woodward was married twice. His first marriage was to the actress Venetia Barrett (born Venetia Mary Collett) from 1952 to 1986.

They had two sons: Tim Woodward (born 1953) and Peter Woodward (born 1956), both of whom became actors, as well as a daughter, the Tony Award-nominated actress Sarah Woodward (born 1963).

Woodward left Barrett for actress Michele Dotrice, the daughter of his contemporary Roy Dotrice.

Woodward married Dotrice in New York in 1987.

Their daughter, Emily Woodward (born 1983), was present at the ceremony.

In 1969 and 1970, he was Television Actor Of The Year and Best Actor at the Sun Awards in 1970, 1971 and 1972.

Woodward won the 1970 BAFTA Award for Best Actor for his title role in Callan.

He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1978.

At the 1987 Golden Globe Awards, he won Best Actor In A Dramatic TV Series for his role of Robert McCall in The Equaliser.

At the Emmy Awards from 1986 to 1990, he was nominated each year for The Equaliser.