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sir alec guinnessthe kings

Alec Guinness was one of the last surviving members of a great generation of UK actors, which included Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson. He juggled working in advertising while studying at the Fay Compton Studio of Dramatic Art, graduating to debut on stage in 1934 and play classic theatre with the Old Vic from 1936.

In 1941 he entered the Royal navy as a seaman and was commissioned the next year. Beyond an extra part in 'Evensong' (1934), his film career began after World War II with his portrayal of "Herbert Pocket" in 'Great Expectations' (1946). A string of films, mostly comedies, showed off his ability to look different in every role - eight of them, including a woman, in one movie alone, 'Kind Hearts and Coronets' (1949).

He was best known as the Jedi Knight "Obi-Wan Kenobi" in the 'Star Wars' (1977) trilogy. He earned a best actor Oscar and Golden Globe in 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' (1957) and an Honorary Academy Award (1980) for "advancing the art of screen acting through a host of memorable and distinguished performances". Academy nominations have included 'The Lavender Hill Mob' (1951), 'The Horse's Mouth' (1958) (as screenwriter), 'Star Wars' (1977) and 'Little Dorrit' (1988).

He was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1955 and knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1959 for his accomplishments in theatre and film. Sir Alec was created a Companion of Honour in 1994.

Sir Alec made his final stage appearance at the Comedy Theatre in London on May 30 1989, in a production called 'A Walk in the Woods', where he played a Russian diplomat. Always a plain speaker, with many quirks, in his last book of memoirs, "A Positively Final Appearance" (1999), he expressed a devotion to the TV show 'The Simpsons'. He was also rumoured to be a fan of the television series 'Due South'. He wrote two other autobiographies: "Blessings in Disguise" in 1985 and "My Name Escapes Me: Diary of a Retiring Actor" in 1997 (written with John LeCarre).

Described as "one of the finest actors of the century", one of his most famous quotes is: "Failure has a thousand explanations. Success doesn't need one."

Sir Alec passed away on 5 August 2000, from liver cancer. His widow, Merula, passed away on October 17 2000, just two months after her husband.

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FILM

  • Mute Witness (1994) (as Mystery Guest Star) .... The Reaper
  • A Foreign Field (1993) .... Amos
  • Kafka (1991) .... The Chief Clerk
  • Little Dorrit (1988) .... William Dorrit
  • A Handful of Dust (1988) .... Mr. Todd
  • A Passage to India (1984) .... Prof. Godbole
  • Star Wars (1983) (VG) (voice) .... Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) .... Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi
  • Lovesick (1983) .... Sigmund Freud
  • Raise the Titanic (1980) .... John Bigalow
  • Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) .... Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi
  • Star Wars (1977) .... Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi
  • Murder by Death (1976) .... Jamesir Bensonmum / Irving Goldman / Marvin Metzler / Miss Irene Twain / Rita / Sam Diamond
  • Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973) .... Adolf Hitler
  • Fratello sole, sorella luna (1972) .... Pope Innocent III
  • Scrooge (1970) .... Jacob Marley's Ghost
  • Cromwell (1970) .... King Charles I
  • The Comedians (1967) .... Major Jones
  • The Quiller Memorandum (1966) .... Pol
  • Hotel Paradiso (1966) .... Benedict Boniface
  • Situation Hopeless... But Not Serious (1965) .... Wilhelm Frick
  • Doctor Zhivago (1965) .... Gen. Yevgraf Zhivago
  • The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) .... Marcus Aurelius
  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962) .... Prince Feisal
  • H.M.S. Defiant (1962) .... Capt. Crawford
  • A Majority of One (1961) .... Koichi Asano
  • Tunes of Glory (1960) .... Maj. Jock Sinclair
  • Our Man in Havana (1959) .... Jim Wormold
  • The Scapegoat (1959) .... John Barratt/Jacques De Gue
  • The Horse's Mouth (1958) .... Gulley Jimson
  • Barnacle Bill (1957) .... William Horatio Ambrose/six ancestors
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) .... Colonel Nicholson
  • The Swan (1956) .... Prince Albert
  • The Ladykillers (1955) .... Professor Marcus
  • The Prisoner (1955) .... The Cardinal
  • To Paris with Love (1955) .... Col. Sir Edgar Fraser
  • Father Brown (1954) .... Father Brown
  • The Malta Story (1953) .... Flight Lt. Peter Ross
  • The Square Mile (1953) (voice) .... Narrator
  • The Captain's Paradise (1953) .... Captain Henry St. James
  • The Card (1952) .... Edward Henry 'Denry' Machin
  • The Man in the White Suit (1951) .... Sidney Stratton
  • The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) .... Henry Holland
  • The Mudlark (1950) .... Benjamin Disraeli
  • Last Holiday (1950) .... George Bird
  • A Run for Your Money (1949) .... Whimple
  • Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) .... The Duke / The Banker / The Parson / The General / The Admiral / Young Ascoyne / Young Henry / Lady Agatha
  • Oliver Twist (1948) .... Fagin
  • Great Expectations (1946) .... Herbert Pocket, Pip's roommate at Barnards Inn
  • Evensong (1934) (uncredited) .... Extra (W.W.I. soldier in concert audience)

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TELEVISION

  • Eskimo Day (1996) .... James
  • Tales from Hollywood (1992) .... Heinrich Mann
  • Monsignor Quixote (1985) .... Father Quixote
  • Edwin (1984) .... Sir Fennimore Truscott
  • Smiley's People (1982) (mini) .... George Smiley
  • Little Lord Fauntleroy (1980) .... Earl of Dorincourt
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1980) (mini) .... George Smiley
  • The Gift of Friendship (1974)
  • E.E. Cummings (1970)
  • Twelfth Night (1969) .... Malvolio
  • The Wicked Scheme of Jebal Deeks (1959)
  • Baker's Dozen (1955)

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THEATRE

  • Played Richard III in Stratford Festival's tent theatre during its inaugural season (1953)
  • Hamlet in Hamlet
  • Romeo in Romeo and Juliet
  • Dylan Thomas in Dylan
  • The Visitor in Converstions at Night
  • Gloucester in Richard III
  • Fool in King Lear
  • Osric in Hamlet
  • Jack in Importance Of Being Ernest
  • The Cardinal in The Prisoner
  • Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night

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