Ray McAnally (30 March 1926 – 15 June 1989) was an Irish actor famous for his performances in films such as The Mission and My Left Foot.
Ray McAnally was born in Buncrana, a seaside town located on the Inishowen peninsula of County Donegal, Ireland. The son of a bank manager, he was educated at Saint Eunan's College in Letterkenny where he wrote, produced and staged a musical called 'Madame Screwball' at the age of 16. He entered a seminary at the age of 18. However, he left the seminary after a short time having decided that the priesthood was not his vocation. He joined the Abbey Theatre in 1947 where he met and married actress Ronnie Masterson.
The couple would later form Old Quay Productions and present an assortment of classic plays in the 1960s and 1970s. He made his theatre debut in 1962 with A Nice Bunch of Cheap Flowers and gave a well-received performance as George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, opposite Constance Cummings, at the Piccadilly Theatre.
On television he was a familiar face, often in glossy thriller series like Television series The Avengers,Man in a Suitcase and Strange Report. In 1968 he took the title role in Spindoe, a series charting the return to power of an English gangster, Alec Spindoe, after a five-year prison term. This was a spin-off from another series, The Fellows (1967) in which McAnally had appeared in several episode as the Spindoe character.Could master the British Accent to great effect and to great acclaim. He regularly acted in the Abbey Theatre and Irish festivals, but then, in the last decade of life, achieved award-winning notice on TV and films. His impressive performance as Cardinal Altamirano in the film The Mission (1986) earned him Evening Standard and BAFTA awards. His role in the BBC's A Perfect Spy (1987) also earned him a second BAFTA award. In 1988 he won the BAFTA for Best Actor for his performance in A Very British Coup, a role that also brought him a Jacob's Award. In the last year of his life, he portrayed the father of Christy Brown (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) in the Academy Award-winning film, My Left Foot (1989).
McAnally died suddenly of a heart attack on 15 June 1989, aged 63 at his home which he shared with his partner, Irish actress Britta Smith. He received a posthumous BAFTA award for his last movie in 1990.
At the time of his death, he was due to play "Bull McCabe" in Jim Sheridan's film The Field, the part eventually going to Richard Harris (who would receive an Oscar nomination for his performance). McAnally had also been cast in the lead role of First and Last, a drama about a man who walked from Land's End to John o' Groats. Filming was almost a third of the way done when he died, but the whole play had to be re-filmed, with Joss Ackland taking the role instead.
McAnally had four children; Conor, Aonghus, Máire and Niamh. Conor is a producer, based in Texas, and Aonghus is a television presenter in Ireland.
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