Robert Lang (actor)
24 September 1934|
Bristol, Gloucestershire, England
|Died||6 November 2004
Sutton, London, England
Robert Lang (24 September 1934 – 6 November 2004) was an English actor of stage and television. When Laurence Olivier invited him to join the new National Theatre Company, at the Old Vic, Robert Lang was already earning high praise as an actor. From 1971 until his death he was married to Ann Bell, best known for her portrayal of Marion Jefferson in the BBC war drama Tenko. The couple appeared together in Tenko Reunion.
Lang was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, the son of Lily Violet (née Ballard) and Richard Lionel Lang. He was educated at Fairfield Grammar School and St Simon’s Church School. He had intended to become a meteorologist but then trained for the stage at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
Lang made his London debut in 1957 at the Garrick Theatre as Uncle Ernest in Oh! My Papa!.
In 1962, Olivier recruited Lang (along with other actors) for the newly established National Theatre, after Lang had impressed him with his performances as Theseus in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal Court and as the Actor in Maxim Gorki’s The Lower Depths for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Playing Pierre Cauchon, the Bishop of Beauvais, in George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, Lang drew the praise of critic Caryl Brahms for his "quiet grandeur, cogency and gravity".
Lang also showed a finely-judged talent for comic parts. In the deadpan role of diplomat Richard Greatham in the National Theatre revival in 1964 of Noël Coward’s Hay Fever, under the author's own direction, Lang showed his acute feeling for what amuses a theatre audience without appearing to seek to do so.
His small-screen credits include That Was The Week That Was, The New Avengers ("Last of the Cybernauts", 1976), 1990 (1977), Rumpole of the Bailey (1979), King Lear (1983), A Dance to the Music of Time (1997), The Forsyte Saga (2002), Our Mutual Friend (1998), and Heartbeat (2002). He also appeared in The Return of the Borrowers, as Mr Platter in 1993. In the cinema he appeared in Savage Messiah (1972), and The First Great Train Robbery (US title: The Great Train Robbery, 1979), and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). His final film appearance was as Mr Osbourne in Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005), screened a few months after his death from cancer in November 2004 at the age of 70.