Frank Finlay

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For the New Zealand politician, see Frank Findlay.
Frank Finlay
Frank Finlay.jpg
Publicity photo of Finlay
Born (1926-08-06)6 August 1926
Farnworth, Lancashire, England
Died 30 January 2016(2016-01-30) (aged 89)
Weybridge, Surrey, England, UK
Occupation Actor
Years active 1958–2009
Spouse(s) Doreen Shepherd (1954–2005, her death)
Children 3
Website http://www.frankfinlay.net

Francis "Frank" Finlay, CBE (6 August 1926 – 30 January 2016) was an English stage, film and television actor. He was Oscar-nominated for his supporting role in Olivier's 1965 film of Othello and got his first leading role on television in 1971 as Casanova,[1] which led to appearances on The Morecambe and Wise Show.[2] He also appeared in the controversial drama Bouquet of Barbed Wire.[3]

Early life[edit]

Finlay was born in Farnworth, Lancashire, the son of Margaret and Josiah Finlay,[4] a butcher. He was educated at St Gregory the Great School but left at the age of 14 to train as a butcher himself at the family firm,[5] gaining a City and Guilds Diploma in the trade.

Stage career[edit]

Finlay made his first stage appearances at the local Farnworth Little Theatre, in plays that included Peter Blackmore's Miranda in 1951. The current Little Theatre president, also in the cast of that Miranda production, remembers him as a perfectionist in his craft. He also played in rep, initially in Scotland, before winning a scholarship to RADA in London.[5]

There followed several roles in productions at the Royal Court Theatre, such as in the Arnold Wesker trilogy. He was particularly associated with the National Theatre, especially during the years when Laurence Olivier was director. Playing Iago opposite Olivier's title character in John Dexter's 1965 production of Othello,[6] and the film adaptation of that production (also 1965), Finlay's performance as the NCO left theatre critics unmoved, but later received high praise for the film version and he received an Academy Award nomination.[7] Critic John Simon wrote that the closeups in the film afforded Finlay the chance to give a more subtle and effective performance than he had onstage.

At the Chichester Festival Theatre, he played roles ranging from the First Gravedigger in Hamlet to Josef Frank in Weapons of Happiness. He also had parts in The Party, Plunder, Saint Joan, Hobson's Choice, Amadeus (as Salieri), Much Ado About Nothing (as Dogberry), The Dutch Courtesan, The Crucible, Mother Courage, and Juno and the Paycock.

Finlay was also seen on Broadway in Epitaph for George Dillon (1958–59) and in the National Theatre and Broadway productions of Filumena (opposite Olivier's wife, Joan Plowright) in 1980.[8]

Television and film[edit]

Finlay as Jacob Marley's Ghost

One of his earliest television roles was in the family space adventure serial Target Luna (1960), as journalist Conway Henderson. Finlay's first major success on television was in the title role of Dennis Potter's BBC 2 series Casanova (1971). Following this, he portrayed Adolf Hitler in The Death of Adolf Hitler (1972) for London Weekend Television.

He portrayed Richard Roundtree's nemesis, Amafi, in Shaft in Africa (1973) before playing Porthos for director Richard Lester in The Three Musketeers (also 1973), The Four Musketeers (1975) and The Return of the Musketeers (1989). He has also appeared in several other films, including The Wild Geese (1978).

He went on to star as the father in the once controversial Bouquet of Barbed Wire (1976), and its sequel Another Bouquet (1977), and he was reunited with his Bouquet of Barbed Wire co-star, Susan Penhaligon, when he played Van Helsing in the BBC Count Dracula (also 1977), with Louis Jourdan. He appeared in two Sherlock Holmes films as Inspector Lestrade, solving the Jack the Ripper murders (A Study in Terror, 1965, and Murder by Decree, 1979). He also played a role in an episode of the Granada Television adaptation of Sherlock Holmes starring Jeremy Brett, in which his son Daniel also played a minor role. Finlay appeared on American television in A Christmas Carol (1984) playing Marley's Ghost opposite George C. Scott's Ebenezer Scrooge. He also guest-starred as the title character in an episode of The Black Adder ("The Witchsmeller Pursuivant", 1983).

Finlay played Sancho Panza opposite Rex Harrison's Don Quixote in the 1973 British made-for-television film The Adventures of Don Quixote,[9] for which he won a BAFTA award.[10] He won another BAFTA award that year for his performance as Voltaire in the BBC TV production of Candide.[citation needed]

Finlay played the role of Justice Peter Mahon in the award-winning New Zealand television serial Erebus: The Aftermath (1988). In the Roman Polanski film The Pianist (2002), he portrayed Adrien Brody's character's father.

He appeared in the TV series Life Begins (2004–06) and as Jane Tennison's father in the last two stories of Prime Suspect (2006 and 2007). In 2007, he guest-starred in the Doctor Who audio adventure 100. In November 2008, Finlay appeared in the eleventh episode of the BBC drama series Merlin, as "Anhora, Keeper of the Unicorns".

Private life and honours[edit]

Finlay met his future wife, Doreen Shepherd, when they were both members of the Farnworth Little Theatre. They had three children, Stephen, Cathy and Daniel, and lived in Shepperton, Middlesex. She died in 2005 aged 79.[5] A devout Roman Catholic,[11] he was a member of the British Catholic Stage Guild (now known as the Catholic Association of Performing Arts).

Finlay was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year's Honours of 1984[12] and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bolton in 2009.[5]

Death[edit]

Finlay died on 30 January 2016 at his home in Weybridge, Surrey, England, from heart failure after an unspecified illness, aged 89.[13][14]

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
1962 Private Potter Captain Patterson
Life for Ruth Henry - Teddy's father
The Longest Day Private Coke
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner Booking Office clerk
1963 Doctor in Distress Corsetiere
The Informers Leon Sale
The Wild Affair Drunk
1964 Hot Enough for June British Embassy porter
The Comedy Man Prout
1965 Othello Iago San Sebastián International Film Festival Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
A Study in Terror Inspector Lestrade Reprised the role fourteen years later in Murder by Decree
1966 The Sandwich Man Second fish porter
1967 The Deadly Bees H.W. Manfred
The Jokers Harassed man
Robbery Robinson
I'll Never Forget What's'isname Chaplain
The Spare Tyres Council foreman
1968 Inspector Clouseau Superintendent Weaver
The Shoes of the Fisherman Igor Bounin
Twisted Nerve Henry Durnley
1970 The Molly Maguires Davies
Cromwell John Carter
1971 Assault Det. Chief Supt. Velyan
Gumshoe William Ginley
1972 Sitting Target Marty Gold
Danny Jones Mr. Jones
Neither the Sea Nor the Sand George Dabernon
1973 Shaft in Africa Amafi
The Three Musketeers Porthos / O'Reilly
1974 The Four Musketeers Porthos Sequel to The Three Musketeers
1977 Count Dracula Abraham Van Helsing TV film
1978 The Wild Geese Father Geoghagen
1979 Ring of Darkness (it) Paul aka Satan's Wife
Murder by Decree Inspector Lestrade
1982 The Return of the Soldier William Grey Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Enigma Canarsky
1983 The Ploughman's Lunch Matthew Fox
The Key Nino Rolfe
1984 A Christmas Carol Jacob Marley's Ghost TV film
Sakharov Kravtsov TV film
1985 1919 Sigmund Freud (voice)
Lifeforce Dr. Hans Fallada
1989 The Return of the Musketeers Porthos Final film in the Musketeers trilogy
1990 King of the Wind Edward Coke
1992 Cthulhu Mansion Chandu
1993 Sparrow Father Nunzio
1995 Gospa Monsignor
1996 Tiré à part John Rathbone
1997 For My Baby Rudi Wittfogel
1998 Stiff Upper Lips Hudson Junior
So This Is Romance? Mike's dad
1999 Dreaming of Joseph Lees Father
2000 Ghosthunter Charlie Fielding Short film
2001 The Martins Mr. Heath
2002 The Pianist Father
Silent Cry Dr. Robert Barrum
2003 The Statement Commissaire Vionnet
Eroica Joseph Haydn TV film
The Lost Prince H.H. Asquith TV film
2004 Lighthouse Hill Alfred
2007 The Waiting Room Roger
2008 Merlin Anhora Episode: "The Labyrinth of Gedref"

References[edit]

  1. ^ BBC News, "Actor Frank Finlay dies aged 89", 31 January 2016. Accessed 1 February 2016
  2. ^ Gary Morecambe, Eric Morecambe: Life's Not Hollywood It's Cricklewood. BBC Books, 2004. p 210.
  3. ^ "Bouquet Of Barbed Wire scandalised Seventies viewers - but will a remake have the same impact?", Daily Mail, 3 September 2010. Accessed 5 February 2016
  4. ^ "Frank Finlay profile". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  6. ^ Fox, Margalit (2016-02-06). "Frank Finlay, 89, Is Dead; Was Iago to Olivier’s Othello". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-11. 
  7. ^ "Session Timeout - Academy Awards® Database - AMPAS". Awardsdatabase.oscars.org. Retrieved 2016-01-31. 
  8. ^ The Broadway League. "Frank Finlay profile". IBDB.com. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  9. ^ Josephdreams. "Frank Finlay website". Frank Finlay. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  10. ^ "BAFTA Television Awards". Bafta.org. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  11. ^ Deborah Ross (24 February 1998). "Interview: Frank Finlay: Getting over the barbed wire". The Independent. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 49583. p. 8. 30 December 1983.
  13. ^ "Frank Finlay dead: British Oscar-nominated actor who played opposite Olivier dies aged 89". Independent.co.uk. 30 January 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  14. ^ "Actor Frank Finlay dies aged 89". BBC News.com. 30 January 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 

External links[edit]