Joss Ackland

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Joss Ackland

Born
Sidney Edmond Jocelyn Ackland

(1928-02-29) 29 February 1928 (age 92)
North Kensington, London, England
OccupationActor
Spouse(s)
Rosemary Kirkcaldy
(m. 1951; died 2002)
Children7

Sidney Edmond Jocelyn “Joss” Ackland, CBE (born 29 February 1928)[citation needed] is an English actor who has appeared in more than 130 film and television roles.[1] He was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for portraying Jock Delves Broughton in White Mischief (1987).

Early life[edit]

Ackland was born in North Kensington, London, the son of Ruth (Izod) and Sydney Norman Ackland.[2] He was trained by Elsie Fogerty at the Central School of Speech and Drama, then based at the Royal Albert Hall, London.[3] Ackland and the former Rosemary Kirkcaldy, were married on 18 August 1951 when Ackland was 23 and she 22.[citation needed] She was an actress and Ackland wooed her when they appeared on stage together in Pitlochry, Scotland.[citation needed] The couple struggled initially as Ackland's acting career was in its infancy.[citation needed] They moved to Kenya,[when?] where Ackland managed a tea plantation for six months, but, deciding it was too dangerous, they moved to Cape Town, South Africa.[citation needed] Though they both obtained steady acting jobs in South Africa, after two years, they returned to England in 1957.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

Ackland joined the Old Vic, appearing alongside other notable actors including Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Tom Courtenay. Ackland worked steadily in television and film in the 1960s and 70s. He worked opposite Alec Guinness in the 1979 television serial Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, playing sporting journalist and intermittent British espionage operative Jerry Westerby, and his career advanced through the 1980s with important parts in such films as The Sicilian, Lethal Weapon 2, The Hunt for Red October and White Mischief. Ackland also appeared in Passion of Mind with Demi Moore and the two-part TV serial Hogfather based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld. He played C. S. Lewis in the television version of Shadowlands before it was adapted into a stage play starring Nigel Hawthorne and then a theatrical film with Anthony Hopkins in the same role.

His stage roles included creating the role of Juan Perón in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Evita opposite Elaine Paige. He also starred in the London production of Stephen Sondheim's and Hugh Wheeler's A Little Night Music with Jean Simmons and Hermione Gingold, performing on the RCA Victor original London cast album.

Ackland appears in the Pet Shop Boys' 1987 film It Couldn't Happen Here, and in the video for their version of the song Always on My Mind, which was taken from the film. Several years later, he said in an interview with the Radio Times that he appeared with the band purely because his grandchildren liked their music.[citation needed]

In a 2001 interview with the BBC, Ackland said that he appeared in some "awful films" due to being a workaholic. He said that he "regretted" appearing in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey and the Pet Shop Boys music video, while lambasting former co-star Demi Moore as "not very bright or talented".[4]

In 2007 Ackland narrated and provided the voice for the Robert Garofalo biography film/documentary on the notorious occultist Aleister Crowley, titled In Search of the Great Beast 666 that was released on DVD.[citation needed]

Also in 2007, Ackland appeared in the film How About You opposite Vanessa Redgrave, portraying a recovering alcoholic living in a residential home after being forced to retire and losing his wife to cancer.

In 2008 he returned to the small screen as Sir Freddy Butler, a much married baronet, in the ITV1 show Midsomer Murders. The episode, entitled Vixens Run also featured veteran actress Siân Phillips.

In September 2013 Jonathan Miller directed a Gala Performance of William Shakespeare's King Lear at the Old Vic in London. Ackland played Lear.[5]

Ackland was well regarded in the acting community and known the world over as a prankster. Borrowing heavily from his role as Arjen Rudd in Lethal Weapon 2, Ackland was frequently overheard claiming that he had "diplomatic immunity" off-screen.

Personal life[edit]

Ackland and his wife Rosemary were married for 51 years. They had seven children, thirty grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.[6] Despite his filming taking him to far-flung locations, he said they never spent a night apart.[citation needed]

In 1963, their house in Barnes caught fire. Rosemary saved their five children but broke her back when jumping from the bedroom window.[7] She was told she would miscarry and never walk again, but later gave birth and, after two years in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, walked again.[citation needed]

Their eldest son, Paul, died of a heroin overdose in 1982, aged 29.[8] In 2000 Rosemary was diagnosed with motor neurone disease; she died on 25 July 2002.[9]

In 2020, Ackland participated in the Letters Live project, and was recorded from his home in Clovelly, Devon.[10] His letter reflected on the Covid-19 crisis and his hopes for how the country could draw 'strength from adversity'.[11]

Selected TV and filmography[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Ackland, Joss (17 June 2010). My Better Half and Me. Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-193347-0
  • -- (1989). I Must Be In There Somewhere (autobiography). Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 9780340493960

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  2. ^ Joss Ackland Biography (1928–). FilmReference.com.
  3. ^ V&A, Theatre and Performance Special Collections, Elsie Fogerty Archive, THM/324
  4. ^ "Joss Ackland admits 'awful' films." BBC.com.
  5. ^ "The Old Vic - King Lear". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013.
  6. ^ Thu; Jul, 25; 2002 - 20:07 (25 July 2002). "Ackland pays tribute to 'plucky' wife". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 15 November 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Thu; Jul, 25; 2002 - 20:07 (25 July 2002). "Ackland pays tribute to 'plucky' wife". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 15 November 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ White, Roland. "Joss Ackland on love life with wife Rosemary". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  9. ^ "Obituary: Rosemary Ackland". The Daily Telegraph. London. 14 August 2002. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  10. ^ Lloyd, Howard (20 April 2020). "Legendary Devon actor says crisis can 'breathe strength' into UK". DevonLive. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  11. ^ "92-year-old Joss Ackland reads a letter to the world - #ReadALetter". YouTube. 11 April 2020. Retrieved 15 November 2020.

External links[edit]