Keith Michell

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Keith Michell
Keith Michell colour Allan Warren.jpg
Michell in 1973, by Allan Warren
Born Keith Joseph Michell
(1926-12-01) 1 December 1926 (age 88)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Years active 1951-2010
Spouse(s) Jeanette Sterke (1957-present) 2 children
Children Paul Michell
Helena Michell (b. 1963)

Keith Michell (born 1 December 1926) is an Australian actor, particularly noted for his television and film performances as King Henry VIII of England.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Adelaide, South Australia and brought up in Warnertown, near Port Pirie. The theatre in Port Pirie is named after him.


Michell taught art until he made his theatre debut in Adelaide in 1947 and he first appeared in London in 1951. He has starred in several musicals, including the first London production of Man of La Mancha, in which he played the dual role of Miguel de Cervantes and his fictional creation, Don Quixote.[1] (An album set was also made of this performance.[2]) In 1964 he starred as Robert Browning in the musical Robert And Elizabeth, opposite Australian soprano June Bronhill.[3]

Michell at Chichester Festival Theatre in 1962

Michell has acted with the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company, as well as appearing extensively in film and television, notably as King Henry VIII in The Six Wives of Henry VIII in 1970, and as Heathcliff in BBC Television's 1962 adaptation of Wuthering Heights.[4] He was the artistic director of the Chichester Festival Theatre from 1974 to 1977.[5]

On American television, Michell has made appearances on the mystery series Murder, She Wrote, playing Dennis Stanton, a former jewel thief turned insurance claims investigator who always solved his cases with unusual methods and sent a copy of the story to his friend Jessica Fletcher afterwards.[5]

As well as acting, Michell pursues other interests: he wrote the musical Pete McGynty and the Dreamtime, an Australian rendering of Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt, the performance of which used Michell's own paintings as backdrops.[6] He is a painter and has illustrated a limited edition run of William Shakespeare's sonnets, for which he also did the calligraphy; and he has written and illustrated a number of macrobiotic cookbooks. Michell himself is a proponent of the macrobiotic diet and philosophy.

Michell was also the illustrator of Captain Beaky, a collection of Jeremy Lloyd's poems.[1] The Captain Beaky character enjoyed success in the UK in the early 1980s, among both children and adults. The song "Captain Beaky", sung by Michell, peaked at No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart in 1980.[7]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to the actress Jeanette Sterke and they have a son, Paul, and a daughter, Helena, who appeared in the films Prick Up Your Ears and Maurice.



External links[edit]