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31 October 1915|
Paddington, London, England
|Died||15 December 1984
Archway, London, England
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Alma mater||Royal Academy of Dramatic Art|
|Television||Only Fools and Horses (1981–1984) (His death)|
Lennard Pearce (31 October 1915 – 15 December 1984) was an English actor who worked mostly in the theatre, but also appeared in a number of British television programmes. He landed his most notable TV role during the final years of his life, starring as Grandad in the popular sitcom Only Fools and Horses from its beginning in September 1981 until his death in December 1984.
Pearce studied drama at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, in London and performed for the Entertainments National Service Association during World War II. In the early 1960s, he understudied for Stanley Holloway as Alfred P. Doolittle in the original West End production of My Fair Lady. After 1965, he appeared in many plays at the National Theatre including Much Ado About Nothing and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. He worked with both Laurence Olivier and Anthony Hopkins on stage. In 1966, Pearce starred in Richard Sheridan's The Rivals, alongside David Jason, but they wouldn't meet again until 15 years later.
In 1975, Pearce played the Owl in a Winnie the Pooh play at the Phoenix Theatre, in London, and two years later, in 1977, Mr Witherspoon in Arsenic and Old Lace at the Westminster Theatre. He was also a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Pearce appeared in Dixon of Dock Green in 1965, Dr Finlay's Casebook (1967), Sykes (1972) and Coronation Street in May 1969 and April 1977, along with Play for Today, in 1966 and 1980. Pearce played Ronald Wardle in Crown Court in February 1984. Pearce starred as Grandad in the first 23 episodes of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses between 1981 and 1983, a role with which he is most closely associated.
Pearce also appeared in an episode of Minder named "The Balance of Power", which was shown on Halloween in 1984, along with playing Mr Coles in three episodes of Shroud for a Nightingale in March 1984. Coincidentally, the man who replaced Pearce as the senior member of the Trotter family, Buster Merryfield, also appeared in two episodes of the same series. Pearce's last TV appearance was on BBC 1's Children in Need, on 23 November 1984
Health problems and death
In 1980 Pearce was in a play at the Bristol Old Vic, when he kept losing balance and repeatedly falling asleep. He was diagnosed as having critical hypertension, and put on seven different tablets for it, taking these for the rest of his life. On 12 December 1984, Pearce suffered a heart attack. He was rushed to the Whittington Hospital, admitted, and his condition improved. Two days later, Only Fools and Horses scriptwriter John Sullivan visited him, and assured Pearce that his place in the programme would be open for him when he recovered. However, Pearce suffered a second heart attack, and died instantly, on the night of 15 December 1984 at the age of 69. Sullivan was phoned the following morning to be told the news, and he broke it to Pearce's Only Fools and Horses co-stars David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst, who were devastated by Pearce's sudden death as well as the entire crew.
When Pearce died, production was under way of the Only Fools and Horses episode "Hole in One". Scenes he had filmed on location prior to his death were re-shot with Buster Merryfield as the replacement character Uncle Albert, and the episode was put back in the series. The episode "Strained Relations" begins in the wake of the death of the character Pearce had played.
|1970||Nearest and Dearest||Doctor|
|1981||Bless Me, Father||Clerk of the Court|
|1981–84||Only Fools and Horses||Grandad Trotter (Edward "Ted" Trotter)|
|1966||Cathy Come Home||Ratepayer|
|1974||Antony and Cleopatra||Cleopatra's schoolteacher|
|1980||Hammer House of Horror||Vicar|