Rupert Davies FRSA (22 May 1916 – 22 November 1976) was a British actor best remembered for playing the title role in the BBC's 1960s television adaptation of Maigret, based on Georges Simenon's Maigret novels.
Life and career
Davies was born in Liverpool, Lancashire. After service in the British Merchant Navy he was a Sub-Lieutenant Observer with the Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War. In 1940, the Swordfish aircraft in which he was flying ditched in the sea off the Dutch coast, following which Davies was captured and interned in the Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp. He made three attempts to escape, all of which failed. During his captivity he began to take part in theatre performances, entertaining his fellow prisoners.
On his release Davies resumed his career in acting almost immediately, starring in an ex-prisoner of war show, Back Home, which was hosted at the Stoll Theatre, London. In 1959, he played the role of the Colonel in Alun Owen's The Rough and Ready Lot when it received its stage debut on 1 June 1959 in a production by the 59 Theatre Company at the Lyric Opera House, Hammersmith, as well as in the television adaptation which was broadcast that September.
He became a staple of British television, appearing in numerous plays and series, including Quatermass II, Ivanhoe, Emergency - Ward 10, Danger Man, The Champions, Doctor at Large (1971), Arthur of the Britons and War and Peace (1972). He also provided the voice of Professor Ian "Mac" McClaine in the Gerry Anderson series Joe 90. A pipe smoker, like Jules Maigret, in 1964, having released a 45rpm single "Smoking My Pipe" late the previous year that capitalised on the iconic Maigret opening sequence, he became the first person to win the Pipe Smoker of the Year award.
He was the subject of This Is Your Life in October 1962 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews in central London.
Davies also played supporting roles in many films, appearing briefly as George Smiley in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965). He also appeared in several horror films in the late 1960s, including Witchfinder General (1968) and Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), as well as such international films as Waterloo (1970) and Zeppelin (1971).
He died of cancer in London in 1976, leaving a wife, Jessica, and two sons, Timothy and Hogan. Davies is buried at Pistyll Cemetery, near Nefyn in North Wales.