Tom Bell (actor)
Thomas George Bell
2 August 1933
Liverpool, Lancashire, England
|Died||4 October 2006 (aged 73)|
Brighton, Sussex, England
|Years active||1959– 2006|
|Adolf Eichmann in Holocaust|
Bill Otley in Prime Suspect
Jack McVitie in The Krays
(m. 1960; div. 1976)
|Partner(s)||Frances Tempest (1976–his death 2006)|
Thomas George Bell (2 August 1933 – 4 October 2006) was an English actor on stage, film and television. He was dark-haired and lean, and in his later years often played characters having a sinister side to their nature.
Bell was born on 2 August 1933 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. Evacuated as a child during the Second World War, he lived with three different families in Morecambe, Lancashire. In 1948, at age 15, Bell began to act in his first school plays, and though he never dominated the performances he nonetheless demonstrated acting ability.
As a young actor, he gained somewhat of a reputation for being a hellraiser who liked a drink. At an awards ceremony, drunk, he interrupted a speech by the guest of honour, Prince Philip, by yelling "Tell us a funny story" – to the obvious embarrassment of table companions, Richard Attenborough and Bryan Forbes. Although (it is said) the Prince took the heckle in good humour with his retort "If you want a funny story, I suggest you engage a professional comic", the incident didn't do Bell's career any favours. In 1978 he came to worldwide attention portraying Adolf Eichmann in the Emmy-winning tv-series Holocaust, and he received a BAFTA nomination for the series Out, in which he played convicted armed robber, Frank Ross.
In the 1980s and 1990s he appeared in several British films including Wish You Were Here, Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books, Swing and the 1990 film The Krays, where he played the part of Jack "The Hat" McVitie, one of the Kray twins' murder victims.
He played the dour owner of a run-down seaside waxworks museum in Thames tv's sitcom Hope It Rains, written by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey and directed by John Howard Davies. There were two series (13 episodes in all) aired in 1991–92.
Although he tended to eschew live performance, his few stage appearances included a rôle in the 1979 UK première of Bent, Martin Sherman's play about homosexuality, staged at the Royal Court Theatre. He played the character Horst opposite Ian McKellen's Max. The play's setting of homosexuals and love in a Nazi death camp was shocking for many theatregoers at the time and uncovered a previously little-examined area of Nazi brutality.
Bell played a policeman Detective Sergeant Bill Otley opposite Helen Mirren in the first and third series of the ITV series Prime Suspect. In 1993, in the third series, he received his second BAFTA nomination. One of his final screen appearances was a supporting role in 2006 in the seventh: Prime Suspect: The Final Act.
Bell had enjoyed working with TV director Danny Hiller and when his friend and adviser, showbiz accountant Jose Goumal (also a close friend and adviser to Hiller) asked Bell he agreed to appear in Hiller's first feature film Love Me Still. It was evident throughout filming that Tom was not well but he soldiered on and completed filming only a few days before the end of his life.
Bell died in hospital in Brighton on 4 October 2006, aged 73, following a short illness. He was survived by his partner Frances Tempest, a son (from an earlier marriage to the actress Lois Daine), a daughter, and a stepdaughter.
- The Criminal (1960) – Flynn
- Payroll (1961) – Blackie
- The Kitchen (1961) – Paul
- Echo of Barbara (1961) – Ben
- H.M.S. Defiant (1962) – Evans
- A Prize of Arms (1962) – Fenner
- The L-Shaped Room (1962) – Toby
- Sands of Beersheba (1964) – Dan
- Ballad in Blue (1965) – Steve Collins
- He Who Rides a Tiger (1965) – Peter Rayston
- The Violent Enemy (1968) – Sean Rogan
- The Long Day's Dying (1968) – Tom Cooper
- In Enemy Country (1968) – Ian
- Lock Up Your Daughters! (1969) – Shaftoe
- All the Right Noises (1971) – Len Lewin
- Quest for Love (1971) – Colin Trafford
- The Spy′s Wife (1972) – Tom Tyler
- Straight on Till Morning (1972) – Jimmy Lindsay
- Royal Flash (1975) – De Gautet
- The Sailor's Return (1978) – William Targett
- Summer Lightning (1984) – Mr Clark
- The Innocent (1985) – Frank Dobson
- The Magic Toyshop (1987) – Uncle Philip
- Wish You Were Here (1987) – Eric
- Resurrected (1989) – Mr. Deakin
- The Krays (1990) – Jack 'The Hat' McVitie
- Prospero's Books (1991) – Antonio
- Let Him Have It (1991) – Fairfax
- Angels (1992) – Michael
- Sensatsiya (1993) – American Scientist
- Seconds Out (1993) – Jack
- Feast of July (1995) – Ben Wainwright
- Preaching to the Perverted (1997) – Henry Harding MP
- Swept from the Sea (1997) – Isaac Foster
- The Boxer (1997) – Joe MaGuire's father (uncredited)
- Swing (1999) – Sid Luxford
- Tube Tales (1999) – Old Gent (segment "Horny")
- The Last Minute (2001) – Grimshanks
- Lava (2001) – Eric
- My Kingdom (2001) – Quick
- Long Time Dead (2002) – Becker
- Oh Marbella! (2003) – Ronnie, Ackerman
- Devil's Gate (2003) – Jake
- Dead Man's Cards (2005) – Billy The Cowboy
- Friends and Enemies (2006)
- Love Me Still (2008) – Lenny Ronson
- 1967: The Virginian Series 6 Episode 5 – Cpl. Johnny Moon
- 1972: Hedda Gabler – Eilert Lovborg
- 1974: The Protectors – Shadbolt
- 1981: Sons and Lovers – Walter Morel
- 1983: Reilly: Ace of Spies – Felix Dzerzhinsky
- 1988: The Rainbow - Old Tom Brangwen
- 1990: Chancer – Mr. Love, Derek's father
- 1991: Prime Suspect (series 1) – D.S. Bill Otley
- 1991–92: Hope It Rains (UK sitcom series) – Harry Nash
- 1999 Dalziel and Pascoe ("Recalled to Life")
- "Tom Bell". BFI.
- "BFI Screenonline: Bell, Tom (1932–2006) Biography".
- Maslin, Janet (24 July 1987). "Wish You Were Here (1987) FILM: 'WISH YOU WERE HERE'". The New York Times.
- "Prime Suspect actor Tom Bell dies". BBC News. 5 October 2006.
- "Hope It Rains" – via www.imdb.com.
- Coveney, Michael (6 October 2006). "Obituary: Tom Bell". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 August 2010.
- "Tom Bell". The Daily Telegraph. 7 October 2006.
- 1991: Quinlan's Illustrated Directory of Film Stars by David Quinlan, B.T. Batsford Limited – London, England. ISBN 0-7134-6324-4
- 2004: Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies (edited by John Walker), HarperCollins – London, England.