Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Final farewell

Patrick Newley pays tribute to some of those in the entertainment world who have died in recent months

* Reuven Adiv was the much respected head of acting at the Drama Centre in London. Born in Jerusalem on June 5, 1930, he fought on the Jerusalem front in the war of independence. He went on to become an actor in Israel before studying in New York under Lee Strasberg at the Actor’s Studio. In 1981 he was invited to become a guest teacher at the Drama Centre and was appointed head of acting in 1984. He died on December 23, 2004.

* Harry Baird, Britain’s foremost young black actor of the late fifties, died on February 13, aged 73. Born in Guyana on May 12, 1931, he came to the UK in 1948 and shot to fame when he appeared in the film A Kid For Two Farthings (1954). Later television work led to his most significant role as Johnnie Fiddle, boyfriend of a murder victim in the film Sapphire (1959). Other films included The Whisperers and he was one of Michael Caine’s gang in The Italian Job (1969).

* Choreographer, actress and singer Erin Lordan was one of the original members of the dance troupe Hot Gossip before appearing in West End musicals such as Starlight Express and Cats. Born on November 8, 1963, she also acted on television in Bad Girls and Footballers’ Wives as well as having small roles in films including Dead Fish and Wimbledon. She died from cancer on February 26.

* Actor John Marquand began his career in rep with the Wilson-Barrett Company in Glasgow and Edinburgh before becoming a leading man in many West End shows, notably the musical Zip Goes A Million, with George Formby. He died on April 27, aged 92.

* Oscar-winning actress Anne Bancroft, who starred opposite Dustin Hoffman in the film classic The Graduate died on June 8, aged 73. She had five Oscar nominations, including one for playing the teacher of a young Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker in 1963. She married comedian Mel Brooks in 1964. Her most famous role came in 1967 as the woman who seduced her daughter’s boyfriend, played by Hoffman. Lights were dimmed in her honour on Broadway, where Bancroft gave Tony-winning performances in the late fifties. She recently attracted more accolades in television movies, with six Emmy nominations since 1992.

* In 1989 arts consultant and administrator Helen Denniston played a key role in the Colour of Europe festival at the South Bank Centre. That led to her directorship of Africa 95, the six month season of African arts which took place across Britain. In 2001 she founded Helen Denniston Associates, a consultancy devoted to social inclusion through the arts. She died from cancer on June 10, aged 53.

* The French actress Suzanne Flon was known internationally from her appearances in some 50 films. She worked with some of the world’s most famous directors such as Orson Welles (Mr Arkadin), John Huston (Moulin Rouge), Joseph Losey (Monsieur Klein) and John Frankenheimer (The Train). Born on January 28, 1918, she was also an acclaimed stage actress and won two Moliere awards for her performances. She died on June 15.

* Classical actor Dennis Clinton played 13 seasons at Stratford and was a stalwart of the RSC, National Theatre, Royal Court and many repertory companies. Born on July 13, 1925, his cousins were the actresses Hermione and Angela Baddeley. He appeared several times on Broadway. He died on June 20.

* Famous for her voiceovers in ice-skating spectaculars such as Holiday on Ice, variety artist Iris Villiers died on June 21. Born on September 25, 1920, she married the skating impresario Gerry Bourne and was also Queen Ratling of the Grand Order of Lady Ratlings in 1981 and 1987.

* The Welsh opera and concert singer Anne Edwards was a vivid exponent of Verdi heroines such as Odabella in Attila and Abigaille in Nabucco. Born on October 7, 1930, she sang at Covent Garden, Sadler’s Wells and the London Coliseum. Her husband was the clarinettist Colin Courtney. She died in Carmarthen on July 1.

* Ralph Aspland Howden was known as Boston’s Mr Cinema. He managed the famous Regal Cinema in Boston, Lincolnshire from 1937 until its closure in 1976. As well as showing films, the Regal was used as a variety theatre. In 1955 Howden also became manager of the Boston Scala Theatre. He died on July 2, aged 91.

* Revered within the film industry as one of its greatest writers, Ernest Lehman wrote the scripts for classics such as North By North West, The King and I, The Sound of Music, West Side Story and Hello Dolly!. Born on December 8, 1915, he also dramatised his own novella for Sweet Smell of Success and transformed Edward Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? into the perfect vehicle for Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s stormy relationship. He won a record five Writers Guild awards and was nominated for six Oscars. He died on July 2, aged 89.

* Well loved front of house manager Sama Swaminathan appeared as an actor in the Mermaid’s production of Lock Up Your Daughters (1959) before moving on to front of house work for the RSC at Stratford upon Avon and then the Barbican Theatre. He died on July 14.

* The screenwriter, biographer and film critic Gavin Lambert died on July 17, 2005, aged 80. He wrote biographies of Norma Shearer, Lindsay Anderson and Natalie Wood and among his best known screenplays were The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, Sons and Lovers and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. Born on July 23, 1924, he attended Cheltenham College where he met Lindsay Anderson. In 2002 he published a critical memoir of Anderson which recorded a friendship that was mutually supportive and admiring.

* Geraldine Fitzgerald, who appeared in such classic thirties films as Dark Victory and Wuthering Heights and later had a distinguished career on the New York stage, died on July 17, aged 91. The Irish born actress received an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Isabella Linton in Wuthering Heights and in later years she appeared as a character actress in movies such as Harry and Tonto, Arthur, and Easy Money.

* The actor James Doohan achieved cult status as the chief engineer Scotty in Star Trek, the sixties TV series. Although the famous order “Beam me up, Scotty” was never actually given on the show, Montgomery Scott became one of the most familiar – and most parodied – characters in TV history. Born on March 3, 1920, Doohan appeared in 79 episodes of the series and later in seven full length films. He died on July 20, aged 85.

* In 1987, when he was 68, gardener Harry Dodson became a TV personality when he was one of the presenters of the BBC series The Victorian Kitchen Garden. His skill and easy manner of speaking proved cult viewing and the first series was followed by several more over the ensuing decade. He died on July 25, aged 85.

* Australian actor Neil Fitzpatrick was a core member of the Australian Elizabethan Trust Players. He also appeared in the UK with the National Theatre Company in productions of Othello, Royal Hunt of the Sun and Much Ado About Nothing. He was also a notable TV actor in Australia. He died in Sydney on July 28, aged 71.

* Vicki Laine, singer, writer and actress, died on July 30, in Hollywood, aged 62. She played several of the major hotels in Florida and she collaborated with Robin Netscher in writing and producing shows in which she starred.

* Drummer Carlo Little died on August 6, aged 66. A key figure in the early sixties music scene, he gave The Who’s Keith Moon his first drumming lessons and also played with Screaming Lord Sutch and Cyril Davies and the All Stars. He briefly played drums with the fledgling Rolling Stones but, despite being asked to join the band full-time, decided to stay with Davies.

* Barbara Bel Geddes, best known for her role as Dallas’ Miss Ellie, died on August 8, aged 82. Although she played the matriarch of the Ewing clan in the TV series for more than ten years, she was also an accomplished film and stage performer. She was nominated for an Oscar for the 1948 film I Remember Mama and played James Stewart’s plucky girlfriend in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 movie Vertigo. She was also the first actress to play Maggie, the caustic, sexually starved wife in Tennessee Williams’ 1955 Broadway play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.