The Canadian-born actor, Paul Massie, was building a promising career in London, when he decided to opt instead for a life in American academia.
In 1958, he appeared at the Comedy Theatre in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Peter Hall. The Stage was somewhat dismissive of his performance, but in the same year he won a Bafta award as most promising newcomer for Orders to Kill, a movie directed by Anthony Asquith. Massie played a wartime pilot – the former silent film actress, Lillian Gish, was cast as his mother.
The following year, he starred in a Hammer horror film, The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll, and in 1961 he took the role of a budding artist in Tony Hancock’s send-up of the world of modern art, The Rebel.
Come 1966, he accepted an invitation to appear in a production of Moliere’s Tartuffe at the fledgling University of South Florida. That was followed by an appearance in Sheridan’s School for Scandal. At the outset, he was no more than a guest artist, but he stayed at the university for 30 years, becoming a professor in its theatre department.
Nancy Cole, who worked with him for 20 years, said it was a profound gift for students to able to share the stage with an actor of his talent and experience: “He was a hero,” she said.
Paul Massie, who was born in Ontario on July 7, 1932, died in Nova Scotia on June 8, aged 78.
Richard Anthony Baker
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