Variety was a defining characteristic of a career that took Robin Sachs from winning a prize for diction at RADA to fame on cult American television shows Babylon 5 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
His mother, the actress Eleanor Summerfield, and his father, Leonard Sachs – the gavel-wielding chairman of the BBC’s long-running celebration of music hall The Good Old Days – would no doubt have approved.
Before moving to Los Angeles, where his lightly worn, chiselled features and suave patrician demeanour won him the role of Adam Carrington in the 1991 TV movie Dynasty – The Reunion, Sachs enjoyed a steady profile on stage and television at home.
His Hamlet came early, in 1972 on a tour of Holland that elicited a letter to The Stage from a disgruntled company complaining about the lack of support from Equity when actors were forced to share accommodation.
Much of what followed proved happier, not least sharing the stage with Judi Dench and Daniel Massey in his West End debut at the then-Albery Theatre in 1975 in a revival of Pinero’s The Gay Lord Quex, directed by John Gielgud.
Sachs’ other notable theatre appearances included Cabaret at the Northcott Theatre (1978), Sartre’s The Assassin at the Leicester Haymarket (1979), Death of a Salesman (Harrogate, 1981), Deathtrap (Thorndike Theatre, Leatherhead, 1983), Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Thorndike, 1987) and Kevin Hood’s The Astronomer’s Garden, which began at Croydon’s Warehouse Theatre and transferred to the Royal Court, London (1989).
His British television roles included Henry VIII and his Six Wives (1972), Upstairs, Downstairs (1973), Quiller (1975), the six-part Rob Roy (1977), Brideshead Revisited (1981), the six-part thriller Chessgame (1983) and Rumpole of the Bailey (1987).
Sachs made his film debut in the 1972 Hammer horror Vampire Circus, and enjoyed later success in Hollywood hits such as the 1997 Steven Spielberg blockbuster The Lost World – Jurassic Park, sci-fi spoof Galaxy Quest (1999) and the 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven, starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
Despite early guest appearances on American television alongside Angela Lansbury in Murder, She Wrote (1993) and Dick van Dyke in Diagnosis – Murder (1994), Sachs became associated with fantasy and science fiction. He was cast as three separate characters in Babylon 5 (1994-98) and secured a cult following as the sorcerer and evil arch-nemesis Ethan Rayne in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2000). He also appeared in Star Trek – Voyager (2001) and more recently in the BBC’s Torchwood (2011).
He was also much in demand as a voice artist, lending his talents to television animations Fantastic Four (1994) and SpongeBob SquarePants (2006), as well as video games including Star Wars – Knights of the Old Republic (2003) and Resident Evil – Damnation (2012), which was to be his last role.
Robin Sachs was born in London on February 5, 1951, and died in Los Angeles four days before what would have been his 62nd birthday on February 1. He is survived by his ex-wives Sian Phillips and Casey Defranco.
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