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Oliver! star Wild dies

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Jack Wild, the actor best known for playing the role of the Artful Dodger in the 1968 film version of Oliver!, has died aged 53.

According to his agent, Wild “died peacefully” after a long battle with oral cancer.

Known to have once been both a heavy smoker and drinker, the performer was diagnosed with cancer in 2001, having a portion of his tongue removed in an operation in 2004. He lost part of his speech but later appeared on stage in pantomime.

Born in Royton, near Oldham, in the fifties, he was plucked from obscurity to star in Carol Reed’s screen version of the musical Oliver! for which he received an Oscar nomination. He later appeared in the TV series HR Pufnstuf in 1969 and more recently in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, alongside Kevin Costner.

A full obituary will appear in a future issue of The Stage.