Veteran Actor Alan Bates Dies of Cancer, Aged 69Date: 29 December 2003
Sir Alan Bates, the celebrated stage and screen actor who was knighted in the New Year’s Honours of 2002, has died, aged 69.
The star of such films as Women in Love (where he famously wrestled naked with Oliver Reed), Far From the Madding Crowd, An Unmarried Woman and Gosford Park, passed away in a London clinic on 27 December after a battle with cancer of the liver.
Born on 17 February, 1934 in Derbyshire, he trained as an actor at RADA, and after serving in the RAF, began his acting career in regional rep before taking the Royal Court by storm, and subsequently recreating his performance on Broadway, in the original production of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger in 1956.
He began his film career with another Osborne role in the 1960 film version of The Entertainer. Later he would also become particularly associated with the plays of Simon Gray, for whom (amongst others) he created the title role in Butley (again in the West End, on Broadway and subsequently on film), as well as Otherwise Engaged, Melon and Life Support.
For his most recent stage appearance on Broadway in Turgenev’s Fortune’s Fool in 2002, opposite Frank Langella, he won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.
In Britain, he toured in 2001 in a stage adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, opposite his actor son Benedick Bates.
- Mark Shenton