Equalizer Actor Edward Woodward Dies, Aged 79Date: 16 November 2009
British stage and screen actor Edward Woodward has passed away today (16 November 2009) at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, near his home in Padstow, Cornwall. He was 79 and had been suffering from pneumonia and other ailments since being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003.
Woodward was best known internationally for his hit American TV series The Equalizer, which ran from 1985 to 1989. His many other film and television roles include cult British horror flick The Wicker Man as well as Callan, Breaker Morant, La Femme Nikita, The Professionals, Common as Muck and, in more recent years, Hot Fuzz and EastEnders.
Born on 1 June 1930 in Croydon, Surrey, the young Woodward was initially torn between wanting to become a professional footballer or an actor. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) after the Second World War and appeared with various regional repertory companies before making his London stage debut in 1955 in Where There’s a Will, which led to him making his film debut in an adaptation of the RF Delderfield play.
Theatrically, he followed this with seasons at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National as well as appearances both in the West End and on Broadway – including Cyrano de Bergerac in London and Rattle of a Simple Man, The Best Laid Plays and the Tony Award-winning musical High Spirits in New York - before moving primarily into screen work.
After a 15-year absence, Woodward returned to the stage in 2002 to take the title role in Goodbye Gilbert Harding on a UK regional tour, which he followed up a year later, starring opposite his second wife, actress Michelle Dotrice, in a touring production of Ivan Menchell's comedy The Cemetery Club (See News, 18 Aug 2003). Prior to that, his last major theatrical role was in 1987, starring in A Dead Secret opposite Dotrice, who is also a familiar television face from Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.
Woodward’s agent Janet Glass said today: “He was a superb human being... That integrity shone through in the roles he played. I can’t ever remember, in all the productions he undertook, anyone having a bad word to say about him and he never had anything bad to say about anyone else either... Universally loved and admired through his unforgettable roles in classic productions, he was equally fine and courageous in real life, never losing his brave spirit and wonderful humour throughout his illness.”