Playwright Peter Barnes has passed away. Born in London on 10 January 1931, he died last Thursday (1 July 2004) at the age of 73.

Barnes was best known for his black comedies, which included Leonardo’s Last Supper, The Bewitched, Laughter! and Red Noses. He also penned new adaptations of Wedekind’s Lulu and The Singer, the latter entitled Frontiers of Farce as well as Feydeau’s On Purge Bebe.

Unquestionably, Barnes’ biggest hit was The Ruling Class, which satirised the British aristocracy and the Church. The play premiered at Nottingham Playhouse in 1968 before transferring to the West End’s Piccadilly Theatre the following year. In 1972, it was made into a film starring Peter O'Toole (pictured).

Barnes’ also wrote the stage plays The Time of the Barracudas and Sclerosis, and directed productions of Antonio, Bartholomew’s Fair and Translations. In more recent years, he turned to writing for radio, television and film. His screenplay for the 1992 movie Enchanted April was Oscar-nominated.

Also passed away on 1 July 2004 was American actor Marlon Brando. Though he never performed on the London stage and was best known internationally for his many films, Brando launched his career in the theatre. In the 1940s, his Broadway credits included I Remember Mama, Candida, Truckline Café, A Flag is Born and, most notably, the 1947 premiere of Tennessee WilliamsA Streetcar Named Desire. He reprised the role of Streetcar’s brutish Stanley Kowalski in Elia Kazan’s seminal 1951 screen version of the play.

Brando’s many other film classics included On the Waterfront, The Wild One, Viva Zapata!, Julius Caesar, Guys and Dolls, The Young Lions, Mutiny on the Bounty, Apocalypse Now and The Godfather.

Brando was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on 3 April 1924. He died at the age of 80.

- by Terri Paddock