Ian McKellen made his professional stage debut on this day 60 years ago
He's only done a few bits since...
Coventry is historically notable for a number of reasons – it was the epicentre of Britain's car manufacturing boom, it's apparently the birthplace of St George (dubious that one), and it's where George Eliot lived and went to school (this is confirmed). The internet also tells us that Will Shakespeare apparently spurned a Coventry-born woman to marry Anne Hathaway.
It's also where Ian McKellen, 60 years ago to the day, made his professional stage debut at the Belgrade Theatre!
Part of a resident company at the much-loved venue, McKellen was appearing in a revival production Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons (based on the life of Saint Sir Thomas More), taking on the role of Will Roper. McKellen would even go on to play the lead role in a future production of the show.
McKellen marked the occasion today with a vintage headshot, which we've embedded below.
On September 4th 1961, I made my first entrance as a professional actor – on the stage of the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry UK. I was part of its resident company of actors. 60 years on, here I am in Windsor, one of the company at the Theatre Royal. So nothing much has changed. pic.twitter.com/GMcGdic4xX— Ian McKellen (@IanMcKellen) September 4, 2021
The Olivier, Tony, Golden Globe and SAG Award winner has obviously gone on to do a few more roles since then (we are prone to understatement) but interestingly, McKellen is now appearing as part of a resident company – though this time in Windsor rather than Coventry. There's a sense of decade-long poetry in that!