Theatre News

Stage and screen star Ian Holm has died aged 88

The actor is known for his roles in ”The Homecoming”, ”King Lear” and, of course, ”The Lord of the Rings”

Ian Holm
Ian Holm
© CossieMoJo at English Wikipedia / CC BY-SA (

Stage and screen star Ian Holm has died aged 88, it has been announced.

Holm, born 12 September 1931, trained from 1949 at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. After graduation he became a pivotal performer in the early days of the Royal Shakespeare Company. In the mid 1960s he gained fame for playing Richard III in the BBC serialisation of The War of the Roses, while also having minor roles in films like Oh! What a Lovely War.

In 1967 he won a Tony Award for starring in Pinter's The Homecoming, and played Frodo Baggins in the 1981 radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. A major screen role came in 1979 as the notorious Ash in Alien, and he went on to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Chariots of Fire.

Though quitting the theatre for a time after a severe case of stage fright, the actor continued his love for Shakespeare, appearing in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V and Mel Gibson's Hamlet. According to a 2001 report in the New York Times, Holm was one of Pinter's favourite actors, with the playwright saying that "He puts on my shoe, and it fits!". Holm later returned to the stage to perform as King Lear at the National in 1997.

One of his most iconic roles was as Bilbo Baggins in the award-winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy, earning a SAG Award for the ensemble cast. He was knighted in 1998. Holm won a number of Evening Standard Awards and a Critics' Circle Theatre Award in 1993.

According to The Guardian, Holm's death was Parkinson's related, with the actor dying peacefully in hospital.