Alan Bates born 17 February 1934 (d. 2003)
Alan Bates was an English actor.
Born in Allestree, Derby, Bates was the eldest of three brothers: his two brothers are artists, his father was a fine cellist, and his mother a pianist who had studied in Paris. His father supported the family by working in the insurance business. His parents early encouraged him to pursue music, but by age 11, he had already determined his life's course as an actor, and so they sent him for dramatic coaching instead. He earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where he studied before leaving to join the Royal Air Force.
In 1956, he debuted on stage in the West End, starring in Look Back in Anger, a role which made him a star. Four years later, he appeared in The Entertainer, his first film role. He soon starred in Whistle Down the Wind, Phillipe de Brocca's King of Hearts, and in the Bernard Malamud film The Fixer, which gave him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
He was handpicked by director John Schlesinger to star in the film Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) in the role of Dr Daniel Hirsh. Even though he wanted the part very much, Bates was held up filming The Go-Between (1970) for director Joseph Losey and also became a father around that time, so he had to pass on the project, with regrets. The part then went first to Ian Bannen who balked at kissing and simulating sex with other man and was fired and then to Peter Finch, who earned an Academy Award nomination.
Bates starred in such international hit films as Georgy Girl, Far From the Madding Crowd, Zorba the Greek, The Go-Between, An Unmarried Woman and Women in Love (in which, along with Oliver Reed he became the first actor to do frontal nudity in a major studio motion picture - and for which a generation of gay men will be eternally grateful) but he consciously decided to concentrate on a few well-defined roles, rather than to take everything that came his way.
On television, his parts ranged from classic roles such as The Mayor of Casterbridge (1978) to Guy Burgess in An Englishman Abroad (1983) to a Russian spy in Pack of Lies (1987) to the storyteller in the 2000 version of the Arabian Nights.
Bates played Antonius Agrippa in the 2004 TV film Spartacus, but died before it debuted. It was dedicated to his memory and that of writer Howard Fast, who wrote the original novel that inspired the film Spartacus by Stanley Kubrick.
On stage, Bates had a particular association with the plays of Simon Gray, appearing in Butley, Otherwise Engaged, Stage Struck, Melon, Life Support and Simply Disconnected, as well as the film of Butley and Gray's TV series Unnatural Pursuits.
He was married to the actress Victoria Ward from 1970 until her death of a suspected heart attack (following a wasting disease) in 1992. They had twin sons born in 1971, the actors Benedick Bates and Tristan Bates, who died of an asthma attack in 1990 at the age of 19 in Tokyo where he had a modelling job.
His companion and lover towards the end of his life was his lifelong friend, actress Joanna Pettet, his co-star in 1964's Broadway play Poor Richard. They split their time both in New York and London.
According to a 2007 biography, Otherwise Engaged: The Life of Alan Bates, he had numerous, often tortured, homosexual relationships during his life, with partners including Peter Wyngarde and John Curry. The actor Nickolas Grace has spoken of their intense relationship.
Bates was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1996, and was knighted in 2003.
He was an Associate Member of RADA and was a patron of The Actors Centre, Covent Garden, London from 1994 until his death in 2003.
Alan Bates died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 69.
Popular Themes and Searches
Academics Activists Actors Architects Aristocrats Artists Ballet Beat Generation Bisexuals Broadcasters Broadway Businessmen Choreographers Classical Music Comedians Composers Critics Dancers Death by suicide Death from HIV/Aids DJs Drag Fashion Designers Female Impersonators Film Film Directors Hollywood Illustrators Journalists Leftfield/Avant-Garde Military Men Musical Theatre Musicians Novelists Olympic Medalists Oscar Wilde Painters Photographers Playwrights Poets Politicians Popular Music Porn Stars Radio Screenwriters Singers Songwriters Sportsmen Television Theatre Theatre Directors Tony Award winners Victorians World War 2 World War I Writers