Alec McCowen born 26 May 1925
Alec McCowen is an English actor, best known for classical roles including Shakespeare.
He was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, the son of Mary and Duncan McCowen. He was educated at the Skinners' School in Tunbridge Wells and a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
McCowen made his film debut in 1953 in a British film, The Cruel Sea, but achieved his greatest successes on stage. He made his London debut at the Arts Theatre in Ivanov in 1950, and had rising success as Toulouse-Lautrec in Moulin Rouge (1954), Barnaby Tucker in The Matchmaker (1954), and appearances at the Old Vic Theatre in 1959/60 in many Shakespearean plays, notably as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. His breakthrough came as Friar William Rolfe in Hadrian the Seventh, for which he won an Evening Standard Award for the London production and a Tony nomination after taking it to Broadway. His next big successes were in Molière's The Misanthrope opposite Diana Rigg (1973) and the role of psychiastrist Martin Dysart in the world premire of Peter Shaffer's Equus (1973), but his greatest achievement was his one-man performance of the complete text of Saint Mark's Gospel (1978), for which he received worldwide acclaim and another Tony nomination.
McCowen has appeared in the films Never Say Never Again (as Q), Cry Freedom, Frenzy , The Age of Innocence, and Travels With My Aunt, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. He notably appeared in the film based on the life of Cynthia Payne Personal Services (1987) with Julie Walters. He starred in the lead role of the 1980s TV series Mr Palfrey of Westminster.
His partner, the actor Geoffrey Burridge died in 1987 from an AIDS-related illness.
In 1989 he was selected to appear on the celebrity surprise show This Is Your Life but was aghast at the programme's complete failure to mention Geoffrey Burridge, who had died less than two years previously and McCowen - bravely for the time - insisted that his late partner be acknowledged.
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