"Man For All Seasons" Scofield dies at 86

Thu Mar 20, 2008 6:20am EDT
 
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By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - Paul Scofield, hailed as one of the great British actors of his generation and awarded an Oscar for his haunting performance in "A Man For All Seasons," has died aged 86 of leukemia, his agent said on Thursday.

Scofield, a fiercely private actor who spurned the limelight, had the power, voice and presence to outdo any other classical actor with unforgettable performances in roles ranging from Shakespeare's King Lear to a homosexual barber in the comedy "Staircase."

But the glitter of Hollywood did not appeal and he was quite happy never to match the glamour of his contemporaries Richard Burton and Laurence Olivier.

"Of the 10 greatest moments in the theatre, eight are Scofield's," Burton once said of him.

Agent Rosalind Chatto said Scofield died peacefully at a hospital near his home in Sussex on Wednesday. "He had leukemia and had not been well for some time," she told Reuters.

Hollywood's Academy Award as best actor of 1966 went to Scofield for his masterly portrayal of Sir Thomas More, who chose to be executed by King Henry VIII rather than betray his conscience, in the film "A Man For All Seasons."

The film was adapted by author Robert Bolt from his play in which Scofield was acclaimed on stages in London and New York.

Despite a volley of offers from Hollywood, Scofield chose a much lower profile, making few more films but still erupting on to the stage in such roles as Othello and Macbeth.   Continued...

 
<p>Director Fred Zinnemann (C) and actor Paul Scofield (R) are seen during production of the film "A Man For All Seasons (1966)" in this undated handout photo from 1966. Scofield, hailed as one of the great British actors of his generation and awarded an Oscar for his haunting performance in "A Man For All Seasons", has died aged 86 of leukaemia, his agent said on March 20, 2008. REUTERS/Margaret Herrick Library, Core Production Files/Handout</p>