Thursday, August 03, 2017

Robert Hardy, 1925-2017

The great British character actor Robert Hardy has died at the age of 91.

Hardy passed away today, August 3rd.

For me Hardy will forever be remembered as Siegfried Farnon, the offbeat veterinarian of TV's ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL (1978-90). His interactions with Peter Davison, as his irrepressible younger brother Tristan, and Christopher Timothy, who played his young partner James Herriot, were at times side-splittingly funny.

With Timothy and Davison:

A typical Siegfried expression:

I first watched the show on public television when I was a teenager, and years later introduced my children to it via DVDs. The series is "television comfort food" at its very finest.

With Carol Drinkwater (Helen) and Christopher Timothy:

Hardy was also part of the perfection that is SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (1995), in which he played the eccentric but kindly Sir John Middleton, who provides a home for his newly impoverished relatives (including Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet).

I also loved him as Prince Albert in TV's EDWARD THE KING (1975). He was Sir Toby Belch in TWELFTH NIGHT (1980) and Robert Dudley in ELIZABETH R (1971), to name just a couple more of the many shows I watched him in thanks to PBS.

Hardy played Winston Churchill a dozen or so times, including in the gargantuan U.S. miniseries WAR AND REMEMBRANCE (1988-89).

While Hardy's best-known work was in television and more recent films such as the HARRY POTTER series, his film career stretched back to titles such as TORPEDO RUN (1958) with Glenn Ford (seen below) and THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD (1965) which starred his good friend Richard Burton.

Hardy was also a respected historian, cited by some obituaries as the world's leading authority on the English longbow. He was the author of LONGBOW: A SOCIAL AND MILITARY HISTORY.

An expert on the Tudor era, he was an advisor on the salvaging of the Tudor ship the Mary Rose in 1982 and coauthored another book, THE GREAT WARBOW: FROM HASTINGS TO THE MARY ROSE. He also served as ambassador for the Mary Rose Museum, which Tweeted a reaction to his passing. August 4th Update: The Museum has posted a tribute to Hardy, including photos.

Hardy's second wife was the daughter of Gladys Cooper, herself memorable in so many classic films. He's survived by three children.

Robert Hardy led a fascinating life which gave us many memorable performances. Sincere condolences to his family and colleagues.

October 2017 Update: A memorial service has been held for Hardy in London.


Blogger Jerry Entract said...

A terrific and heartfelt tribute to a great English actor. Thank you, Laura.

I also have seen him in many fine roles over many years but he will always be Siegfried Farnon for me. Absolutely priceless!

4:19 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much, Jerry! He's someone I have always enjoyed tremendously -- and what a fascinating, multi-faceted life he led!

Like you, first and foremost for me he'll always be Siegfried!

Best wishes,

10:35 PM  

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