Thursday, March 20, 2008

Actor Paul Scofield dies at 86

Paul Scofield may have turned down a knighthood, but his place among British acting royalty is nonetheless assured. The legendary stage actor, who won an Academy Award for A Man for All Seasons, made only a handful of films, but he made them count. Scofield died Wednesday at age 86 in a hospital in southern England. He had been suffering from leukemia. On stage, Scofield brought his physical gifts — a craggy face and a powerful, rumbling voice — to roles from Shakespeare and Shaw to Steinbeck and Chekhov. Richard Burton, once regarded as the theatrical heir to Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud, said it was Scofield who deserved that place. "Of the 10 greatest moments in the theater, eight are Scofield's." Even A Man for All Seasons, perhaps his greatest film role, was an adaptation of a play that won him a Tony Award in 1961. He reprised his role as Sir Thomas More, who was executed after clashing with King Henry VIII, in the 1966 film. In 1979, he received acclaim for another great historical stage role, as composer Antonio Salieri in Amadeus. For all the fame, Scofield remained a family man who lived most of his life a few miles from his birthplace. Scofield received his second Oscar nomination for Robert Redford's Quiz Show (1994). His other films included Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance (1973), Kenneth Branagh's Henry V (1989) and The Crucible (1996).

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