Goodbye To An Acting Legend
We have just learnt that veteran British actor Albert Finney has just died at the age of 82. Here’s part of the tribute from The Guardian…
Albert Finney, who forged his reputation as one of the leading actors of Britain’s early 60s new wave cinema, has died aged 82 after a short illness, his family have announced. In 2011, he disclosed he had been suffering from kidney cancer. Having shot to fame as the star of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Finney received five Oscar nominations, but never won, and refused a knighthood.
Born in Salford in 1936, Finney grew up the son of a bookmaker as part of what he called the “lower middle class”. Encouraged by his headmaster at Salford Grammar school, Finney got a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, where he found himself in the same class as Peter O’Toole and Alan Bates. Having established himself as a theatre actor, Finney capitalised on the late-50s surge of interest in “northern” material, and found himself cast, first, in a small role in the film adaptation of John Osborne’s The Entertainer (set in Morecambe) and then as the lead in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, as rambunctious factory worker Arthur Seaton.
Finney then became the face of British cinema’s international explosion after being cast in the title role of Tom Jones, directed by The Entertainer’s Tony Richardson. Tom Jones, with its bawdy humour and rollicking atmosphere, was a sizeable hit in the US, and won four Oscars (including best picture); Finney received the first of his four best actor nominations, but lost to Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field.
In the ensuing decade, Finney’s status as an established star saw him appear in a wide variety of material, including a mainstream musical (Scrooge), a low-budget crime comedy (Gumshoe, Stephen Frears’ directorial debut) and the star-packed Agatha Christie adaptation, Murder on the Orient Express, in which he successfully impersonated Hercule Poirot.
After the Coen brothers cast him in Miller’s Crossing, playing Irish-American mobster Leo O’Bannon, Finney began to acquire a certain cachet among the new generation of American film-makers who revered his work in the 1960s: Soderbergh cast him in Traffic and Erin Brockovich and Tim Burton in Corpse Bride and Big Fish. His final substantial role would prove to be as the gamekeeper Kincade in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall.
Finney twice turned down official honours – a CBE in 1980, and a knighthood in 2000 – and revealed in 2011 he had overcome cancer after successful treatment. He was married three times, to actors Jane Wenham and Anouk Aimeé from 1957-61 and 1970-78 respectively, and travel agent Pene Delmage in 2006. He is survived by Delmage and his son Simon, from his first marriage.
Read the whole piece here