Sir Ralph Richardson

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Three years later, he won a British Academy Award for his role in David Lean's ‘Breaking the Sound Barrier’, about the early days of jet flight. In 1962, Richardson won Cannes Best Actor Award for his depiction of James Tyrone, the head of a dysfunctional family in playwright Eugene O'Neill's ‘Long Day's Journey Into Night’. Other notables were Richard III (1955), Our Man in Havana (1960), Long Day's Journey into Night (1962), and Doctor Zhivago (1965).

I think he is also the only actor to be nominated for three British Academy Awards in the same same, in the same category ‘Best Actor’ and lose all three! These were for Doctor Zhivago (1965), for: Khartoum (1966) and The Wrong Box (1966). His final film appearance was as the sixth Earl of Greystoke in the 1983 movie Greystoke - The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, for which he was again nominated for an Academy Award.

He was enigmatic to say the least and one of my favourite stories about this character was that one night he was found by police walking very slowly along the gutter of an Oxford street, he explained he was taking his pet mouse for a stroll. Richardson projected a personality unique in the British theatre, one that was charming and refined, but also mischievous and capable of hinting at sinister or tragic depths in the characters he played. To be fair he never made the screen breakthrough that Lord Olivier managed – although one wonders if he really cared. The stage was very much his arena and as such he will be remembered as one of the finest stage actors of the 20th century.

Well into his seventies, he continued to enthrall audiences with his extraordinary acting skills. He was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Special Award in 1982 for his lifetime achievement in the theatre. Even then the very sick Sir Ralph remained the gentleman he had always been, even apologising to the nursing staff caring for him in case he was being a nuisance. He died of a stroke on the 10th October 1983.


Acting is merely the art of keeping a large group of people from coughing.

In music, the punctuation is absolutely strict, the bars and rests are absolutely defined. But our punctuation cannot be quite strict, because we have to relate it to the audience. In other words we are continually changing the score.

The most precious things in speech are pauses.


'An actors Life'

Suggested films to see:

The Heiress (1949)
The Sound Barrier (1952)
Greystoke (1985)




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