Screen star who played the Fool and ‘Q’ dies

20170202-DSC04177Shot by Rose Bainbridge_LOW

RENOWNED actor Alec McCowen, who grew up in Tunbridge Wells, has died at the age of 91.

Mr McCowen, who was awarded the OBE in 1972 and received a CBE in 1986, had starring roles in Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy, as Chief Inspector Oxford, and George Cukor’s Travels with My Aunt, as Henry Pulling – both in 1972.

He was born in the town in 1925 and attended The Skinners’ School. He gave a vivid account of his childhood in his autobiography Young Gemini.

Mr McCowen’s father Duncan owned a pram shop in Tunbridge Wells and his mother Mary was a soubrette and dancer, while his grandfather was an evangelist preacher.

After attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he made his West End debut in 1950, and went on to play the Fool in Peter Brook’s King Lear in 1962.

He came to fame in Hadrian the Seventh, which won him the first of many Evening Standard awards.

Mr McCowen also brought to stage and screen two notable one-man shows: St Mark’s Gospel, on Thames TV and Rudyard Kipling – A Celebration, which was shown on Channel 4.

He appeared in more than 30 films, starting with The Cruel Sea in 1953 – in which he played a character called ‘Tunbridge’ – and including The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and The Witches.

He played Q opposite Sean Connery in the James Bond film Never Say Never Again in 1983, and worked with Martin Scorcese on The Age of Innocence a decade later. His final film role was in Gangs of New York in 2002.

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