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Frank Finlay Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (18)

Overview (4)

Born in Farnworth, Lancashire, England, UK
Died in Weybridge, Surrey, England, UK  (heart failure following a short illness)
Birth NameFrancis Finlay
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

One of Britain's finest products of the stage, film and TV, actor Frank Finlay, he with the dark and handsomely serious-to-mordant looks, was born on August 6, 1926, in Farnworth, England, the son of Josiah, a butcher, and Margaret Finlay. Of English, Irish and Scottish descent, Frank attended St. Gregory the Great School and then was actually training to follow in his father's footsteps as a butcher himself when his side interest in acting eventually won out. He became a member of the Farnworth Little Theatre and met his future wife, Doreen Shepherd, a fellow member at the same time. They married in 1954, had three children (two sons, one daughter) and were married for over 50 years until her death in 2005.

Finlay began his professional career on the repertory stage with roles in The Guilford Theatre Company's 1957 productions of "Jessica" and "The Telescope". Graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), he built up a strong and sturdy theatrical reputation at the Royal Court Theatre between 1958 and 1960 where he was seen to good advantage in such plays as "Chicken Soup and Barley", "Sugar in the Morning", "Sergeant Musgrave's Dance", "Roots", "I'm Talking About Jerusalem", "The Happy Haven" and "Platonov". Making his Broadway debut in "The Epitaph of George Dillon" in 1959, he also sparked a noteworthy professional association with Laurence Olivier at the National Theatre, the highlight being his intense but subtle portrayal of "Iago" to Olivier's "Othello" in 1964.

Marking his film debut in a bit role in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962), Finlay sandwiched in a steady stream of British film parts (including Private Potter (1962), Doctor in Distress (1963), Agent 8 3/4 (1964), The Comedy Man (1964), A Study in Terror (1965) (as "Jack the Ripper" Inspector Lestrade), The Jokers (1967), The Deadly Bees (1966) and Robbery (1967)) in between theatre assignments. His greatest film opportunity occurred when he was given the right by Olivier to recreate his Iago role opposite the legendary actor in the masterful film adaptation of Othello (1965). Finlay, Maggie Smith (as "Desdemona") and Joyce Redman (as "Emilia") all received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for their illustrious "supporting" work of Olivier (who was also Oscar nominated). Frank went on to nab a "Most Promising Newcomer" nomination from the BAFTA committee as well. To date, this has been the actor's only Oscar recognition.

Frank's film output, aside from his dashing role as "Porthos" for director Richard Lester in the ripe Dumas adaptation of The Three Musketeers (1973) (and its sequels The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge (1974) and The Return of the Musketeers (1989)), has been at an international level. Films include The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968), Cromwell (1970), The Molly Maguires (1970), Shaft in Africa (1973), The Wild Geese (1978), Murder by Decree (1979) (again as "Inspector Lestrade"), The Return of the Soldier (1982), The Key (1983) [The Key], Lifeforce (1985), Mountain of Diamonds (1991), So This Is Romance? (1997), Silent Cry (2002) and, most notably, the Oscar-winning WWII picture The Pianist (2002), directed by Roman Polanski, in which he portrayed the patriarch of a displaced Jewish family that included "Best Actor" son Adrien Brody.

Classical television notice came in middle age with Frank's strong performances as "Jean Valjean" in the British TV mini-series "Les Miserables" (1967) and the title role in Casanova (1971). He also went on to win stellar praise and a BAFTA award for his chilling portrayal of "Adolf Hitler" in ITV Sunday Night Theatre: The Death of Adolf Hitler (1973). Finlay and Susan Penhaligon courted controversy in the drama series Bouquet of Barbed Wire (1976) and were reunited in further controversy the following year with its follow-up Another Bouquet (1977). More plentiful and prestigious BBC-TV work came with his roles as Shakespeare's "Brutus" and "Shylock", not to mention his award-winning performances as "Voltaire" and "Sancho Panza".

In Count Dracula (1977), Finlay played "Van Helsing" to nemesis Louis Jourdan's velvety-voiced vampire; in A Christmas Carol (1984), he was the dour, shackled "Jacob Marley", who pays a ghostly visit to George C. Scott's crusty "Ebenezer Scrooge"; and in Eroica (2003), he portrayed composer "Franz Josef Haydn" alongside Ian Hart's "Beethoven". Most recently, Frank has been appearing in the mini-series Four Seasons (2008).

Throughout his prolific career on TV and film, Frank has maintained on the stage given sterling performances in "Much Ado About Nothing (as "Dogberry"), "The Crucible", "Saturday Sunday Monday", "Filumena", "Amadeus" (a most affecting Salieri), "Mutiny" (as "Captain Bligh"), "Beyond Reasonable Doubt" and as the rigid father in the 1992 period production of "The Heiress".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

Doreen Joan Shepherd (1954 - 1 June 2005) ( her death) ( 3 children)

Trivia (18)

He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1984 New Year's Honours List for his services to drama and was presented with his award by Queen Elizabeth II in February 1984 investiture ceremony.
Did not serve in World War II.
The 9th edition of Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion erroneously credits him as having died in 1986.
He played Inspector Lestrade in two unrelated films which featured Sherlock Holmes attempting to solve the Jack the Ripper murders: A Study in Terror (1965) and Murder by Decree (1979). Both films featured Anthony Quayle in a supporting role.
He graduated from RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) in London, England.
An Associate Member of RADA.
A devout Catholic, he belongs to the British Catholic Stage Guild.
Member of Garrick club for many years.
He has two roles in common with Gérard Depardieu: (1) Finlay played Jean Valjean in Les Misérables (1967) while Depardieu played him in Les misérables (2000) and (2) Finlay played Porthos in The Three Musketeers (1973), The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge (1974) and The Return of the Musketeers (1989) while Depardieu played him in The Man in the Iron Mask (1998).
Before being cast as Hans Fallanda in Lifeforce (1985), Finlay was considered for the roles of Dr. Armstrong, Dr. Bukovsky and Sir Percy Heseltine.
He was a front runner for the role of Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) before Charles Gray was cast.
He played Inspector Lestrade in A Study in Terror (1965) and Murder by Decree (1979) and his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in The Other Side (1992).
He has two roles in common with Peter Cushing, Nigel Davenport and David Warner: (1) Cushing played Professor Van Helsing in Horror of Dracula (1958), The Brides of Dracula (1960), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974), Davenport played him in Dracula (1974), Finlay played him in Count Dracula (1977) and Warner played him in Penny Dreadful (2014) and (2) Davenport played Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in The Edwardians: Conan Doyle (1972), Cushing played him in The Great Houdini (1976), Finlay played him in The Other Side (1992) and Warner played him in Houdini (1998).
Inteviewed for Khan in Octopussy.
Considered for De Flores in Doctor Who: Silver Nemsis.
Omitted from 2016 In Memoriam section of clips and stills in the 2016 Oscars was a Oscar Nom for Othello..
He is buried next to his wife, Doreen at Weybridge Cemetery.

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