The Info List - Alec McCowen

Alexander Duncan McCowen, CBE (26 May 1925[1] – 6 February 2017) was an English actor. He was known for his work in numerous film and stage productions.


1 Early life 2 Personal life 3 Career

3.1 Early theatre work 3.2 Later theatre work 3.3 Directing 3.4 Film and television 3.5 Literature

4 Filmography 5 List of theatre roles 6 Honours 7 Bibliography 8 See also 9 References 10 External links

Early life[edit] McCowen was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, the son of Mary (née Walkden), a dancer, and Duncan McCowen, a shopkeeper.[2] He attended The Skinners' School
Skinners' School
in Tunbridge Wells and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art Personal life[edit] His partner, the actor Geoffrey Burridge, died in 1987 from AIDS complications.[3][4][5] McCowen died on 6 February 2017 at the age of 91.[6] Career[edit] Early theatre work[edit] McCowen first appeared on stage at the Repertory Theatre, Macclesfield, in August 1942 as Micky in Paddy the Next Best Thing. He appeared in repertory in York
and Birmingham
1943–45, and toured India
and Burma
in a production of Kenneth Horne's West End comedy Love in a Mist during 1945 with the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA). He continued in repertory 1946–49, during which time he played a season at St John's, Newfoundland, Canada. He made his London
debut on 20 April 1950 at the Arts Theatre
Arts Theatre
as Maxim in Anton Chekhov's Ivanov, and made his first appearances on the New York
City stage at the Ziegfeld Theatre on 19 December 1951 as an Egyptian Guard in Caesar and Cleopatra, and on 20 December 1951 as the Messenger in Antony and Cleopatra. Following a series of roles at the Arts and with the Repertory Players, he had rising success as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in Moulin Rouge at the then New Theatre, Bromley, and appeared as Barnaby Tucker in The Matchmaker at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, both 1954. After appearances as Dr Bird in The Caine Mutiny Court Martial
The Caine Mutiny Court Martial
at the London
Hippodrome in 1956, and Michael Claverton-Ferry in T. S. Eliot's The Elder Statesman, first at the Edinburgh Festival
Edinburgh Festival
in 1958, then at the Cambridge Theatre, he joined the Old Vic
Old Vic
Company for its 1959–60 season, among several parts taking the title role in Richard II, then stayed on for the 1960–61 season to play Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream
and Malvolio in Twelfth Night. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company
Royal Shakespeare Company
in September 1962, appearing at Stratford-upon-Avon
playing Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors and the Fool to Paul Scofield's King Lear, subsequently appearing in both plays at the Aldwych Theatre
Aldwych Theatre
in December 1962 – performing these roles again for a British Council
British Council
tour of the Soviet Union, Europe and the United States from February to June 1964. With the RSC he also played "the gruelling role"[7] of Father Riccardo Fontana in Rolf Hochhuth's controversial play The Representative at the Aldwych in December 1963. Later theatre work[edit] He enjoyed a career breakthrough at the Mermaid Theatre
Mermaid Theatre
in April 1968 as Fr. William Rolfe in Hadrian the Seventh, winning his first Evening Standard Award as Best Actor for the London
production and a Tony nomination after the transfer to Broadway. At the Royal Court in August 1970, McCowen was cast to play the title role in Christopher Hampton's sophisticated comedy, The Philanthropist. If a philanthropist is literally someone who likes people, McCowen's Philip was a philologist with a compulsive urge not to hurt people's feelings – the inverse of Molière's The Misanthrope. Following enthusiastic reviews the production played to packed houses and transferred to the Mayfair Theatre
Mayfair Theatre
where it ran for a further three years, making it the Royal Court's most successful straight play. McCowen and his co-star Jane Asher
Jane Asher
went with it to Broadway in March 1971 where he won the 1971 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance. His next big successes were in National Theatre Comnpany productions at the Old Vic. In February 1973 he co-starred with Diana Rigg
Diana Rigg
in Molière's The Misanthrope
The Misanthrope
for which he won his second Evening Standard award; followed in July 1973 by the role of psychiatrist Martin Dysart ("played on a knife edge of professional skill and personal disgust by McCowen", according to Irving Wardle
Irving Wardle
reviewing for The Times) in the world premiere of Peter Shaffer's Equus. McCowen devised and directed his own solo performance of the complete text of the St. Mark's Gospel, for which he received international acclaim and another Tony nomination. It opened first at the Riverside Studios in January 1978 before beginning a long West End season at the Mermaid Theatre
Mermaid Theatre
then at the Comedy Theatre. Taking the production to New York, he appeared at the Marymount Manhattan
Marymount Manhattan
and Playhouse theatres. Christopher Hampton's stage adaptation of George Steiner's novel The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. at the Mermaid in 1982 gave McCowen a great final speech, an attempted vindication of racial extermination delivered by Adolf Hitler, which for Guardian critic Michael Billington was "one of the greatest pieces of acting I have ever seen: a shuffling, grizzled, hunched, baggy figure, yet suggesting the monomaniac power of the Nuremberg Rallies, inhabiting the frail vessel of this old man's body." It was a performance that also won him his third Evening Standard Best Actor award, a record equalled only by Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
and Paul Scofield. Two years later, again at the Mermaid, McCowen gave a portrayal of the British poet Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
in a one-man play by Brian Clark, performed in a setting that exactly matched Kipling's own study at Bateman's
(his Jacobean rustic haven in Sussex) "and turning", as Michael Billington wrote, "an essentially private man into a performer." McCowen appeared in the play on Broadway and on television for Channel 4. Directing[edit] While preparing to co-star as Vladimir to John Alderton's Estragon in Michael Rudman's acclaimed production of Waiting for Godot
Waiting for Godot
at the National Theatre in November 1987, McCowen also spent a busy autumn staging Martin Crimp's trilogy of short plays Definitely the Bahamas at the Orange Tree Theatre
Orange Tree Theatre
in Richmond upon Thames, having previously enjoyed Crimp's style of writing in a BBC radio version of Three Attempted Acts. As Charles Spencer wrote in The Daily Telegraph: "As a director McCowen captures both the subtlety and the richness of these three original and beautifully written plays." At the Hampstead Theatre
Hampstead Theatre
in December 1972 he directed a revival of Terence Rattigan's wartime London
comedy While the Sun Shines. Film and television[edit] McCowen made his film debut in The Cruel Sea released in 1953. His other film credits include roles in Town on Trial
Town on Trial
(1957), A Night to Remember (1958), The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962), The Witches (1966), Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy
(1972), Travels with My Aunt (1972, for which he received a Golden Globe
Golden Globe
nomination), Never Say Never Again (1983) and Henry V (1989) Television roles included the BBC four-part adaptation of J. B. Priestley's Angel Pavement
Angel Pavement
(1958), and his one-man stage performance of The Gospel According to Saint Mark, transferred to television by Thames for Easter 1979.[8] He appeared in the BBC Television Shakespeare series as Malvolio in Twelfth Night
Twelfth Night
and as Chorus in Henry V, and starred in the lead role of the 1980s TV series Mr. Palfrey of Westminster. His one-man Kipling stage performance was broadcast in 1984,[citation needed] and his later appearances included Albert Speer and Rudolf Hess
Rudolf Hess
in the BBC docudramas The World Walk in 1984 and 1985, and the TV series Longitude in 2000.[citation needed] He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1989 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel at the Strand Theatre in London. Literature[edit] McCowen published his first volume of autobiography, Young Gemini in 1979, followed a year later by Double Bill (Elm Tree Books). Filmography[edit]

The Cruel Sea (1953) – Tonbridge The Divided Heart
The Divided Heart
(1954) – Reporter The Deep Blue Sea (1955) – Ken Thompson Private's Progress
Private's Progress
(1956) – 2nd Medical Orderly (uncredited) The Long Arm (1956) – House Surgeon Town on Trial
Town on Trial
(1957) – Peter Crowley Time Without Pity
Time Without Pity
(1957) – Alec Graham The Good Companions (1957) – Albert Oakroyd The One That Got Away (1957) – Duty Officer, Hucknall The Silent Enemy (1958) – Able Seaman Morgan A Night to Remember (1958) – Wireless Operator Harold Thomas Cottam – Carpathia The Doctor's Dilemma (1958) – Redpenny A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream
(1959) – Bottom (voice) The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) – Brown In the Cool of the Day
In the Cool of the Day
(1963) – Dickie Bayliss The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) – (uncredited)

The Witches (1966) – Alan Bax The Hawaiians (1970) – Micah Hale Frenzy
(1972) – Chief Inspector Oxford Travels with My Aunt (1972) – Henry Pulling Stevie (1978) – Freddy Hanover Street (1979) – Major Trumbo Twelfth Night
Twelfth Night
(1980) – Malvolio Forever Young (1983) – Father Vincent Never Say Never Again
Never Say Never Again
(1983) – 'Q' Algy The Young Visiters (1984) – J.M. Barrie The Assam Garden
The Assam Garden
(1985) – Mr. Philpott Personal Services
Personal Services
(1987) – Wing Commander Morten Cry Freedom
Cry Freedom
(1987) – Acting High Commissioner Henry V (1989) – Bishop of Ely The Age of Innocence (1993) – Sillerton Jackson Gangs of New York
(2002) – Reverend Raleigh (final film role)

List of theatre roles[edit]

Sir Henry Harcourt-Reilly in The Cocktail Party, Phoenix Theatre, July 1986; Nikolai in Brian Friel's Turgenev
adaptation Fathers and Sons, National Theatre, July 1987; Vladimir in Waiting for Godot, National Theatre, November 1987; Harry Rivers in Jeffrey Archer's Exclusive, Strand Theatre, September 1989, George in A Single Man, Greenwich Theatre, June 1990; Jack in Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa, Abbey Theatre, Dublin and National Theatre, October 1990; Phoenix Theatre, March 1991; and Garrick Theatre, December 1991; Caesar in Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra, Greenwich Theatre, February 1992, Michael in Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, Hampstead Theatre, July 1992; Vaudeville Theatre, September 1992; the Booth Theatre, New York, November 1992 to June 1993; Edward Elgar in David Pownall's Elgar's Rondo, RSC The Pit, May 1994; Prospero in The Tempest
The Tempest
RSC Barbican Theatre, July 1994; Reginald Pager (a retired opera singer) in Ronald Harwood's Quartet, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
and Albery Theatre, September 1999 – January 2000.

Honours[edit] He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Order of the British Empire
(OBE) in the 1972 New Year Honours[9] and raised to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1986 New Year Honours.[10] On 2 May 2017 McCowen was accorded a memorial service at The Actor's Church St Paul's Covent Garden, conducted by the Rev'd Simon Grigg. McCowen's nephew The Rev'd Nigel Mumford read an affectionate remembrance from McCowen's sister Jean Mumford's memoirs titled "Childhood memories of Panto's". The tribute was movingly read by Dame Penelope Wilton, followed by a tribute from the playwright Christopher Hampton. Rebecca Trehearn sang "Bill" from Show Boat, which was followed by a tribute from the theatre critic Michael Billington and a tribute by the actor Malcolm Sinclair. After final prayers a plaque to McCowen was dedicated by the Rev'd Grigg to the left of the altar.[citation needed] Bibliography[edit]

Theatre Record and its annual Indexes Who's Who in the Theatre, 17th edition, ed Ian Herbert, Gale (1981) ISBN 0-8103-0234-9. Double Bill (autobiography) by Alec McCowen, Elm Tree Books (1980) ISBN 0-241-10395-9. The National: The Theatre and its Work 1963–1997 by Simon Callow, Nick Hern Books/NT (1997) ISBN 1-85459-323-4. Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies, 4th (and final) edition, ed John Walker, HarperCollins 2006 ISBN 978-0-00-716957-3 Halliwell's Television Companion, 3rd edition, Grafton (1986) ISBN 0-246-12838-0. Memorial service notes added by Bryan Hewitt

See also[edit]

Tale Spinners For Children


^ "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2014. Mr Alec McCowen, actor, is 86  ^ " Alec McCowen
Alec McCowen
Biography (1925–)". Filmreference.com. 1925-05-26. Retrieved 2015-08-10.  ^ Still Acting Gay: Male Homosexuality in Modern Drama: John M. Clum: 9780312223847: Amazon.com: Books. Amazon.com. ASIN 0312223846. CS1 maint: ASIN uses ISBN (link) ^ "Smart Alec". Connection.ebscohost.com. Retrieved 2015-08-10.  ^ The Advocate – Google Books. Books.google.com. 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2015-08-10.  ^ " Alec McCowen
Alec McCowen
obituary". The Guardian. 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017.  ^ Double Bill by Alec McCowen, Elm Tree Books (1980), ISBN 0-241-10395-9, page 7. ^ "BFI Film & TV Database The GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MARK (1979)". Ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 1 March 2012.  ^ "Viewing Page 11 of Issue 45554". London-gazette.co.uk. 31 December 1971. Retrieved 1 March 2012.  ^ " Alec McCowen
Alec McCowen
BFI". Ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. 2015-07-02. Retrieved 2015-08-10. 

External links[edit]

Selected performances in the Theatre Archive, University of Bristol Alec McCowen
Alec McCowen
on IMDb Alec McCowen's appearance on This Is Your Life Alec McCowen
Alec McCowen
on BFI Alec McCowen
Alec McCowen
at the Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database

v t e

Royal Tunbridge Wells

Locations within Tunbridge Wells

Hawkenbury High Brooms Langton Green Rusthall The Pantiles


High Brooms
High Brooms
station High Rocks
High Rocks
halt Holy Trinity Church Hungershall Forge Kent
and Sussex
Hospital King Charles the Martyr Church Royal Victoria Place St. Mark's Church St. Paul's Church Standings Mill The Opera House Tunbridge Wells station Tunbridge Wells West station


BBC South East Freight Transport Association Kent
and Sussex
Courier Subbuteo


List of people from Royal Tunbridge Wells Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells


Tunbridge Wells constituency (since 1974) Tunbridge Wells borough (since 1974) Local elections

Schools and colleges

Beechwood Sacred Heart Bennett Memorial Skinners' St. Gregory's Tunbridge Wells Boys Grammar Tunbridge Wells Girls' Grammar School K College

Sport, leisure and the arts

Assembly Hall Theatre BBC Radio Kent Dunorlan Park High Rocks Ice Melters Curling Club KMFM West Kent Linden Park Cricket Club Nevill Ground South East Today Spa Valley Railway Trinity Theatre Tunbridge ware Tunbridge Wells Cricket Week Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club Tunbridge Wells Football club Tunbridge Wells Forum Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon Tunbridge Wells Rugby club

Twin towns


Italics denote places in East Sussex
included as they are generally considered part of Tunbridge Wells.

v t e

Drama League's Distinguished Performance Award

Katharine Cornell
Katharine Cornell
(1935) Helen Hayes
Helen Hayes
(1936) Maurice Evans (1937) Cedric Hardwicke
Cedric Hardwicke
(1938) Raymond Massey
Raymond Massey
(1939) Paul Muni
Paul Muni
(1940) Paul Lukas
Paul Lukas
(1941) Judith Evelyn
Judith Evelyn
(1942) Alfred Lunt
Alfred Lunt
(1943) Lynn Fontanne
Lynn Fontanne
(1944) Mady Christians
Mady Christians
(1945) Louis Calhern
Louis Calhern
(1946) Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman
(1947) Judith Anderson
Judith Anderson
(1948) Robert Morley
Robert Morley
(1949) Grace George
Grace George
(1950) Claude Rains
Claude Rains
(1951) Julie Harris (1952) Shirley Booth
Shirley Booth
(1953) Josephine Hull (1954) Viveca Lindfors
Viveca Lindfors
(1955) David Wayne
David Wayne
(1956) Eli Wallach
Eli Wallach
(1957) Ralph Bellamy
Ralph Bellamy
(1958) Cyril Ritchard
Cyril Ritchard
(1959) Jessica Tandy
Jessica Tandy
(1960) Hume Cronyn
Hume Cronyn
(1961) Paul Scofield
Paul Scofield
(1962) Charles Boyer
Charles Boyer
(1963) Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness
(1964) John Gielgud
John Gielgud
(1965) Richard Kiley
Richard Kiley
(1966) Rosemary Harris
Rosemary Harris
(1967) Zoe Caldwell (1968) Alec McCowen
Alec McCowen
(1969) James Stewart
James Stewart
(1970) Anthony Quayle
Anthony Quayle
(1971) Eileen Atkins / Claire Bloom
Claire Bloom
(1972) Alan Bates
Alan Bates
(1973) Christopher Plummer
Christopher Plummer
(1974) John Wood (1975) Eva Le Gallienne
Eva Le Gallienne
(1976) Tom Courtenay
Tom Courtenay
(1977) Frank Langella
Frank Langella
(1978) Frances Sternhagen
Frances Sternhagen
(1979) Roy Scheider
Roy Scheider
(1980) Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
(1981) Milo O'Shea
Milo O'Shea
(1982) Edward Herrmann
Edward Herrmann
/ Kate Nelligan (1983) Jeremy Irons
Jeremy Irons
(1984) Derek Jacobi
Derek Jacobi
(1985) Bernadette Peters
Bernadette Peters
(1986) James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones
(1987) John Lithgow
John Lithgow
(1988) Pauline Collins
Pauline Collins
(1989) Robert Morse
Robert Morse
(1990) Stockard Channing
Stockard Channing
(1991) Glenn Close
Glenn Close
(1992) Stephen Rea
Stephen Rea
(1993) Sam Waterston
Sam Waterston
(1994) Cherry Jones
Cherry Jones
(1995) Uta Hagen
Uta Hagen
(1996) Charles Durning
Charles Durning
/ Bebe Neuwirth
Bebe Neuwirth
(1997) Brian Stokes Mitchell
Brian Stokes Mitchell
(1998) Kathleen Chalfant (1999) Eileen Heckart (2000) Mary-Louise Parker
Mary-Louise Parker
/ Gary Sinise
Gary Sinise
(2001) Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson
(2002) Harvey Fierstein
Harvey Fierstein
(2003) Hugh Jackman
Hugh Jackman
(2004) Norbert Leo Butz
Norbert Leo Butz
(2005) Christine Ebersole
Christine Ebersole
(2006) Liev Schreiber
Liev Schreiber
(2007) Patti LuPone
Patti LuPone
(2008) Geoffrey Rush
Geoffrey Rush
(2009) Alfred Molina
Alfred Molina
(2010) Mark Rylance
Mark Rylance
(2011) Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald
(2012) Nathan Lane
Nathan Lane
(2013) Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris
(2014) Chita Rivera
Chita Rivera
(2015) Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lin-Manuel Miranda
(2016) Ben Platt (2017)

v t e

Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actor


Richard Burton
Richard Burton
(1955) Paul Scofield
Paul Scofield
(1956) Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
(1957) Michael Redgrave
Michael Redgrave
(1958) Eric Porter (1959)


Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness
(1960) Christopher Plummer
Christopher Plummer
(1961) Paul Scofield
Paul Scofield
(1962) Michael Redgrave
Michael Redgrave
(1963) Nicol Williamson
Nicol Williamson
(1964) Ian Holm
Ian Holm
(1965) Albert Finney
Albert Finney
(1966) Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
(1967) Alec McCowen
Alec McCowen
(1968) Nicol Williamson
Nicol Williamson


John Gielgud
John Gielgud
(1970) Alan Bates
Alan Bates
(1971) Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
(1972) Alec McCowen
Alec McCowen
(1973) John Wood (1974) John Gielgud
John Gielgud
(1975) Albert Finney
Albert Finney
(1976) Donald Sinden
Donald Sinden
(1977) Alan Howard (1978) Warren Mitchell
Warren Mitchell


Tom Courtenay
Tom Courtenay
(1980) Alan Howard (1981) Alec McCowen
Alec McCowen
(1982) Derek Jacobi
Derek Jacobi
(1983) Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
(1984) Antony Sher (1985) Albert Finney
Albert Finney
(1986) Michael Gambon
Michael Gambon
(1987) Eric Porter (1988) Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen


Richard Harris
Richard Harris
(1990) John Wood (1991) Nigel Hawthorne (1992) Ian Holm
Ian Holm
(1993) Tom Courtenay
Tom Courtenay
(1994) Michael Gambon
Michael Gambon
(1995) Paul Scofield
Paul Scofield
(1996) Ian Holm
Ian Holm
(1997) Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey
(1998) Stephen Dillane
Stephen Dillane


Simon Russell Beale
Simon Russell Beale
(2000) Alex Jennings (2001) Simon Russell Beale
Simon Russell Beale
(2002) Michael Sheen
Michael Sheen
(2003) Richard Griffiths
Richard Griffiths
(2004) Simon Russell Beale
Simon Russell Beale
(2005) Rufus Sewell
Rufus Sewell
(2006) Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart
(2007) Chiwetel Ejiofor
Chiwetel Ejiofor
(2008) Mark Rylance
Mark Rylance


Rory Kinnear
Rory Kinnear
(2010) Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch
and Jonny Lee Miller
Jonny Lee Miller
(2011) Simon Russell Beale
Simon Russell Beale
(2012) Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear
Rory Kinnear
(2013) Tom Hiddleston
Tom Hiddleston
(2014) James McAvoy
James McAvoy
(2015) Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes
(2016) Andrew Garfield
Andrew Garfield

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 85145399 LCCN: n79081597 ISNI: 0000 0001 0802 5884 GND: 129535125 SUDOC: 092253997 BNF: cb14049027r (data) BIBS