The Info List - Robert Stephens

Sir Robert Graham Stephens (14 July 1931 – 12 November 1995) was a leading English actor in the early years of Britain's Royal National Theatre. He was one of the most respected actors of his generation and was at one time regarded as the natural successor to Laurence Olivier.[1]


1 Early life and career 2 Personal life 3 Death 4 Filmography

4.1 Film 4.2 Television

5 References 6 Bibliography 7 External links

Early life and career[edit] Stephens was born in Shirehampton, Bristol, in 1931. When aged 18, he won a scholarship to Esme Church's Bradford Civic Theatre School in Yorkshire, where he met his first wife Nora, a fellow student.[2] His first professional engagement was with the Caryl Jenner Mobile Theatre, which he followed in 1951 by a year of more challenging parts in repertory at the Royalty Theatre, Morecambe, followed by seasons of touring and at the Hippodrome, Preston. The London
director Tony Richardson saw a performance at the Royalty and this led to an offer of a place in the "momentous" first season of English Stage Company
English Stage Company
at the Royal Court in 1956. His success was assured.[2] His early films included A Taste of Honey (1961), Cleopatra (1963) and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) with his then wife Maggie Smith. There was also a minor role as Prince Escalus in Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet (1968), as well as a starring role in Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
(1970) and the science fiction film The Asphyx
The Asphyx
(1973). Stephens played Atahuallpa
in the original 1964 National Theatre production of The Royal Hunt of the Sun. He and Smith appeared together on stage and in film, notably in The Recruiting Officer
The Recruiting Officer
at the Old Vic
Old Vic
and the film version of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1969.[3] However, following his departure from the National Theatre in 1970 and the break-up of their marriage in 1973, he suffered a career slump, not helped by heavy drinking and a breakdown.[4] Although he continued to work on stage (notably in the National Theatre's The Mysteries in 1986), film ( The Fruit Machine
The Fruit Machine
in 1988—titled Wonderland in the US—and Kenneth Branagh's Henry V), and television (notably in the role of Abner Brown in the 1984 BBC TV dramatisation of the children's classic The Box of Delights[5] and as the Master of an Oxford college in an episode of Inspector Morse), it was not until the 1990s that he re-established himself at the forefront of his profession, when the Royal Shakespeare Company invited him to play Falstaff
in Henry IV for director Adrian Noble (opening April 1991), the title roles in Julius Caesar (director Stephen Pimlott) later in the year and then King Lear, again for Noble, in May 1993.[6] He was awarded the Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Theatre Award in 1993 for Best Actor, for his performance as Falstaff.[1] Stephens provided the voice of Aragorn
in the 1981 BBC Radio serialisation of The Lord of the Rings. In 1985, he directed the British premiere production of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea by John Patrick Shanley at the Gate Theatre. Stephens was knighted in 1995. Personal life[edit] Stephens was married four times:

1951: to Nora Ann Simmons; they had one child, Michael Stephens, and divorced in 1952.[2][3] 1956: to Tarn Bassett; they had a daughter, Lucy, and divorced in 1967 1967: to Dame Maggie Smith; they had two sons, the actors Toby Stephens and Chris Larkin, and divorced in 1974. 1995: to Belfast-born Patricia Quinn
Patricia Quinn
(Lady Stephens; born 28 May 1944).

Death[edit] Following years of ill health, he died on 12 November 1995 at the age of 64 due to complications during surgery,[7] eleven months after having been knighted. Filmography[edit] Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes

1956 War and Peace Officer Talking with Natasha Uncredited

1960 A Circle of Deception Captain Stein

1961 A Taste of Honey Peter Smith

Pirates of Tortuga Henry Morgan

The Queen's Guards Henry Wynne-Walton

Lunch Hour The Man

1962 The Inspector Dickens Released as Lisa in USA

1963 The Small World of Sammy Lee Gerry Sullivan

Cleopatra Germanicus

1966 Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment Charlies Napier

1968 Romeo and Juliet The Prince of Verona

1969 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Teddy Lloyd

1970 The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes

1972 The Asphyx Sir Hugo Cunningham

Travels with My Aunt Ercole Visconti

1974 Luther Johan Von Eck

1977 The Duellists General Treillard

At Night All Cats Are Crazy Charles Watson

1978 The Shout Chief Medical Officer

1981 The Games of Countess Dolingen The Professor

1983 Ill Fares the Land

1986 Comrades Frampton

1987 High Season Konstantinis

Empire of the Sun Mr Lockwood

1988 American Roulette Screech

The Fruit Machine Vincent

Ada in the Jungle Lord Gordon

Testimony Vsevolod Meyerhold

1989 Henry V Auncient Pistol

1990 Wings of Fame Merrick

The Bonfire of the Vanities Sir Gerald Moore

The Children Azariah Dobree

1991 The Pope Must Die The Camarlengo

Ferdydurke Prof. Pimco Alternative title: 30 Door Key

Afraid of the Dark Dan Burns

1992 Chaplin Ted the Drunk

1993 Searching for Bobby Fischer Poe's teacher

The Secret Rapture Max Lopert

Century Mr Reisner

1995 England, My England John Dryden (Last appearance)


Year Title Role Notes

1956 Nom-de-Plume John Episode: The Counting House Clerk

1964 Channing Paddy Riordan Episode: A Bang and a Whimper

First Night Arnold Claybill Episode: The Improbable Mr Claybill

1971 The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes Max Carrados Episode: The Missing Witness Sensation

1974 QB VII Robert Highsmith TV miniseries, 3 episodes

1978 Holocaust Uncle Kurt Dorf TV miniseries, 4 episodes

1982 Anyone for Denis? Schubert TV Movie

1983 Studio Lyndsay 7 episodes

1984 The Box of Delights Abner Brown 6 episodes, recurring role

Fortunes of War Bill Castlebar 3 episodes

1986 Hell's Bells Bishop Godfrey Hethercote 6 episodes

1987 Inspector Morse Sir Wilfred Mulryne Episode: The Settling of the Sun

1988-89 War and Remembrance SS Maj. Karl Rahn TV mini series, 3 episodes

1989 South Bank Show[8] Raymond Chandler TV arts series, 1 episode, dramatised readings

1994 - 95 99-1 Commander Oakwood 7 episodes


^ a b Benedick, Adam (14 November 1995). "Obituary: Sir Robert Stephens". The Independent. p. 18. Retrieved 14 June 2012.  ^ a b c Stephens, Robert; Coveney, Michael (1995). Knight
Errant. London: Hodder and Stoughton. pp. 11–15. ISBN 0-340-64970-4.  ^ a b Coveney, Michael (2004). "Stephens, Sir Robert Graham (1931–1995)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/60387.  ^ Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 269. ISBN 1-84854-195-3.  ^ Piers Torday (30 November 2017). "Long before Harry Potter, The Box of Delights remade children's fantasy". theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 4 February 2018.  ^ "RSC performance database". The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Archive Catalogue. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Archived from the original on 1 September 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2012.  ^ The New York Times ^ http://articles.latimes.com/1989-11-16/entertainment/ca-1817_1_raymond-chandler


Stephens, Robert; Coveney, Michael. (1995). Knight
Errant. Hodder and Stoughton Stevens, Christopher. (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams. John Murray McFarlane, Brian. (2005). The Encyclopaedia of British Film. Methuen, 2nd edition

External links[edit]

Robert Stephens
Robert Stephens
at Find a Grave Robert Stephens
Robert Stephens
on IMDb Robert Stephens
Robert Stephens
at screenonline Portraits of Stephens at the National Portrait Gallery

v t e

Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Award for Best Actor

Antony Sher (1985) Albert Finney
Albert Finney
(1986) Michael Gambon
Michael Gambon
(1987) Oliver Ford Davies
Oliver Ford Davies
(1989/1990) Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
(1991) Nigel Hawthorne (1992) Robert Stephens
Robert Stephens
(1993) Mark Rylance
Mark Rylance
(1994) David Bamber (1995) Alex Jennings (1996) Antony Sher (1997) Ian Holm
Ian Holm
(1998) Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey
(1999) Henry Goodman
Henry Goodman
(2000) Conleth Hill
Conleth Hill
(2001) Roger Allam
Roger Allam
(2002) Simon Russell Beale
Simon Russell Beale
(2003) Matthew Kelly (2004) Richard Griffiths
Richard Griffiths
(2005) Brian Dennehy
Brian Dennehy
(2006) Rufus Sewell
Rufus Sewell
(2007) Chiwetel Ejiofor
Chiwetel Ejiofor
(2008) Derek Jacobi
Derek Jacobi
(2009) Mark Rylance
Mark Rylance
(2010) Roger Allam
Roger Allam
(2011) Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch
and Jonny Lee Miller
Jonny Lee Miller
(2012) Luke Treadaway (2013) Rory Kinnear
Rory Kinnear
(2014) Mark Strong
Mark Strong
(2015) Kenneth Cranham (2016) Jamie Parker (2017)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 69131273 LCCN: n86138332 ISNI: 0000 0001 2138 2640 GND: 119540703 SUDOC: 13016657X BNF: cb140442184 (data) BNE: XX1743163 SN