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Obituary: Paul Scofield

Paul Scofield in A Man for All Seasons
Oscar winner: Scofield in A Man for All Seasons
With his rich voice and distinguished face, Paul Scofield was one of the greatest actors of his age, playing nearly all the major Shakespearean roles - most notably King Lear - on stage and screen.

Scofield's other memorable stage performances included playing the twin brothers in Anouilh's Ring Round the Moon, the priest in The Power and the Glory and Salieri in Amadeus.

He also played Sir Thomas More in the stage and screen versions of A Man for All Seasons.

He won an Oscar for that role in 1967 but, even then, in spite of tempting film offers, he never deserted his first love, the stage.

David Paul Scofield was born in Sussex in 1922, the son of a village headmaster. His first experience of acting came while he was at school in Brighton, and he made his professional debut in London in January 1940.

The Army turned him down on medical grounds and he spent the war with various repertory companies, including two years with Birmingham Rep and a tour with ENSA. Just after the war he had two seasons at Stratford-upon-Avon, playing Henry V, among other roles.

Then, in 1950, came Ring Round the Moon. He was with John Gielgud's company in the early 1950s, and in 1955 played Hamlet in London and Moscow.

The following year he won an Evening Standard award in The Power and the Glory. He branched out in 1958, making a first - and acclaimed - appearance in a musical as a singer's agent in Expresso Bongo.

Scofield appeared in A Man for All Seasons in London in 1960, and made a triumphant debut on Broadway in the same play the following year.

Two years later, came what is generally considered to have been his greatest role - King Lear in Peter Brook's production, first at Stratford, then in London, Paris and many East European cities - including Moscow - and New York.

A private man

In 1971, he won more awards for the film of King Lear. He also played Macbeth in Finland and Russia.

He worked a lot with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. More recently, he collected honours for I'm Not Rappaport, about two old men who meet in a park.

Paul Scofield made few films. His first, That Lady, in which he played Philip II of Spain, brought him offers which he didn't take up. He was also in Carve Her Name with Pride.A Man for All Seasons was only his fourth film.

He was to have been in The Shooting Party in 1983, but broke a leg and a couple of ribs in an accident on the first day of filming, and was replaced by James Mason.

And, in 1995, he was nominated for, but did not win, an Oscar for his role in the film Quiz Show.

Paul Scofield appeared only occasionally on television, but made a notable appearance in the BBC adaptation of Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit.

On radio, he played Macbeth and Othello, among other roles. Throughout his career, critics raved about Scofield's distinguished appearance, noble features and tremendous presence.

And his voice, which could thunder at one moment before turning into a whisper the next, enthralled audiences around the world.

Offstage, he kept his private life private. He was married to the actress, Joy Parker, and they had a son and a daughter.

He received a CBE in 1956, but is thought to have consistently rejected attempts to give him a knighthood. But in the New Year's Honours for 2001, he was made a Companion of Honour.

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Oscar-winning actor Scofield dies
20 Mar 08 |  Entertainment

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