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The BBC's Nick Higham
"The greatest British screen actor of the last century"
 real 28k

Theatre Critic Sheridan Morley
"He invented British Cinema"
 real 56k

Ronald Neame, film producer
"He became the character that he played like a chameleon"
 real 28k

Actor, John Mills
"He was a no nonsense actor"
 real 28k

Monday, 7 August, 2000, 07:32 GMT 08:32 UK
Sir Alec Guinness dies
Sir Alec Guinness
Sir Alec Guinness's acting career spanned 60 years
The actor Sir Alec Guinness has died in hospital at the age of 86.

The veteran film star of numerous Ealing comedies and Star Wars passed away at the King Edward VII Hospital in Midhurst, West Sussex, on Saturday.

He was one of the last surviving members of a great generation of UK actors, which included Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson.

In The Lavender Hill Mob, 1951
In The Lavender Hill Mob, 1951
Ronald Neame, the producer of Great Expectations and Oliver Twist in which Sir Alec starred, told Radio Five Live that Sir Alec was one of the all-time greats.

"He taught me more about acting than anybody else I have ever met or am likely to meet," he said.

"He was like a chameleon - he became the character he was playing. I made six pictures with him and they were the happiest films of my entire life."

Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson, Sir Alec's former publicist and agent, said: "This is terribly sad news."

He told the Daily Telegraph: "I know Alec had been ill for some time and his wife is not that well either. He was a marvellous actor and will be sorely missed."

as Obi Wan Kenobi
Sir Alec was said to have hated his part in Star Wars
Sir Alec was taken to hospital by ambulance on Thursday from his home in the village of Steep Marsh, near Petersfield, Hampshire.

A Hampshire Ambulance spokesman said: "We received a routine call on Thursday evening from his GP and took him to hospital. It wasn't an emergency."

The hospital would not reveal the cause of death, but Sir Alec had been suffering from ill health for a number of years.

He had chronic glaucoma and had undergone cataract surgery to restore his vision.

Star Wars

The actor, whose career covered 60 years, was famous for his role in the Ealing comedy films.

His performance as the Colonel in Bridge On the River Kwai won him an Oscar and led to his knighthood in the same year, 1959.

But to anyone under 30 he was probably most famous for playing the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977's Star Wars.

It was, however, a role he said he disliked, throwing away all Star Wars fan-mail unopened.

Sir Alec married playwright Merula Salaman in 1938. They had one son, Matthew.

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01 Jun 00 | UK
Final farewell to Gielgud
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