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Monday, 7 August, 2000, 07:32 GMT 08:32 UK
Sir Alec Guinness dies
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.
"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."
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.
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.