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Thursday, 25 May, 2000, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
A British legend: Your tributes to Sir John Gielgud

Sir John Gielgud, one of the greatest British actors of his generation, has died at home.

Famous for his Shakespearean skill, sharp wit and crisp delivery of the English language, the 96-year-old's acting career spanned an amazing 79 years.

Sir John's official biographer Sheridan Morley said: "He was the greatest actor and his life was exactly the history of British theatre in the last century."

What are your fondest memories of this acting great? Send us your tributes to Sir John Gielgud. HAVE YOUR SAY Gieldgud's name has been a stamp of quality on any film or performance I have seen. A real inspiration to hopefuls everywhere, he has kept the importance of quality performance alive in a world where mass production for the sake of money is in danger of ruining our drama.
Drama Student, England

This gives the lie to the cliché "only the good die young".
Chris Hann, USA



If only he were here to read to us the honours bestowed upon him, he would give them such magnificence

H R Davidson, Canada
It seems when certain people pass no matter how elegant the written words describing their lives they cannot capture the essence of the person and they always fall flat. This is the case with Sir John. If only he were here to read to us the honours bestowed upon him, he would give them such magnificence.
H R Davidson, Canada

Sir John Gielgud The greatest actor - ever!
Michael Schmitten, Germany

I would love to have seen Sir John perform Shakespeare on stage, however it brought me great pleasure seeing his many wonderful film and television performances. He was one of the greatest actors and he will be greatly missed.
Chris Fallis, England

My favourite recollection of the great Sir John is a quote I read that was attributed to him. When Noel Coward's mother died, Coward was evidently inconsolable for weeks. Sir John is reported to have said to him something like "dear boy, there are worse things than being an orphan at 64." Magnificent!
William Moreing, USA



As much as Sir John enriched the lives of his audience, working for him was truly a labour of love

Robert Schear, USA
I had the privilege of directing John Gielgud on TV as the Inquisitor in Shaw's "Saint Joan" and at the National Theatre in "Half Life". He was a consummate professional and an artist who loved his work and encouraged those working with him to do their best. He had a full and happy life. I am proud to have counted him as a friend. May he rest in peace.
Waris Hussein, USA/UK

Simply, he was God's gift to the theatre and to man.
Hiran Fernando, Sri Lanka

When we were little, my father would put on a record of Henry V, or Hamlet with Sir John Gielgud so we could appreciate Shakespeare in Freetown. It was a solemn moment. My eldest brother memorised most of the play that way! May his soul rest in piece and for having given so much pleasure to the world, be remembered...
Isa Blyden, Sierra Leone/USA

The world's in mourning. At this sad time, my thoughts go out to Martin.
Nuno Valente, Evora, Portugal

I had the good fortune to meet Sir John while working on the original production of Ages of Man in New York in 1958. I would later work as his assistant when he returned to Broadway to direct and star in Much Ado About Nothing. I can only tell you that as much as Sir John enriched the lives of his audience, working for him was truly a labour of love. I have never met a kinder gentleman. Rest in peace, dear friend.
Robert Schear, USA

I wrote to Sir John in 1996, telling him how much joy he had brought to my life through his film roles and how much I regretted having been born too late to see him on stage. But, thank God, we can treasure memories of that miraculous voice and presence. The photo and signed card he sent are among my most precious possessions.
Michael Izquierdo, USA



Sir John's name has always stood for the sheer brilliance of British theatrical feats

Izrin Muaz, Malaysia
Sir John Gielgud was the greatest classical actor of all time. This is the end of a great age. He was a wonderful human being and I admired him a lot. Laurence Olivier and Sir John Gielgud were the greatest actors to have ever lived. Rest in peace Sir John.
Jacqueline, Mexico

Sir John's name has always stood for the sheer brilliance of British theatrical feats; I shall never forget his narratives in the "English Garden" series which showed that peaches-and-cream voice of his at its very best, words that rolled just like the Capability Brown landscapes that he was describing.
Izrin Muaz, Malaysia

Here was a man, Such greatness, A tear - has fallen this day.
Richard Wade, South Africa

I was fortunate to see him in his last play, "Best of Friends" in 1988. My friends and I went afterwards to a nearby bistro for dinner. When we came out, there he was, walking towards us. We congratulated him, and thanked him for a wonderful evening. "But did you like the play?" he asked, and we assured him we had. "I wish my life had had some of its passion; I hope yours will". he said, smiling, and walked along.
S.Champakalakshmi, Suriname



I had the great pleasure of looking after Sir John when he stayed in the Harrogate hotel in which I worked. He was totally charming and a real pleasure to know

James Cartwright, UK
When John Houseman played the elder Jastrow in the TV miniseries "Winds of War", I thought it would be hard to adjust to John Gielgud taking over the role for the sequel, "War and Remembrance". But he was brilliant in the role (at the time he was 84) and I can't imagine anyone playing it better. An actor's actor. He will be missed.
Harvey Alten, USA

No matter what play or movie he was in, Sir John gave 100%, and he will be sorely missed.
Dianne Stoney, Canada

I had the great pleasure of looking after Sir John when he stayed in the Harrogate hotel in which I worked. He was totally charming and a real pleasure to know.
James Cartwright, UK

To me, a non-native English speaker, Sir John always represented the marvellous English speaker I always wanted to be. His perfect accent will be sorely missed.
Mark Markowitz, Greece

Rest in Eternal Peace, Sir John, and may choirs of angels sing thee to thy rest.
David Frydrychowski, USA (Actor, New York City)

Fifteen years ago my co-worker thought that Sir John had already died and I assured him that he was very much among the living! We had a brief argument and bit of a bet before calling the Screen Actor's Guild. I was amused when the receptionist assured us he was alive and well and asked if we'd like to speak to his agent!! If only that were the case today! I'm sure theatre lights all over the world will be dimmed tonight in memory of Sir John.
Laurie Lane, USA

This is an end of a great era, great art... a sunset of show business nobility, a dramatic irony to end when the new millennium has just begun.
Omer ElSouri, Sudan

We are the lucky ones for we experienced his talent first hand. A great Man, Actor and Mentor he will be sadly missed, but his legend will live on for all.
Lisa, Germany (UK Resident)



I would watch anything this man was in just because you knew it would be quality.

Christopher Barton, USA
I would watch anything this man was in just because you knew it would be quality. It is a loss to the acting world not just to England ,a true English gentleman and great actor.
Christopher Barton, USA

Sir John Gielgud will be missed by the entire world, but not nearly as much as the English citizens will... Bless him.
Sharyn Whiting, USA/UK

What more can be said. Shakespeare = Gielgud. The RSC and the acting world with find difficulty in replacing such consummate talent.
Mike Penrose, East Timor

To me, Sir John stands as 'the' giant of actors in what I consider his greatest role: Aaron Jastrow in the television presentation of "War and Remembrance". Sir John held viewing audiences spellbound and breathless as he took our souls with him into the gas chamber at Auschwitz. No actor has had such a profound effect on me... ever.
Donald McKay, USA

A great actor has died and we who are left behind will surely miss his presence on the stage and screen. The world seems a little darker without Sir John in it.
Frances A. Aspinwall, USA



What I enjoyed most about Sir John was his ability to make the spoken word of Shakespeare wonderful in itself.

Greg Blewitt, USA
"Speak the speech..." What I enjoyed most about Sir John was his ability to make the spoken word of Shakespeare wonderful in itself. His ability to make the language sufficient to convey the meaning must be how it was done in Shakespeare's time...before Dolby sound effects and digital trickery. Are there any other practitioners of the art of speech left?
Greg Blewitt, USA

Much has been said - and rightly - of this magnificent actor and gentlemen. For me, my fondest memories will be his narration's of Vaughan Williams' Pilgrim's progress and Sea Symphony. They are simply without equal in the timbre of their beautiful spoken English.
David Atkins, England



My day always got off to a good start with his Old World courtesy of raising his hat and his "Good Morning"

Mandy Bridger, UK
I was lucky enough to have seen Sir John on stage in several productions, but my overwhelming memories will be the casual meetings I had with this modest man as he took his early morning strolls along Piccadilly. My day always got off to a good start with his Old World courtesy of raising his hat and his "Good Morning". My sincerest condolences to Martin Hensler.
Mandy Bridger, UK

Sir John was a man with incredible talents and a wonderful gift. He made each person feel as though you knew him or he was speaking directly to you. Such a man with the talent of humour and wit will never be seen again. It is truly the end of an era. We miss you Sir John. Rest In Peace.
Jennifer Harris, USA

I won't forget John Gielgud as Charles Ryder's father in Brideshead Revisited in the 80s. The part seemed very characteristic of him: that very English mixture of saintliness, mischief and sheer eccentricity that is all but extinct. A sad loss.
Warwick, UK



As an actor in his 40s I have always looked on Sir John as a father-figure

Richard Willis, UK
As an actor in his 40s, I have always looked on Sir John as a father-figure. Now we are on our own, we shall try not to let him down and keep his tradition of clear and beautiful verse speaking alive. Rest in Peace Sir John.
Richard Willis, UK

One of the foundations and anchors of my early years has gone and we will never see his like again. In New York I lived across West 10 St from his flat (next to a little Portuguese graveyard dated 1598!) Of all his performances I don't believe that anything can excel his (rather minor) role in "The Shooting Party". It was sublime!!
Gordon Thomas, USA

A great actor who chose his roles wisely and adapted to many different types of character - be it on film, television or on the stage
David Baker, UK



I will always remember him for his wit and his perfectionism he put in every single role he played

Marc Huiberts, The Netherlands
The world has lost its best and most beautiful actor with the death of Sir John Gielgud. I will always remember him for his wit and his perfectionism he put in every single role he played. He will be sadly missed in both the film and theatre world.
Marc Huiberts, The Netherlands

Whether the part was great or small, Sir John was the epitome of grace, style, and professionalism. Even in the smallest roles, he presence was commanding, and demanded attention. The one role that comes clearly to mind was that of the British official he played in Gandhi. (The charter's name escapes me just now.) The moment when his character comes face to face with Gandhi, in order to invite him to England for a conference on Indian independence, was one of the most intense moments in the film. Rest in peace Sir John, you've earned it.
Dave Spiro, USA



I first remember seeing him in Arthur when I was very young, and I fell under his spell

Jennifer Harris-Frowen, USA
Sir John Gielgud was, to me, one of the world's finest players. I first remember seeing him in Arthur when I was very young, and I fell under his spell. Such a graceful and dignified person comes along rarely. We shall never see another like him. Thanks for creating so many wonderful memories, Sir John. May you rest in peace.
Jennifer Harris-Frowen, USA

What a sad day! The most elegant voice of the past century has gone. Gielgud was always magnificent, in every film role I saw him in. He was the voice of Shakespeare for the 20th century. I'll miss him! I've seen so many of his films from 1936's "Secret Agent" to 1996's "Hamlet". Goodnight sweet Prince.
Lisa Diedrich, USA

I am sending my tribute to Sir John and pray for him always.
Isatou Camara Darboe, Gambia



The death of an actor who represented the old "school" will, I hope, speed the movement away from the theatre towards newer forms of expression

Chris Lyon, UK
Sir John had a magnificent voice and diction, which we are able to enjoy for many years to come thanks to numerous tapes and CD's and his finest work on video.
Oscar Meijer, The Netherlands

I always knew, when Sir John was in the cast, that I could count on at least one outstanding performance. His voice, his posture, but most importantly, his wry wit that showed through in all his characters made me look forward to watching him perform. I will miss him.
Joan Diamond, USA

The world of theatre in general, and the British theatre in particular, has lost one of its stalwarts with the death of Sir John Gielgud. He was the greatest actor, I can remember and acting was his passion. A big vacuum has been created as a result of this most unassuming actor's demise. It will now be almost impossible to fill the void and get another Sir John to play major Shakespearean roles in the days to come.
Albert Devakaram, India

When Buddy Holly died in 1956, someone said that it was the day the music died. With Sir John's passing, we can say that about the theatre. My deepest condolences to his partner Martin Hensler. Goodbye Sir John, you will be missed.
Connie Concepcion, USA

The death of an actor who represented the old "school" will, I hope, speed the movement away from the theatre towards newer forms of expression. I'm sure he was a fine man but the canonisation of such individuals has done great damage to British performing arts.
Chris Lyon, UK



I saw his performance in Arthur at the age of 12, and wrote to congratulate him. He sent his signed photo along with a compliments card. What an honour for a 12-year-old!

Dave Hartley, England, UK
A consummate player has left the world's stage - He bowed graciously at the final curtain call.
Catherine M. Brown, Australia

There was just something about him, even if he was just doing voice-overs for commercials. He had more talent, wit and charm in his little finger than Barbara Cartland could have mustered in a thousand lifetimes.
Iain Cash, France

He was a great man. I saw his performance in Arthur at the age of 12, and wrote to congratulate him. He sent his signed photo along with a compliments card. What an honour for a 12-year-old!
Dave Hartley, England, UK

He was an actor who was dignified and poised, full of charm and wit. The world of entertainment will sorely miss him.
Avasarala, USA

Goodbye John I shall raise a glass.
Colin Turnip, UK



Sir John Gielgud was a strong supporter of animal protection. In fact, he was awarded PETA's "Humanitarian Award of the Year" twice

Andrew Butler, UK
Gielgud, Richardson and Olivier made the ultimate acting trio!
Patricia J. Moy, USA

Here in the colonies I got to know Sir Ralph Richardson and Sir John Gielgud through the screen. However, thanks to producer Alexander Cohen, I got to see them together on the stage. What a marvellous experience! Together they doubled the pleasure of watching two great actors. May they rest in peace.
Rosemary Kenah, United States

Sir John Gielgud was a strong supporter of animal protection. In fact, he was awarded PETA's "Humanitarian Award of the Year" twice, in 1994 and in 1999. He donated his time to the charity, narrating a video distributed world-wide regarding the cruel treatment of ducks and geese in foie gras production, resulting in cancellations for orders for the "delicacy" from top restaurants. Just this year, he lent his name and image to PETA's campaign to promote health charities that use funds for human clinical studies, hospice and prevention programmes rather than animal tests. He will be sorely missed.
Andrew Butler, UK



Nobody could read Shakespeare, Dickens or Waugh like Gielgud - his voice will always be with me

Ronald Kaduk, Germany
His voice, it was his voice which made me forget anything else. No matter whether I listened to him at home or in the car. He could take me into another world. Nobody could read Shakespeare, Dickens or Waugh like Gielgud. His voice will always be with me
Ronald Kaduk, Germany

The world is a sadder place today. A great actor and human being, now off to join his pals alongside Shakespeare. Gods speed Sir John.
Douglas Gibson, Venezuela

I the thespian, and the gay community, will miss him deeply. We will nether forget the joy he has bought to our lives. My thoughts also go out to Martin Hensler, be strong you will not be alone.
Dr. Anthony Richard Clouder, England, now in Malaysia

I will best remember Sir John for his eloquent portrayal of the father of Charles Ryder in the TV adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.
Lucy Handley, UK



I can't think of a single current actor who possessed his grace

Erich Walrath, USA
John Gielgud brought an elegance to all of his endeavours. I can't think of a single current actor who possessed his grace. News of his passing saddens me at the beginning of what otherwise appears to be a beautiful day. Condolences all around...
Erich Walrath, USA

The 3 greatest actors to have ever lived are now all gone. Richard Burton, Laurence Olivier and now John Gielgud. I can't wait to see Heaven's production of "Hamlet"...
Tony Martin, UK

I enjoyed Sir John when he played the butler in Arthur - he was terrific. He was quite an actor and he will be missed.
Joan Fasczcewski, United States



Sir John created a standard of dignity, humanity, and power that no other actor or actress, living or dead, has ever or will ever match

Bill Both, USA
I had the honour of working as an actor for Sir John in a play in the West End in the mid 70's that flopped terribly. When the "notice" went up Sir John - who had directed the play - wrote personally to every cast member offering his apologies and accepting responsibility. That was just one aspect of his personality that made him a great man as well as a great actor.
Richard Denning, Singapore

I only saw him on stage once, in the 70's, but it was an honour and a privilege to have done so. He was amongst the greatest of his generation, and what a generation of actors it was.
Robert Pollock, Scotland

Whether it was as the haughty aristocratic bigot in Chariots of Fire; the reserved, yet affectionate and witty butler in Arthur; the ferocious yet tender-hearted Canterville Ghost, Sir John created a standard of dignity, humanity, and power that no other actor or actress, living or dead, has ever or will ever match.
Bill Both, USA

Sir John Gielgud was a master of his craft. I was always touched by his gentleness, which came out on the screen. Our loss - heavens gain.
Susan Kanellakis, USA



I was so privileged to have known this gentle giant of the theatre while a drama student in London in the 1970's. He was always kind and considerate to those who sought his advice

David Fox-Brenton, USA
A legend in his own lifetime.
Steve, UK

Sir John was an inspiration to many people because of his acting and his life. Also, I have found his honesty and openness as a gay man made him an inspirational figure.
Martin B-K, UK

I was so privileged to have known this gentle giant of the theatre while a drama student in London in the 1970's. He was always kind and considerate to those who sought his advice. We shall not see his like again,alas.
David Fox-Brenton, USA

A tragic loss. A mighty talent who never succumbed to the temptation of ego. A credit to his profession and his nation - he will be sorely missed.
Paul Baker, England

His role in that dreadful film "Prospero's Books" filled me with despair, but in "Arthur" I don't believe any other actor could have called Dudley Moore "A little shit" in quite the same way as he did. A sad loss for British entertainment.
Ray Marsh, Australia

Sir John will be remembered not only here but also outside the UK for being perhpas the epitomy of the values of English theatre.
George Dobre, UK


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