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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.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
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.
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.
This gives the lie to the cliché "only the good die young".
H R Davidson, Canada
Sir John Gielgud
The greatest actor - ever!
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.
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!
Waris Hussein, USA/UK
Simply, he was God's gift to the theatre and to man.
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...
The world's in mourning. At this sad time, my thoughts go out to Martin.
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.
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.
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.
Here was a man,
A tear - has fallen this day.
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.
Harvey Alten, USA
No matter what play or movie he was in, Sir John gave 100%, and he will be sorely missed.
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.
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.
Rest in Eternal Peace, Sir John, and may choirs of angels sing thee to thy rest.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What more can be said. Shakespeare = Gielgud. The RSC and the acting world with find difficulty in replacing such consummate talent.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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
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.
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.
I am sending my tribute to Sir John and pray for him always.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
He was an actor who was dignified and poised, full of charm and wit. The world of entertainment will sorely miss him.
Goodbye John I shall raise a glass.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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"...
I enjoyed Sir John when he played the
butler in Arthur - he was terrific. He was quite
an actor and he will be missed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sir John will be remembered not only here
but also outside the UK for being perhpas
the epitomy of the values of English theatre.
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