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Thursday, 17 August, 2000, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Sir Alec Guinness - Your memories and tributes

The world of showbusiness is paying tribute to one of Britain's best loved and most respected screen and stage actors, Sir Alec Guinness, who has died at the age of 86.

During a career that spanned six decades he made more than seventy films, starring in such classics as Great Expectations, Bridge over the River Kwai and Star Wars.

What was your favourite Alec Guinness film? Which is your most memorable moment from his career? Send us your memories and tributes to the acting legend. HAVE YOUR SAY

I had the pleasure of meeting Sir Alec some time ago in London following his version of a Walk in the Woods. What a wonderful experience for someone like me, not in show business. As fine an actor as he is, I found him to be it was truly fine to have him look me in the eye in such a friendly manner and say thank you for my admiration of is efforts. Once again, I say bravo to you Sir, and with glad sadness I remember that night.
Bill Harper, USA


Generations of audiences and actors owe him a great debt, a debt I'm sure he'd have been reluctant to accept

Jeremy Sharp, Canada
With Sir Alec's passing, the worlds of film, theatre, and television have become dimmer. His strength was not merely in his versatility, but in his ability to bring quiet strength and dignity to roles that otherwise might simply have been banal. His performances - so many of them to recall now - all exude a depth of understanding of his individual characters that I think no actor still living can replicate, let alone imitate. Generations of audiences and actors owe him a great debt, a debt I'm sure he'd have been reluctant to accept. The world is somehow smaller with him gone, but somehow greater for having had him tread upon its stage. RIP.
Jeremy Sharp, Canada

He was about the Best British along with Larry Oliver and the World will miss him dearly.
Jerath, USA


He was the best actor ever

Tristan and Sylvia, UK
He was unique and the Film and Theatre world has suffered its greatest loss. He was the best actor ever. Goodnight Sweet Prince.
Tristan and Sylvia, UK

Sir Alec Guinness - smart , dignified, and truly a most captivating stage performer.
Carly, UK

I would have liked to have seen him in the role of brother Cadfael. Much as I respect and enjoy Derek Jacobi's performance, the character is somewhat removed from that of the books and I feel that Sir Alec would have been a better match to the written character.
Mike Bywater, UK


I have seen every film he ever made and he never gave a bad performance in his life, always a touch of class to the film

Sylvia Dry, England
The loss of Sir Alec Guinness has devastated me. I first saw Alec on film when I was only 13 years old in 1957 and instantly became a huge fan. I have seen every film he ever made and he never gave a bad performance in his life, always a touch of class to the film.
He was especially kind to me over this last year, it is said he was not signing anymore, even he in his own books says so. But he must have signed twenty five or more items on separate occasions. Even two half weeks before he passed away he signed three small photos and four theatre programmes of his past plays, he also told me he was far from well, but never did I realise how ill he must have been he was thinking of his fans right to the last.
Sylvia Dry, England

Isn't it strange. It's a long time since I thought about Sir Alec Guinness. But now that he's dead, I feel as if I have lost a close friend.
Eirik Gismervik, Norway

Sir Alec´s death has saddened me greatly. I bow my head in reverence to one of the greatest actors of the 20th century.
Patrick J. Greaney, Berlin, Germany

"The Bridge on the River Kwai" which was my first introduction to Sir Alec, "Lawrence of Arabia", "A Passage to India"... His brilliant performances have left a strong impression on my mind. Thank you Sir Alec for giving me wonderful moments of happiness.
Ota, Japan

Sir Alec Guinness was a very kind man. I owe him so much. He loved his acting and the day he passed on was the day we lost the best actor in the world. He will be sorely missed by both me, and anyone else who loves great acting.
Matthew Goddard, England, UK

I have always enjoyed Sir Alex's fine acting, and I (for one) enjoyed the fact that he make good science fiction legitimate. He will be missed.
Gerald W. West, U.S. of A


Sir Alec Guinness - a master of silence and understatement.

Doreen Jenkins, Wales
Sir Alec Guinness - a master of silence and understatement. In life, a true gentleman; on-stage/screen completely captivating and compelling. His quality of performance unsurpassed, and always a joy to witness. Enigmatic. RIP.
Doreen Jenkins, Wales

I adored Sir Alec as an actor, but it disturbs me that he was so rude to the fans of Obi-Wan Kenobe in Star Wars. If he did the part and took the large fortune it made him, how could he be so cold to the fans that wanted to thank him for his wonderful performance? It seems to me that he was very haughty and cold towards the fans that made him rich. He was also riveting as George Smiley in the John Le Carre TV series.
Carolyn Zaremba, USA


Sir Alec lived and worked in an era during which ars gratia artis was worthy of something more than lip service

Paul Meehan, USA
What a sad loss. I will remember most fondly his performance in "Tunes of Glory"; this 1960 production is probably the most under-estimated movie of all time (I didn't see it until three years ago), but it was Sir Alec who gave it life. Every performance he gave made the entire movie memorable.
And, as with Gielgud and Olivier, the loss of another Great Briton again causes me to reflect with disappointment on the trend away from acting - and scriptwriting for that matter - as an art. Sir Alec lived and worked in an era during which ars gratia artis was worthy of something more than lip service. (How many movie-goers today could explain the difference between "actor" and "movie star")?
Paul Meehan, USA

This man was an ACTOR, who would bring to life the person he was playing.
Robert Tisdale, Canada

It's very hard to choose a favourite, as Alec Guinness was an extremely talented actor. Diverse too. He will be remembered for the many brilliant Ealing comedies and the dramatic. The Bridge on the River Kwai, Star Wars, The Man in the White Suit, the Lavender hill Mob, the Lady Killers, shows range and depth. All different. All good.
Alana Pryce, Britain

His role in Last Holiday was my favourite - one of his many moving roles. Britain has produced a ton of great screen actors, but Alec Guinness was the finest of them all. Nevertheless, don't be too despondent, we still have Anthony Hopkins, Tim Roth, Ralph Fiennes, and countless others. Thanks to the inspiration of greats like Sir Alec, the river will never run dry.
Johnny Buckle, Japan

What a great loss for humanity. An actor and a great gentleman are gone. He was owned by the world, not only the Brits. His kind of actor is almost nonexistent nowadays. I pray for his soul.
Aydin, Istanbul, Turkey

I had the wonderful luck of meeting Mr. Guinness while he was filming Monsignor Quixote, in León, my hometown in Spain. It was in May, 1985 and I went to San Marcos hotel one night to visit him. I was a seventeen-year-old boy and he was extremely nice with me. He invited me to the making of the film and I have the greatest memories of him. I feel very sad of not meeting him again after that. I will never forget you.
Luis Lopez Varona, Spain


It wasn't until later when I watched movies such as "The Swan", and " Bridge over River Kwai" that I realised he was a veteran and a renowned actor

Sunny Chia Bart Por, Singapore
I first came to know Sir Alec when I watched Star Wars in 1977. He was then Obi Wan Kenobi, the wise old man who fought the forces of evil. I knew nothing else of him. It wasn't until later when I watched movies such as "The Swan", and " Bridge over River Kwai" that I realised he was a veteran and a renowned actor. I particularly like the movie "The Great Expectation." It was very well produced.
Sunny Chia Bart Por, Singapore

Now that Alec Guinness has died, he will "become more powerful than we can possible imagine".
Simon Gray, Scotland

PLEASE will the BBC issue a video of the wonderful Michael Parkinson interview with Sir Alec, which we were lucky enough to catch on TV the night the death was announced; it captured the many facets of Guinness as nothing else could.
Richard and Ann, UK


A true, English character actor, and a remarkably brilliant one

Katie Withers, England
I am only 16, and I discovered Sir Alec a couple of years ago in "The Swan". I immediately realised that I was watching one of the finest actors ever to grace our screens. He was principally an actor, he didn't want to be a star, and I am very proud to think that despite his undoubted talents, he worked mainly in Britain, and we didn't lose him to Hollywood. A true, English character actor, and a remarkably brilliant one. Sir Alec and his performances will still be remembered and loved, when the stars of today are forgotten. We haven't really lost him - he lives on in every performance he ever made. God bless you Alec now that you're entertaining God on some heavenly stage.
Katie Withers, England

6 billion people on this planet, but only one Sir Alec Guinness. Rest in peace sir, rest in peace.
Brett Miller, Canada

It is very difficult to say which role we liked best from "The Bridge over the River Kwai" to "Smiley's People" and all the many films in between. An actor you couldn't see too often.
Elke Haack, Germany

When I first came across the figure of "George Smiley" in the Le Carré novels, I immediately thought that Alec Guinness WAS George Smiley. Apparently, so did Le Carré himself. Guinness had this rare talent of impersonating a "persona" and of going straight to its essence at the same time: the hallmark of both great actors and great spies.
Chris Lucianu, Switzerland

To say that Sir Alec's death is a great personal loss to me and millions of others around the world is an understatement. Although he played many different film roles, there was a consistent thread that drew the audience to him. It was his humanity, vulnerability, and an "everyman" quality that showed through many roles. We were drawn to him by a talent that made every one of his film roles real to us. It was not Sir Alec playing a part on the screen, it was someone we knew, identified with, and cared for. Such actors so rare indeed.
Spero W. Theodore, USA

I remember as a young boy in Petersfield seeing Sir Alec at the railway station on Sunday mornings after church and thinking what a remarkable and anonymous person he was. He never came across as the big movie star. I have seen every movie he has made with the exception of Star Wars and consider him one of the greatest actors of all time. He appealed to my generation and to my son's. With his ability to portray the character and not Alec Guinness, whether it be in a comedy (The Lady Killers) or as a very bitter colonel (Tunes of Glory). We will sadly miss him.
Graham Standen, Canada

Olivier, Gielgud and Guinness - the three greatest actors of my lifetime. I consider Sir Alec's greatest role was in "Bridge over the River Kwai". We will never see acting greatness like his again.
John O'Byrne, Dublin, Ireland


Who can forget the beauty of the scene in Dr Zhivago where he talks of the gift of talent

Gawain Williams, Wales
Who can forget the beauty of the scene in Dr Zhivago where he talks of the gift of talent. He had that gift and was a great example of how to use it, rather than abuse it. A lot of people have said in these comments that there won't be another like him. I sincerely hope that the actors of today and people working in the industry take note of these comments, notice how people perceive the modern actor/filmmaker, and then maybe use the example of Sir Alec Guinness. Then maybe we can achieve the kind of integrity and high standards that make filmmaking worth it.
Gawain Williams, Wales

Sir Alec Guinness is the prototype of British gentleman. He was a combination of talent, kindness and intelligence. I hope he won't only be remembered as Obi Wan Kenobi. He deserves much more respect.
Aslý Onat, Turkey

As an actor, he was definitely the best. But, unlike most actors, he was also an extremely interesting person. I very much regret not having been able to meet him personally (although I tried). And last, I think it very unfair to make emphasis on his role as Obi Wan Kenobi. Unfortunately I could not see him on stage, but, when it comes to films, he was much greater in other roles, such as King Charles in Cromwell. Smiley or the colonel in the Bridge over the Kwai River (and all the Ealing films). I will always remember Alec Guinness!
Stella Raventos, Spain


He could make his audience feel the joy he had for acting, while still making his character(s) look believable and genuine

Alex V.M., USA
One of my personal favourites - and a true demonstration of his talent and versatility - is the EIGHT very different victims he played in "Kind Hearts and Coronets". Each character was distinct, and portrayed, in his inimitable style, with a subtle humour belying his love for acting. In all of his performances, he wasn't totally absorbed by his character, like, say, a Merryl Streep, nor did he mould the character to fit him, like Sir Lawrence Olivier often did (in HIS inimitable way). Guinness met his characters half - or part way - making them believable while still demonstrating his unique flair (I always noticed that subtle twinkle in his eye). He could make his audience feel the joy he had for acting, while still making his character(s) look believable and genuine.
Alex V.M., USA

Sir Alec inspired me to do many valuable things, it was after reading 'My Name Escapes me' that I ventured into the novels of Dickens and the works of John Ruskin. His books, apart from being hilarious and informative accounts of a distinguished acting career, also offer a cultural and historical education, and more importantly they offer an education in kindness and compassion. What a wonderful actor and human being - I can safely say that the world seemed a better place with Sir Alec in it. Goodnight and God bless Sir Alec, we shall never see the likes of you again.
Ann Catterall, Ireland

Unfortunately I first made the acquaintance of Sir Alec in Star Wars at the tender age of 6, not knowing or understanding his career before that film. Since then, I have come to know him very well through his films and it is to him I owe thanks, for he gave me a new direction to take my performance of Macbeth this past fall. Goodnight sweet Prince, the theatre marquis in London are dimmer now due to your loss.
Stephen, USA

"Lawrence of Arabia" and his work in it was one of the defining moments of my youth. Thank-you, Sir Guinness, for giving me a life full of the love for movies.
Jade She-Bear, USA

The silencing of his great voice - as an actor and a writer - moves me to tears. At the beginning of this summer I slowly read his final book - enjoying every word, every phrase. His reflections on acting, politics, and life in general were full of wit and charm. As an actor, he was a shape-shifter, giving his entire being to the role. His loss is a blow to the theatre; we have lost the classic representation of an entire era.
Melissa McMillian-Cunningham, USA


When he turned up for rehearsals on the first day, he surprised his colleagues by stammering

Peter Hannon, Germany
Other films of his have been justifiably praised, but what sticks in my mind is his portrayal of Charles I in the otherwise mediocre "Cromwell". When he turned up for rehearsals on the first day, he surprised his colleagues by stammering. None of them seemed to know that the King had a terrible stammer! This is but one example of Sir Alec's dedication to his job, namely his research into the character he played. I also heard he frightened his family by ranting and raging when he was practising for the part of Adolf Hitler! The man was simply brilliant and we shall not see his like again.
Peter Hannon, Germany

Who can ever forget those bulging eyes and insane smile as he asks the lady at the door in the "Ladykillers"; "I believe you have rooms to rent".
Mark Holley, UK

He was an incredibly strong and convincing actor - someone to look up to.
Uni Gislason, Norway

I remember being distinctly captivated by Guinness the actor back in the early 50's. There was a theatre in Gainesville which showed foreign films, among which were the Ealing comedies. My sister had been coerced into babysitting me but wanted to see the "Lavender Hill Mob" with her boyfriend. I was promised a box of Heath bars all to myself if I sat there and let them watch unimpeded. As things turned out, I was the one mesmerised, they ate all the Heaths and I became a hopeless Guinness fan at the tender age of 6. 48 years later it's hard to say goodbye.
Dolores Jenkins, USA

Sleep in peace, your memory will live on forever.
Andy Sinclair, South Africa

With his death, Britain has lost one of its 20th century cultural icons.
Carlos Rizik, Dominican Republic


The curtain rose to reveal Sir Alec and the other performers kneeling as if in prayer, their backs to us

Ron Oliver, USA
In 1977, while in London, I attended a performance of "Yahoo" in which Sir Alec brilliantly portrayed Jonathan Swift. At the end of the intermission, with the audience back in their seats, the curtain rose to reveal Sir Alec and the other performers kneeling as if in prayer, their backs to us. After a few moments, Sir Alec turned, looked directly at us, and in that marvellous voice of his, said; "I trust you have all alleviated the worst of your necessities!". The crowd roared with delight.
Ron Oliver, USA

A wonderful actor, Obi Wan will never be the same without him.
Budiwoman, Brunei

I took notice of Sir Alec Guinness in "Star Wars" and admired him instantly. He is one of the few English actors who attained international status without doing films from Hollywood. He is truly the one who kept the British cinema alive.
Janet, Philippines

Of all the films I have seen Sir Alec Guinness in, there is not a single one I didn't loved. It is sad to lose such a great actor; he always (even in comedy) brought class to the film. May you rest in peace Sir Alec and my deepest regret and sympathy to your family.
Kim, New Zealand

You only have to watch "Kind Hearts and Coronets" to realise the huge influence he had over another genius Peter Sellers. Britain has lost quite possibly its finest character actor.
Rik, Ireland

Sir Alec Guinness made it worthwhile for me to attend the cinema. It was wonderful to watch this great actor enter into each and every one of his roles with such tremendous intelligence and understanding.
Judith Natt, Israel


To lose Sir Alec was like losing a friend

Patrick Cooper, Ireland
To lose Sir Alec was like losing a friend. He was my inspiration as an aspiring actor. I shall never forget his finesse, his panache, his presence. As for his films, well, they can't take those away from me! God Bless, dear boy, you deserve the rest.
Patrick Cooper, Ireland

At the ceremony where he received Broadway's 1964 Best Actor "Tony" award for his amazing performance in the play "Dylan", Sir Alec approached Richard Burton (who had been nominated for Hamlet, but lost) and asked Burton if he wanted the award - an act of graciousness and humility from one so very deserving and talented. I am an acting teacher, and I always recommend all of Sir Alec's film performances - the often recognised ones as well as others like Disraeli in "The Mudlark", Gully Jimson in "The Horse's Mouth" and Jim Wormold in "Our Man in Havana". He never gave a bad performance.
Phil Boroff, USA

A great actor passed away but we always remember him as a good person and a talented man! Rest in Peace Sir Alec Guinness
Alicia, Peru

I agree with Tony White UK, old England is gradually fading away. Not only first class actors, but Richardson, Gielgud, Olivier and Sir Alec were first class gentlemen too. I will always remember Sir Alec for his role as Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations, written by another first class Englishman. It will take the new stars, such as Vinnie Jones, a long while to even walk in the same sun as these men.
John Underwood, English working in the USA

Simply, the greatest.
Dennis Richard, USA

After reading all these tributes, what can I say? I hope the Captain has now found his Paradise.
Michael F. Butchin, Taiwan


Sir Alec Guinness didn't have to speak. All he had to do was to see, to think, and give the phrase just with his eyes

Juan Carlos Fauvety, Argentina
Sir Alec Guinness didn't have to speak. All he had to do was to see, to think, and give the phrase just with his eyes. He could be the same actor he was on a silent screen. Alec Guinness is gone, but he was taken by that obscure galaxy of actors where somebody give them back to us as friends, our friends, and they are always alive. No matter the distance, the era of times, no matter from which world they are now. Good Bye, Alec and may be the force be with you.
Juan Carlos Fauvety, Argentina

I just want to say that his Character Obi Wan- Kenobi has been a great guidance in my life! I know he didn't like playing him in the Star Wars Films, which truly breaks my heart to hear that. The Jedi Force is with him always. His body is gone now, but his Blue Jedi Spirit will be with us all because he has now become ONE WITH THE FORCE! I Love you Ben, and thank you for being such a Magical and Spiritual teacher for me! I will always stay in the Light Side of life because of you and Yoda.
Taru Sterling, America

What a marvellous actor the world has lost. I have watched him over the years and we have lost just about the best. Thank you Sir Alec.
Don Roberts, New Zealand


Obi-Wan's character will live on forever in my mind

Anthony J. Saxon USA
I am truly saddened by the sudden passing of Sir Alec Guinness the man who portrayed Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi in the Star Wars films. As a Star Wars fanatic for 23 years I find that it is amazing that we've only lost 2 major actors who starred in the films (Peter Cushing and now regretfully Sir Alec Guinness) but in my mind Obi-Wan's character will live on forever in my mind. I would like to send my sincere condolences to the Guinness family and all of the grieving fans at this time. Goodbye Alec the world will miss you.
Anthony J. Saxon USA

Sir Alec Guinness was my favourite actor of all time, beginning with his earliest films. I am sad, but oh so happy to have been lucky enough to have seen him perform. My best wishes go his family and friends.
John Kafkaloff, United States

You - your faith and your talent, in particular - will be missed.
Lee Eskey, USA

Sir Alec Guinness was one of my favourite actors. I still watch his old movies over and over again. There will not be any actor that can take his pace. Mr. Guinness was able to take on a variety of roles that no other actor can do. He will be greatly missed.
Patricia Witzki, USA

Sir Alec will always be remembered as the personification of the British gentleman with a delightful sense of humour. I first saw him in art theatre films, The Man in the White Suite and The Lavender Hill Mob. From those films on through the 50's and 60's to his last, I made a point to see his roles, even if the film was bad, which they never were. If Sir Alec was in it - it had to be excellent.
James Martin, USA


As understated off-screen as on

Brian Paul Bach, USA
I once had the unexpected pleasure of sitting near Sir Alec's table in a small cafe in St Ives, Cornwall. He was there for a small role in the film "Raise the Titanic". This was when the identity of the actor who played Darth Vader was still a mystery, and one of the first questions he was asked at table was, "Really, Sir Alec, who played Darth Vader?" As understated off-screen as on, the great man gave his unique smile and uttered, "The doorman at the Savoy Hotel", and that was the end of the inquiry.
Brian Paul Bach, USA

A terrible lost - he was a fine gentleman and a great actor. May the force be with you for ever, Sir Alec.
Ignacio Palma, Chile

Without him there wouldn't have been a Peter Sellers.
Chris Badley, UK


I once had the great pleasure to hear a delightful story about Sir Alec told to me and other dinner companions by Vincent Price

Chloe Watson, USA
I once had the great pleasure to hear a delightful story about Sir Alec told to me and other dinner companions by Vincent Price. Sir Alec had spoken with Mr Price about a film he was asked to take a role in. Sir Alec told Mr Price he had been approached to do a film with a very young filmmaker and to reduce his normal fee to do the role. Mr Price and Sir Alec discussed the issue at some length and Mr Price said he suggested that Alec go ahead and do the film at the reduced fee, but ask for a percentage of the profits. That way, no one would lose, particularly Sir Alec's reputation. In the end, according to Mr Price that is what Sir Alec did, and the movie was "Star Wars". I paraphrase greatly, but it was a wonderful story and a jolly good chuckle.
Chloe Watson, USA

What a great loss! He was a workingman's actor. Somebody, that you could easily relate to. I saw him in a pub near Kew Bridge once, I think he lived nearby, and I said hello. He was almost embarrassed that I recognised him.
Dave Loader, USA

I worked at the Royal Court Theatre in the Sixties and saw Sir Alec perform "Exit The King" night after night. He was marvellous, except on the last night when his timing was out and he was relieved to be finishing. Did anyone else see the performance?
Maggie Gray, Britain

I'll miss this magic actor: the "Quiet Man" in a volatile industry. Such a talent! My memories of him centre on his Ealing comedies but his talents extended far beyond those gems. Thanks for the memories Sir Alec. My condolences to his widow and son.
Pete, Australia

I gasped when I read the news of Sir Alec's death. He, like many of his acting generation was knighted in recognition for his contribution to the arts but for many of us he was a King of his art. I still cannot believe it - it's so very, very sad.
Debbie Mitchell-Lewis, Dubai, UAE


All my life I have recounted the stories told to me by my father who was Alec Guinness's dresser in the late forties and early fifties

Gordon Pullar, UK
All my life I have recounted the stories told to me by my father who was Alec Guinness's dresser in the late forties and early fifties. He said he was a man who cared. A kind man - he will be missed.
Gordon Pullar, UK

He will always be Obi-Wan Kenobi to me. I know he wouldn't like to hear this but it's thanks to "Star Wars" he was known to the youth. Rest in Peace Sir Alec Guinness.
Willems Jacky, Belgium

He was so good; they named a drink after him!
Simon Millard, UK

I notice in his obituary that he also had a distinguished military career. No wonder his acting career was such an example to me in providing a role model but the part that is most significant is:

Asked what motivated him, Guinness once said: "It's practically all due to lack of food and plenty of disappointments - they can be real incentives". That is something I am enduring myself so I feel he is even more of a role model than I thought. A truly great man in every respect.
Martyn Thomas, GB/ USA

Even though I am a member of the younger generation, my favourite film of Sir Alec's was the little known "Malta Story", a love story between a British pilot and a Maltese girl during the Second World War. He was the archetypal "English gentleman" and will be remembered as such.
Fiorella , England/ Malta

I'm only 13, yet from the movies I have seen Sir Alec appear in, I knew he was one of the true great actors of his generation. R.I.P
Greg McEwen, Scotland

Alec, the force will always be with you.
Marcus, Sweden


After enjoying his early film roles, my wife and I had the opportunity to see his stage role at the Royal Court in Liverpool

Keith Homan, USA
After enjoying his early film roles, my wife and I had the opportunity to see his stage role at the Royal Court in Liverpool. The play was Terence Rattigan's "Ross". His performance was spellbinding and was the ultimate theatrical experience. We will remember him for ever.
Keith Homan, USA

"The Lady Killers" says it all
Mo, UK

I was first introduced to Sir Alec in "Star Wars" when I was five. I found him a fascinating person based on his interpretation of Obi-Wan Kenobi. I know that Sir Alec despised what the movie eventually became. For me, "Star Wars" was a wonderful introduction to him as an actor. My father, a great fan of the Ealing Comedies, would lure me to the TV on many a Saturday night to watch a movie starring "Obi-Wan Kenobi." I greatly enjoyed the versatility and distinct style he presented to each character. Now, as a 28-year-old, I am so sad that Sir Alec is gone. We have lost probably the best actor of England. Thank you, Sir Alec, for your performances and being a bridge between my father and me.
Ellen C. Gavaghan, USA

A consummate actor. His astonishing career will be looked upon as a standard in stage and screen for generations to come. Thankfully, he has left us his recently published diaries, which give us a hint at the depth of the man behind the actor. The world is a lesser place for his absence.
Bob Schutte, USA

As a kid growing up in Australia, Saturday afternoon at the pictures introduced me to the genius of Sir Alec.
Peter J McKimmin, Ph.D, USA

Sir Alec was probably the most versatile actor of his time. He was most inflexible and frustrating in his Oscar-winning role as the Colonel in the "Bridge on the River Kwai" ; he was most powerfully strong in a quiet manner in "Star Wars"; he was most vicious in one of his last films "Mute Witness". We'll miss his ability to "soak" himself into every role he played, making it look effortless. Goodbye, Sir Alec!
Raphael Lim, Singapore

Another great light has gone out here on earth, only to shine brighter in the sky. I consider myself lucky to have lived in an age when these great actors graced us with their ability and talents. I wonder if my children will be able to say the same. Thank you Sir Alec for filling my life with the wonder and joy of great stories brought to life through your gift.
Lisa Williams, Germany

I am too young to have been familiar with a large part of his career, but I knew a great actor when I saw it. He will be missed.
Michael Bradford, United States


His performance in 'Raise the Titanic' brought a fleeting glimmer of sunshine to what was a rather average film

Neil, North Wales
I have undoubtedly seen many of Alec's films, the names of most I cannot remember. The two that do stick out though are 'The Man in the White Suit' which I thought was superb and also his performance in 'Raise the Titanic' brought a fleeting glimmer of sunshine to what was a rather average film. He will be sorely missed.
Neil, North Wales

I saw Sir Alec in a Passage to India, and I was instantly hooked. A great actor and a terrific person. So sad to see such a great legend pass away quietly.
Balasubramanyam, India

Don't forget his wonderful recordings of T.S. Eliot's poetry.
Don Cox, UK


May the Force be with you.

Simon Butler, UK
I do not particularly care much for movies or theatre but the honourable gentleman most certainly portrayed quite a classical figure. He lent sophistication to a movie industry which is corrupted by Hollywood movie magnates who pander to baser human instincts. Sir Guinness was the last of the best.
Tahir Nawab, USA

My childhood was filled with the David Lean films and the unforgettable acting of Sir Alec. One of the greatest actors of our times.
Dhruba Ghosh, India

Irreplaceable. Tragic that most people shall only remember him for his role in Star Wars.
Greg McEwen, Scotland


Sir Alec assumed a large role in my childhood and can be "blamed" for making me a hopeless Anglophile

Peter C. Kohler, USA
Sir Alec assumed a large role in my childhood and can be "blamed" for making me a hopeless Anglophile. In the early 1960s there was a cinema in Washington, D.C. that showed nothing but British films and I grew up with those delightful Ealing Studio films when most American boys were watching Disney treacle. My favourite Guinness film is The Last Holiday, a typically bittersweet story of a clerk who, after he told is dying, spends his meagre savings at a posh hotel. It was one of those quirky little films that only the British could make and only Sir Alec could sink his teeth into. How much he will be missed by so many.
Peter C. Kohler, USA

Even more so than with the other "greats" - Olivier, Richardson and Gielgud - when watching Alec Guinness I would forget that I was watching an actor and become simply absorbed in the character. To me, he was the greatest of them all.
David K, England

Sir Alec Guinness is a name that first caught my eye when I was 10 years old, in Kind Hearts and Coronets. Since then he has remained the only actor whose work I will actively seek. He showed the true English Gentleman, the master villain, and the genius. Yet in my mind, his greatest role was as a retard, alongside Leo McKern, in the BBC's "A Foreign Field". There is a corner of a foreign field that is forever England. Sir Alec, it is where we will think of you.
John Lester, Reading, England

While not a great film, who else could have played Marcus Aurelius in Fall of the Roman Empire? As much as I like him, compare the style of Richard Harris in this role in the recent Gladiator with Sir Alec Guinness in Fall of the Roman Empire. He brought the philosopher king to life for me.
Rich, USA


Sir Alec was the greatest actor of the twentieth century

Peter, United Kingdom
Sir Alec was the greatest actor of the twentieth century who will I feel be best remembered for his performances in Cromwell as King Charles I as well as Star Wars. I was fortunate enough to receive an autograph from him prior to his passing away, which said " Sorry I keep no signed photographs as too expensive to hand out". Alec Guinness. None the less a delightful British actor who will be greatly missed!!
Peter, United Kingdom

I still get a thrill watching Kind Hearts and Coronets, as my Gran would have said, they broke the mould when God made that Man.
Ann Taylor, Scotland

The first time I saw Sir Alec on screen was in the movie he most hated! Twenty-five years later and I'm still in awe of the man and everything he's done before and since. My only regret is that I never met him in person. A credit to himself, he will be missed. May the force be with you Sir Alec!
Paul Crocombe, UK


Sir Alec's quiet modesty was an education in itself

Trevor Hunt, UK
I think that Sir Alec will be remembered as perhaps the finest screen actor Britain ever produced. His versatility was unparalleled, equally resonant in sharp comic roles and detailed character studies. Cinemagoers were awed by his Fagin, loved his Stratton (Man In The White Suit) and Holland (Lavender Hill Mob), and were full of admiration for his Oscar-winning Nicholson. But perhaps best of all, and far less well-remembered, was his moving portrayal of the blustering Jock, the kilted martinet, in "Tunes Of Glory". He and Charles Laughton will forever be the two giants of British screen acting, and Sir Alec's quiet modesty was an education in itself.
Trevor Hunt, UK

A perfect gentleman! I wonder how many of today's actors will be held with the same regard when they die? Sir Alec will always be one of my all time favourites and I shall miss him.
Jan Cordani, USA

Truly the greatest character actor of the modern age. So many 'great' actors only ever really play themselves but Sir Alec genuinely was a man of many parts.
Frank Wells, UK

Although I am under 30, I think my generation find the Ealing films great. I personally enjoy the Lady Killers and the Lavender Hill Mob - superb British films, starring a superb British actor.
Nick Francis, UK


Sir Alec Guinness was without a doubt one of the best actors of the 20th Century

Stefán, Iceland
What a terrible loss!! Sir Alec Guinness was without a doubt one of the best actors of the 20th Century. His appearances in movies like Kind Hearts and Coronets, Star Wars, Lavender Hill Mob, The Man in the White Suit, A Passage to India and his Academy Award winning role in The Bridge on the River Kwai will make him one of the best actors of the century.
He was one of a kind and will be remembered by our generation and those to come for his unforgettable career. He will live with us forever, his movies will make him a eternal movie-legend.
Stefán, Iceland

The world's finest actor. He will be missed.
Guenther Koegebehn, Germany

A sad day. The world has lost another giant of the English acting world. Who can replace Guinness, Olivier, Gielgud, Richardson? Sometimes it seems we live in an age of pygmies or only semi-giants in the acting world. There will never be such a time again as when we saw, laughed with, cried with, and listened to such a giant as Sir Alec Guinness.
Theodore Taba, United States


Who would not want to buy him another drink in the hotel at the end of the Lavender Hill Mob Movie?

Mark W Rhodes, USA
What a sad loss, Who can ever forget the youthful Alec Guinness bounding up the stairs in Dickens' Great Expectations, and the so British and so stubborn officer in the Bridge Over the River Kwai. Who would not want to buy him another drink in the hotel at the end of the Lavender Hill Mob Movie?
His adaption and of Fagin and the friendly Indian in Passage to India¿and then in Star Wars, Wan Kenobi, an eternal being, but of course George Smiley will live forever. Sir Alec was a great actor. But he has left us much, his work is a piece of our time for all future generations to see.
Mark W Rhodes, USA

Only yesterday I watched David Lean's Oliver Twist for the first time. Sir Alec's performance was incredible, far removed from his role in Great Expectations. His passing is very sad news indeed. He was, simply put, a Quality Actor.
Philip Gottschalk, England

Goodbye Obi-Wan Kenobi. A fine man, a great actor and already very much missed!
Tony, Watford, UK


His genius lay in the purity and honesty of his acting which was entirely unhindered by ego

Kathleen Riley, Australia
"Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!" Sir Alec was the most unique actor of his generation and his death is a profoundly sad loss. His genius lay in the purity and honesty of his acting which was entirely unhindered by ego.
Kathleen Riley, Australia

My favourite was the pipe-major promoted from the ranks in 'Tunes of Glory' - the best film about the British Army ever made and a wonderful evocation of the traditions of the Highland Regiments. Sir Alec's sympathy and understanding of the part was incredible.
Jason Chess, UK

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. A brilliant performance. Lets hope the beeb will show this again soon.
Henry, UK


You'd like to have him as a tutor for life

Sergey, Russia
I think that he was probably the most intelligent actor in UK. You can feel it watching his eyes. There was something in them that showed wisdom and compassion. You'd like to have him as a tutor for life.
The best are Tinker, Taylor, soldier, Spy, Smiley's People
Bridge...
Sergey, Russia

Sir Alec made Star Wars what it is today... nobody will ever forget his performance as Obi Wan Kenobi. May the Force be with you, Alec!
Ben Turner, Belgium

I never saw him on the stage, but greatly enjoyed his performance as Smiley in the TV adaptations of John Le Carre's spy novels. I seem to remember his saying once that he could tell a lot about someone from their feet... A great loss
Ian Hughes, UK


The Ealing comedies, and his performances in them, are a national treasure

Will Smith, UK
The undisputed genius of British theatre and cinema. The Ealing comedies, and his performances in them, are a national treasure. A Master who appeared to shun the degrading trappings of fame. A true inspiration. God Bless.
Will Smith, UK

Sadly, the old England is gradually fading away. Sir Alec epitomised in his demeanour and his roles everything we took for granted. As for his films, I shall always remember Kind Hearts and Coronets - truly a genius at work. Genuine and a gentleman, England will not be the same without you Sir Alec. May God grant you rest on your Heavenly veranda.
Tony White, UK


His passing is like losing one of those rare and wonderful neighbourhood characters you see only occasionally but whose very existence enriches your sense of life

John Chuckman, USA
Perhaps the most wonderful quality of Sir Alec Guinness's acting was his remarkable ability to use silence to great effect. His work in the wonderful Ealing comedies such as "The Ladykillers" or "Kind Hearts and Coronets" is unforgettable.
But this magnificent actor never lived off his past credits. He was always capable of something new and wonderful. The greatest example of this is his creation of John LeCarre's Smiley for the screen. I think I would nominate this as the finest of all his fine work. His passing is like losing one of those rare and wonderful neighbourhood characters you see only occasionally but whose very existence enriches your sense of life.
John Chuckman, USA

Although I am part of the younger generation who best knew Sir Alec for his part in Star Wars, I will remember him for brilliant performances like Bridge Over the River Kwai which I watched on Sunday afternoons with my father. My father used to tell me that 'they didn't make them like that any more'. Quite.
Daniel Stephens, England

I'm in my mid-twenties and like virtually everyone else of my generation Alec Guinness will forever be known as Obi-Wan Kenobi first. However, his finest moment for me has to be as Professor Marcus in the Ladykillers, closely followed by the D'asgoyne family in Kind Hearts & Coronets (and there is dangerous talk of remaking KH&C with Robin Williams in the Guinness roles - sacrilege!).
Neil Halliday, United Kingdom

Sir Alec was loved and respected here. Memories of his performances in such films as Bridge Over the River Kwai, Lavender Hill Mob, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Dr. Zhivago and Star Wars have left an indelible impression on the minds of American moviegoers and on their hearts as well. All film lovers feel the loss keenly.
Brian J. Murphy, United States


It shouldn't be forgotten that Sir Alec was also a fine writer

Scott Pack, England
It shouldn't be forgotten that Sir Alec was also a fine writer. His volumes of diaries and memoirs are some of the finest written and contain some of the most moving passages I have ever read.
I was so impressed by his book My Name Escapes Me that I wrote to him to thank him for such a wonderful read making it very clear that I wanted no reply as the book mentioned how much he hated replying to fan mail. However, two days later a handwritten card arrived from Sir Alec - something I have always cherished and will cherish all the more from this day on.
Scott Pack, England

One by one, the brightest lights of British film and television are going out. I fear we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.
Jamie, London, UK

Sir Alec, may the theatre of heaven be your finest stage.
Barry Balkwell, USA

As a huge Star Wars fan I am much saddened by this loss. He might not have liked his Star Wars role but I loved it. I would wish to thank him for doing it.
Jonathan Harvey, England

We won't see his like again. My sincere condolences to his family, especially his wife.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK


Sir Alec's genius lay in his ability to 'become' any character he played

Pete Ricketts, England
Sir Alec's genius lay in his ability to 'become' any character he played. From one role to the next - the sinister Fagin in Oliver Twist, the exuberant Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations, the buck-toothed villain in The Ladykillers, the fiery Scottish sergeant in Tunes of Glory, and of course Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars - he was practically unrecognisable as the same person.
For sheer versatility and range, not even Olivier, Gielgud or Richardson could match his ability. He was my all-time favourite actor and I am greatly saddened by this news.
Pete Ricketts, England

Living fairly close, I decided earlier this year to write a letter to him to congratulate him on his achievements. I took the liberty of asking him what he enjoyed doing in his spare moments.
I received my letter back with "Sorry - I haven't the time" which although disappointed me at first, I now understand. This man was loved by millions and his whole life could have easily been taken up writing to fans!! He will be missed.
Tony, UK

Here is a quote I shall always remember him for: "You don't need to see my Identification!"
Simon, England


I don't think he realised how many of his fans appreciated his other roles and realised his portfolio was greater than Obi-Wan

Murray, England
I think Star Wars was a double-edged sword for Sir Alec. Although it provided his financial security it betrayed everything he believed in about acting. Perhaps he felt a certain amount of guilt for "dumbing down" but I don't think he realised how many of his fans appreciated his other roles and realised his portfolio was greater than Obi-Wan.
Murray, England

What a terrible loss to British Cinema - My enduring image of Sir Alec is the hilarious scene in The Ladykillers (one of his greatest roles) when he tries to justify his thieving ways to Mrs Wilberforce - it had me in tears. A true Everyman actor the likes of which we will never see again....
Asif Khan, UK

What always impressed me about Sir Alec Guiness' performances was that you saw the character he portrayed, more than you saw him, the person. A magnificent actor. We'll miss him.
Bob Yelavich, USA

I was extremely sad to learn of the passing of Sir Alec Guinness. To me he was always George Smiley. I learned a few years ago that John le Carre had Sir Alec in mind when he wrote the Smiley novels and one of the later books was dedicated to him. A great honour to a great man.
S. Burslem, Thailand

A gentleman with the diversity of a chameleon.
Phillip Scott, Australia

The greatest British film actor ever? Only Sir Alec would disagree.
Alan McEwen, Scotland

Watching Sir Alec Guiness has given me many hours of pleasure. He is one of the "greats" and completely irreplaceable.
Paula Lawrence, United Kingdom

I met Sir Alec some years ago outside a theatre where he was performing. I was in awe of the great man and gained enough courage to ask for an autograph. He was most surprised that I should want it and graciously spent some time talking to me about the production and asking about myself. I have never met such a modest, interesting or humorous man and shall miss him, as shall everyone whose lives he touched.
Karen Wiles, UK

He will be missed by everyone who loves theatre, whether filmed or live. I'm so sorry for his family. He was a spell-binding performer whom I've loved most of my life and I took great care to learn from each of his films I saw. His mastery of stage-craft was awe-inspiring. While "Lawrence of Arabia" is my all-time favourite film, I cannot forget "Great Expectations", "Oliver Twist", "Bridge On The River Kwai" and "Tunes of Glory."
K D Simpson, USA

A consummate actor whose gentle portrayal of all human nature will be sadly missed both in the theatre and on film.
Sue Bramley, United Kingdom

For me, Sir Alec Guinness was never better than when he played the criminally insane Professor Marcus. I'm sure that for many people he will be most fondly remembered for those great, early Ealing comedies.
James, UK

He leaves a role, that as with so many of the greats that have gone before him, a role that will never be filled again.
William Rivenberg, UK

I live in a neighbouring village to Steep Marsh and literally bumped into Sir Alec briefly on Petersfield Railway station a few years ago. Although it was wholly my fault for not looking where I was going, he apologised profusely and smiled very kindly at me. I've never forgotten that. A consummate actor and a gentleman.
Sassy, UK

Great moments of pure pleasure and happiness were given by Sir Alec. What a gift to the world!
Prof. MN Rudrabasavaraj, India and Singapore

Genius!
Robin Hull, United Kingdom

It's a shame that many the majority of people my age (26) and younger will only remember him for Stars Wars - a part he never particularly valued.
James Perrin, UK

As I'm 23 I like many others remember Alec for his part in Star Wars. Given the credibility and range he bought to this small but important part, I'm sure many of his other films are a much better showcase of his talents. I hope he is also remembered for these.
Paul McCleary, United Kingdom

To read Alec Guinness's two recent diaries, "My Name Escapes Me" and "A Positively Final Appearance" is to get to know a quiet, nature-loving man, full of curmudgeonly good humour and a rare talent for sincere reflection. An admirable man, he will be sorely missed.
Olly Smith, UK

He enriched millions of lives
Jack, Australia

Another pillar of the English cinema has gone. Will there ever be another great actor like Alec? I very much doubt it. The days when actors were judged by their performances and not by the clothes they wear at premieres are long gone.
Alex, UK

What is there to say? A great man, one who was liked and respected by generations of film buffs and critics. A very English Englishman, and a man who even managed to be a British-accented hero in Hollywood. One of our last great acting stars has gone, and we will sorely miss him. Rest in Peace, Sir Alec.
Steve Upton, England

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07 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Sir Alec Guinness dies
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