Hawthorne, Sir Nigel Barnard


Hawthorne, Sir Nigel Barnard
▪ 2002

      British actor (b. April 5, 1929, Coventry, Eng.—d. Dec. 26, 2001, Baldock, Hertfordshire, Eng.), displayed his versatility in roles both comic and classic during a half-century-long career that saw him gain his first real fame only after some 30 years in the profession, when he was in his 50s and costarred as the quintessential civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby in the satiric BBC series Yes, Minister (1980–83, 1985–86) and its sequel, Yes, Prime Minister (1986–87), a role that won him four British Academy Television Awards (BAFTAs). His reputation grew even more with his Oscar-nominated role as the title character in The Madness of King George (1994). Hawthorne made his professional stage debut in 1950 in The Shop at Sly Corner. The following year he moved to England and, although he appeared on the London stage in You Can't Take It with You in 1951, he had little other success and moved back to South Africa. There Hawthorne performed a number of leading roles, and in 1961 he toured in Beyond the Fringe. Upon returning to London in 1962, he made his West End debut in Talking to You, and besides touring as Field Marshal Haig in Oh! What a Lovely War, played Major Flack in Privates on Parade (1977). That role led to his being cast in Yes, Minister. Hawthorne went on to stage triumphs in Shadowlands in London (1989) and on Broadway (1990), where he won a Tony Award, and then The Madness of George III (1991) in London, for which he won an Olivier Award. The lead role in the film adaptation of the latter followed. Hawthorne was created CBE in 1987 and was knighted in 1999. Also in 1999 came his final stage role, the title character in the Royal Shakespeare Company's King Lear. Although Hawthorne had been undergoing treatment for cancer for some 18 months, he died of a heart attack in the home he shared with his longtime partner, screenwriter Trevor Bentham.

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▪ British actor
born April 5, 1929, Coventry, West Midlands, Eng.
died Dec. 26, 2001, Baldock, Hertfordshire

      British actor, perhaps best known for his portrayal of the cunning, manipulative civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby in the British television series Yes, Minister (1980–83, 1985–86) and Yes, Prime Minister (1986–87).

      When Hawthorne was four years old, his family moved to Cape Town, S.Af. There he had a lonely childhood and was often at odds with his domineering father, who dissuaded him from pursuing a career in acting. Hawthorne attended the University of Cape Town, and, despite his father's opposition, he made his professional stage debut in a 1950 production of The Shop at Sly Corner. The following year he moved to England and appeared on the London stage in You Can't Take It with You. He had little other success, however, and soon moved back to South Africa, where he performed a number of leading roles. In 1961 he toured in Beyond the Fringe, and the next year he returned to London, where he made his West End debut in Talking to You, and toured as Field Marshal Haig in Oh! What a Lovely War.

      In 1977 Hawthorne played Major Flack in the play Privates on Parade, which led to his being cast as Sir Humphrey Appleby, the quintessential civil servant, in the satiric BBC series Yes, Minister and its sequel, Yes, Prime Minister. Hawthorne had been acting for some 30 years before taking the role, which brought him his first real fame as well as four British Academy Television Awards (TV BAFTAs). He went on to stage triumphs in Shadowlands in London (1989) and on Broadway (1990), where he won a Tony Award. He starred in the title role of The Madness of George III (1991) in London, for which he won an Olivier Award. He later starred in the film adaptation, The Madness of King George (1994), and received an Academy Award nomination for the role. Hawthorne was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1987 and was knighted in 1999. Also in 1999 came his final stage role, the title character in the Royal Shakespeare Company's King Lear. His autobiography, Straight Face, was published posthumously in 2002.

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Universalium. 2010.

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