Bob, who brought his tough presence to his films, had a tough London upbringing, received only limited education and he left school at the age of 15, but with a passion for language and literature instilled by his English teacher, is 71 years old today.
What you possible didn't know about Bob, that he :
* was born outside London in 1942 in the thiird year of the Second World War in Bury St Edmunds, Suffok, the son of Elsie, a cook and Robert, a clerk and communist sympathiser and then from two weeks of age was brought up in Finsbury Park, London.
* reminded me of my own youth in Deptford, London, when he said : "Our flat was tiny. I had a put-you-up in the front room. We had a bath in the kitchen. The point is you didn't really know anything else; that's how life was. I looked around and all my mates were the same. It was a very skint area."
* after leaving school at the age of 15, was a market porter in Covent Garden (left) and, as he said at the age of 25 in 1967, "trained to be an accountant and thought this is not for me, so I bummed around. I worked on a kibbutz in Israel and travelled the world".
* said of his youth : "There was a lot of crime, of course, in the Forties and Fifties - robberies, old people getting mugged. There were gangs around Finsbury Park (right) and Haringey. They had knives and coshes and sticks. It was quite violent and it didn't take a lot to get into a fight. You just had to look the wrong way. We were all thugs. If I wasn't an actor I'd probably have been a serial killer or a burglar - something like that".
* started acting 'by chance' in the late 1960s in his mid-twenties, when a friend, an aspiring actor, took him along to an audition after which as he was given the lead and said : "The first night an agent came to see it and he said, "Look, you've got to take this up professionally." So I said, "Get us a job and I will." "
* said : "I became a professional actor overnight and then I thought, I've got to learn to do this, because people are paying to see me. So I read the experts. I read Stanislavski and that seemed obvious; I read Lee Strasberg and that seemed like looking busy to impress everyone. And I found out that men are completely emotionally crippled - we can't express ourselves - so I started watching women. I became an actor by becoming a stalker."
* had his first major tv role was in 'On the Move' at the age of 34 in 1976, an educational series intended to tackle adult illiteracy, in which he played Alf, a removal man who had problems reading and writing.
* in the same year, came to wider attention in the original BBC version of Dennis Potter's drama Pennies from Heaven as philandering 1930s sheet music salesman, Arthur Parker, who escapes from his dull life by fantasizing elaborately choreographed musical numbers in which he and the other characters lip-sync to original recording of popular 1930s music.
* played a convincing and menacing London gangster in 'The Long Good Friday' in 1980 and delivered a wordless screen masterpiece when he is picked up and taken to his execution by a IRA gunman, played by Pierce Brosnan in his first screen role.
* in 'Mona Lisa' in 1986, won the wider approval of the critics and a 'Cannes Award', 'Best Actor Golden Globe' and 'BAFTA Award' and an 'Academy Award' nomination for Best Actor.
* in 1988 played Eddie Valiant, who investigates a murder involving the famous cartoon character, 'Roger Rabbit'. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAnNvnViJpo
* in August 2012, announced his retirement from acting due to his ongoing battle with Parkinson's disease.
* kept his cockney wit and self-deprecating humour and once said : "I'm just a short fat bald guy who got lucky. Where's the glamour?"