Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Britain will always be a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to that old, quitessentially English film actor, Michael York"

Michael, who is now a American citizen and lives in California, is 71 today and apparently has multiple myeloma, a type of cancer of the blood the treatment for which includes large doses of steroids, the side effects of which include hair thinning and generalized swelling. I refrain from publishing a photo of Michael as he is now and prefer to reflect on all those performances we enjoyed in which his looks, manner and voice added an elegant and quintessentially English persona to our screens.

I remember seeing him in 'Cabaret' in 1972, when I was 25 and he was 30, playing the bisexual Brian Roberts opposite Liza Minnelli, in a character who was a fictionalised version of the writer Christopher Isherwood whose novel, 'Goodbye the Berlin'  provided much source material for the film.

What you possible didn't know about Michael, that he :

* was  born in Fulmer, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, his mother a musician and father a Welsh ex Royal Artillery Army Officer who became an executive for Marks and Spencer department stores.

* was brought up in Burgess Hill, Sussex and as a teenager, educated at Bromley Grammar School for Boys, started his stage career at the age of 14 in 'The Yellow Jacket' and had a small part in 'Hamlet' in the West End at the age of 17 and studied at Hurstpierpoint College, Sussex and at University College Oxford.
* prior to graduating with a degree in English in 1964, toured with the National Youth Theatre also performing with the Oxford University Dramtic Society and the University College Players and then joined the National Theatre under Laurence Olvier where he worked with Franco Zeffirelli at the age of 23 in 1965.

* followed his role on British TV as 'Jolyon' in 'The Forsyte Saga' in 1967, then made his film debut as Lucentio in Zeffielli's 'Taming of the Shrew' and Tybalt (right) in Zeffirelli's 1968 film adaptation of 'Romeo and Juliet'.

* starred in an early Merchant Ivory Productions film, 'The Guru' in 1969
and then an amoral bisexual drifter in Harold Prince's film 'Something for Everyone' in 1970 opposite Angela Lansbury as the Countess who hires him as her footman.

* reunited with Zeffirelli as a fiery John the Baptist in 'Jesus of Nazareth' and D'Artagnan in the in the 1973 adaptation of 'The Three Musketeers'
and made his Broadway debut in the original production of Tennessee Williams, 'Out Cry', then appeared in the 'The Four Musketeers' .
and in 1976 at the age of 34 the title character in 'Logan's Run'
and then starred with Burt Lancaster in 'The Island of Dr. Moreau'.

* starred on Broadway with 'Bent' in 1980, 'The Crucible'  in 1992 and 'Someone Who'll Watch Over Me' in 1993 and the ill-fated musical 'The Little Price anf the Aviator' in 1982 which closed during previews.

So Michael, old men of Britain say : "Thanks for brightening our lives with you bright smile over so many years".

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