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David Warner, RSC Honorary Associate Artist, has died aged 80



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David Warner, RSC Honorary Associate Artist, has died aged 80.

His family confirm today (Monday) that he died from“a cancer-related illness” and that his family confirmed the news “with an overwhelmingly heavy heart”.

David Warner as Hamlet contemplates Yorick's skull in 1965
David Warner as Hamlet contemplates Yorick's skull in 1965

In a statement to the BBC, Warner’s family said: “Over the past 18 months he approached his diagnosis with a characteristic grace and dignity … He will be missed hugely by us, his family and friends, and remembered as a kind-hearted, generous and compassionate man, partner and father, whose legacy of extraordinary work has touched the lives of so many over the years. We are heartbroken.”

Henry IV Part 1 - David Warner as Falstaff at the RSC in 2007
Henry IV Part 1 - David Warner as Falstaff at the RSC in 2007

Well known for his roles in films such The Omen, The Man With Two Brains, Straw Dogs and Time Bandits, Warner came to the RSC shortly after graduating from RADA aged 21. In 1965 he played Hamlet to great critical acclaim.

His last role at the RSC was in 2007, playing Falstaff in Michael Boyd’s Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2.

Reflecting upon Warner’s extraordinary career, Gregory Doran, artistic director emeritus, said:

“In 1963, David was part of the legendary Wars of the Roses cycle, directed by Peter Hall, in John Barton’s adaptation, playing King Henry VI. When the second history tetralogy was added the following year to celebrate the Shakespeare tercentenary, David played Richard II, and delightfully, in the spirit of ensemble, Mouldy, one of the Gloucestershire recruits, in Henry IV Part Two.

“David’s most iconic role for the RSC was as Hamlet in 1965, directed again by Peter Hall, with Glenda Jackson as Ophelia, and Elizabeth Spriggs as Gertrude, with Brewster Mason as Claudius and the Ghost. A tortured student, in his long orange scarf, David seemed the epitome of 1960’s youth, and caught the radical spirit of a turbulent age.

“In Peter Hall’s 1969 film of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, David played Lysander, alongside Helen Mirren as Hermia, Diana Rigg as Helena, and Michael Jayston as Demetrius.

“After a varied career in film and TV, David returned to the company in 2007 to be part of Michael Boyd’s Histories, playing Sir John Falstaff. He was a generous spirit, a kind man, and a huge talent.”

See Thursday's Herald for full tribute and photos to David Warner.



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