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Ian Bannen 1928-1999

Country : Airdrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Profession : Actor
Date of birth : 1928-06-28
Date of death : 1999-11-03
Cause of Death : Car crash

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Early life and career

Born in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, he was the son of a lawyer. Bannen served in the army and attended Ratcliffe College, Leicestershire. His first acting role came in a 1947 Dublin stage production of Armlet of Jade. He became a successful figure on the London stage, making a name for himself in the plays of both Shakespeare and Eugene O'Neill. He was an original member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and appeared on Broadway as well.

His film debut occurred in the early 1950s with a small role in Pool of London (1951), and he quickly rose to prominence, primarily in a wide range of supporting roles. During the early stages of his career he worked with the Boulting Brothers on Private's Progress and Carlton-Browne of the F.O.. His performance as "Crow" in The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) garnered him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, making him the first Scottish actor to receive this honour; he also received a Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year - Actor. That same year, he starred alongside Sean Connery in WW2 prison drama, The Hill. Thirty years and scores of films later, Bannen was given the Lifetime Achievement Award of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Later career

Bannen turned down the lead roles in Hawaii Five-0 and Van der Valk. His notable television appearances include Doctor Finlay, Thriller, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Director John Schlesinger cast him as a replacement for Alan Bates in the part of well-off homosexual doctor Daniel Hirsh in his controversial film Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), after Bates was deemed unavailable to shoot. According to screenwriter Penelope Gilliatt, Bannen never felt comfortable with the part; she speculated that he was flustered by the fact that he would have to kiss and simulate sex with male actor Murray Head. The anxiety adversely affected his performance during the early filming. Schlesinger had to fire him and replace him with Peter Finch, who received an Oscar nomination for the role.

Bannen received a BAFTA Award nomination for "Best Supporting Actor" for his performance as suspected child molester Kenneth Baxter in The Offence (1972). He also won acclaim for his roles as Brother Benedict in Lamb (1986), Grandfather George in John Boorman's Hope and Glory (1987) (for which he received a second "Best Supporting Actor" BAFTA nomination), the elder Robert de Brus in Braveheart (1995), and as the touchingly crafty villager in Waking Ned Devine (1998).

The following year he died in a car accident (he was a passenger in a car driven by his wife), at Knockies Straight, near Loch Ness, aged 71. He was survived by his wife, Marilyn Salisbury, whom he had married in 1976; they had no children.

Coatbridge College have named their theatre The Ian Bannen TheatreĀ  in his memory.

Main Filmography

  • Pool of London (1951)
  • Private's Progress (1956)
  • The Long Arm (1956)
  • The Birthday Present (1957)
  • Yangtse Incident (1957)
  • Miracle in Soho (1957)
  • Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (1959)
  • Suspect (1960)
  • A French Mistress (1960)
  • The Hill (1965)
  • Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
  • Penelope (1966)
  • The Sailor from Gibraltar (1967)
  • Lock Up Your Daughters (1969)
  • Too Late the Hero (1970)
  • Fright (1971)
  • The Deserter (1971)
  • Doomwatch (1972)
  • The Offence (1972)
  • The Mackintosh Man (1973)
  • Il Viaggio (1974)
  • Identikit (1974)
  • The Gathering Storm (1974)
  • Bite the Bullet (1975)
  • Sweeney (1977)
  • Inglorious Bastards (1977)
  • The Watcher in the Woods (1980)
  • Night Crossing (1981)
  • Eye of the Needle (1981)
  • Gandhi (1982)
  • The Prodigal (1983)
  • Gorky Park (1983)
  • Defence of the Realm (1985)
  • Hope and Glory (1987)
  • The Courier (1988)
  • La Partita (1988)
  • The Treaty (1991)
  • Damage (1992)
  • A pin for the Butterfly (1994)
  • Braveheart (1995)
  • Waking Ned (1998)
  • To Walk with Lions (1999)
  • Best (2000)
  • The Testimony of Taliesin Jones (2000)

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