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Ralph Richardson


Recognised less that his contemporaries John Mills, Olivier, Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft, Richardson was nevertheless a vital contributor to that last generation of Victorian stage actors who found fame on the big screen.
Born in 1902 to teacher parents, he joined the Birmingham Rep, then the Old Vic in 1930 and enjoyed a successful stage career in the 1930s. For his services to theatre he was knighted in 1947, a year before he put in his most memorable screen performance that of the butler in Carol Reed’s The Fallen Idol.
David Lean recruited him for The Sound Barrier in 1952. He remained primarily a stage actor, but he can be seen to good effect in Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962), in Lean’s Doctor Zhivago and in Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits (1981), in which he fittingly played a whimsical, benevolent God. 

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