British actor Alec McCowen died at his home in London on Monday at the age of 91. His career spanned half a century and two continents.
McCowen once said, “I wanted to be an entertainer, not an actor, when I was young... I wanted to be Jack Benny, and I’m still dazzled, still fascinated, by the audacity of a Judy Garland or a Lena Horne or a Frank Sinatra going out there all by themselves and holding an audience’s attention.”
He certainly achieved that goal. For over 50 years, he performed on the big screen and on stage. McCowan played 'Q' in the 1983 Bond film 'Never Say Never Again.' Q is the head of the research and development division that provides James Bond with all his neat gadgets.
He played a police officer hunting a serial killer in Alfred Hitchcock's 1972 film, ‘Frenzy.'
Though he took part in many films. Mr. McCowen really shone on the stage. His theatrical performances garnered much praise. One role that brought much acclaim was when he played the fictional Pope Hadrian in the show 'Hadrian VII'. The show opened in London in 1968 and McGowan later played the role on Broadway. It earned him a Tony award nomination.
The highlight of his career is arguably 'St. Mark's Gospel,' a one-man show successful on both continents. He developed the show after using the Bible as a source for his material. He became fascinated with the Gospel According to Mark.
“I started learning little passages to see if it would come alive, and instantly realized it was absolutely right,” he said in an interview with The New York Times in 1990. “The style had a blunt, astringent quality which suited me. And it was a Gospel of action, not teaching, one which had plenty of episodes and dwelt on none for too long.”
Another one-man show McCowan undertook was ‘Kipling,' for which the New York Times praised him as 'the greatest English literary entertainer since Dickens.'
Mr. McCowan was survived by his sister, Jean, his nieces and nephews.
Source: NY Times