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That Voice: Remembering Actor Alan Rickman

That Voice: Remembering Actor Alan Rickman

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Fans and friends are mourning the actor best known as Snape in the Harry Potter films, Has Gruber in Die Hard and for a shocking gay kiss in Dark Harbor.

Alan Rickman, a beloved star of stage and screen, has died. He was 69.

A statement from his family to the BBC said he had been suffering from cancer.

With performances ranging from Shakespearean plays to the Harry Potter movies, Rickman was versatile and best known for what the BBC recalled as his "sonorous, languid voice." He revealed in an interview with NPR he had developed his voice to overcome a speech impediment caused by restricted movement in his jaw -- a condition with which he was born.

Tributes have been popping up all morning across social media.

Among his films were Die Hard, Sweeney Todd, Michael Collins, Dogma, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the eight Harry Potter films and Truly, Madly, Deeply.

That 1991 drama proved Rickman could be the leading man as well as play villains. Last year he married his longtime girlfriend Rima Horton, who he met as a teenager in art school more than 50 years ago.

Although he was straight, one of Rickman's roles most celebrated by the LGBT community was his portrayal of a duplicitous husband in the 1998 film, Dark Harbor. His character conspires with his lover to kill his wife, a plot point not revealed until a kissing scene at the end of the film.

Rickman, who directed in addition to starring in plays, TV and film, was born in west London, reported the BBC, the second of four children. His mother was a housewife unti the death of his father, a painter and decorator. Rickman was eight years old when his dad died of lung cancer, forcing his mother to find work to feed her family.

Moviegoers will see Rickman's final performances in a few new films this year, including Eye in the Sky, about drone warfare in Kenya, and Tim Burton's fantasy sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass.

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