Reuters reports that out actor Sir Nigel Hawthorne died of a heart attack at his home in England at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. He had been receiving treatment for cancer. "It was a heart attack, maybe brought on by the strain of it all," said his agent, Ken McReddie. "He had been battling pancreatic cancer for nearly two years.''
Hawthorne was nominated for an Oscar in 1996 for his lead role in The Madness of King George and had a long career in television and film and onstage. He won a Tony in 1991 for Shadowlands and received acclaim for his role as a gay academic in the film The Object of My Affection, based on the novel by Stephen McCauley. Hawthorne recently appeared in such films as Madeline, The Winslow Boy, and Call Me Claus, in which he portrayed Santa Claus.
Hawthorne, who began acting in the 1950s and was knighted in 1999, was "a brilliant actor and a wonderful friend,'' said McReddie, who was his agent for more than 30 years. He was perhaps best known in his native England for his role as Sir Humphrey Appleby, a suave and crafty civil servant to the prime minister, in the long-running satire Yes Minister. Sir Nigel is survived by his longtime companion, Trevor Bentham.
From the archives of The Advocate
04/04/95: Acting out
After 30 years of classic work, gay actor Nigel Hawthorne goes mad on-screen and wins an Oscar nomination By Michelle Clarkin