Brian Bedford, a veteran at Ontario's Stratford Festival, has died

STRATFORD, Ont. -- Acclaimed British actor Brian Bedford, a Tony Award-winning mainstay of Broadway and Ontario's Stratford Festival, has died.

See Full Article

The festival in Stratford, Ont., told The Canadian Press that Bedford died on Wednesday in Santa Barbara, Calif., after a 2 1/2-year battle with cancer. He was 80.

"The doctors were just astounded by his will to live," said Ann Swerdfager, the festival's publicity director.

Antoni Cimolino, the festival's artistic director, said in a statement that "Brian Bedford was the prime reason I went into the theatre."

Bedford had been ailing in recent years.

In early 2014, illness forced him to pull out of his role as the pope in a touring production of the Vatican mystery thriller "The Last Confession" that visited Toronto. It was a part he said he'd been "really looking forward" to, noting John Paul I was "a very, very sweet, modest, lovely person and I haven't played that kind of part for a long, long time."

In June 2013, he withdrew from his role as Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice" at the Stratford Festival due to "a medical condition." He also missed shows during the festival's 2011 season.

Bedford was a fixture in the southwestern Ontario community of Stratford, where he worked at the festival for 29 seasons, acting and directing.

In 2009, he brought down the house directing and starring (in full drag) as Lady Bracknell in the festival's production of "The Importance of Being Earnest," which moved to Broadway and earned him a 2011 Tony Award nomination for best actor. The production itself won a Tony for best costume design and was nominated for another for best revival of a play.

Bedford's other Stratford roles included King Lear, Macbeth and Richard III. He also performed his one-man show "Ever Yours, Oscar" in Stratford.

Born in Morley, Yorkshire, England to a postal clerk father and a mother who worked in a weaving mill, Bedford's childhood was plagued by poverty and illness (two of his brothers died of tuberculosis). After joining an amateur theatre company as a teen, he landed a scholarship to study at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where classmates included Peter O'Toole and Albert Finney.

Bedford's big break came with "Five Finger Exercise," which moved from London to Broadway with co-star Jessica Tandy in 1959. He went on to star in more than 18 Broadway productions, winning a Tony in '71 for his leading role in "The School for Wives" and netting Tony nominations for several other roles.

Besides Shakespeare, Moliere was another playwright Bedford tackled several times to great acclaim, with productions including "Tartuffe" and "The Moliere Comedies."

It was in the '70s that Bedford first started performing in Stratford. In a 1992 interview with The Associated Press, he said his transformation to classical actor began at the festival when then-artistic director Robin Phillips asked him to perform Shakespeare there.

Getting to play so many leading roles there was "a source of real happiness," he said.

"It's one of the consolations of getting older. If you have the luck, as I have had, to get these opportunities, your technique actually improves. And you are able to play these marvellous parts. When you are young, you have all these fabulous ideas, but you haven't got the technique to realize them."

While he carved out a reputation for mastering classical roles, Bedford was also known for his sharp timing in comedies. He acted in film and TV, with credits including "Nixon," "Grand Prix" and "Coronet Blue."

He's survived by his partner of 30 years, actor Tim MacDonald, whom he married in July 2013.

The two had a home in Stratford.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Aziz Ansari story sparks heated debate over 'MeToo' Movement

    Entertainment CTV News
    The #MeToo movement has been embraced by legions of women as a vital step toward countering widespread sexual abuse and misconduct. This week, more so than at any point in the movement’s brief history, there’s visceral discussion about its potential for causing harm. Source
  • 4-year-old sells paintings for $2,000 at his own N.B. exhibition

    Entertainment CTV News
    For most toddlers, prime real estate on the family fridge is the height of artistic exhibition for their hand-painted masterpieces. Not so for Advait Kolarkar. The four-year-old painter splashed onto the Saint John, N.B. Source
  • Rodman checks into rehab after DUI arrest

    Entertainment CTV News
    The agent for former NBA star Dennis Rodman says the Hall of Famer has checked into an alcohol rehabilitation centre after a weekend DUI arrest. Rodman's agent, Darren Prince, tells The Associated Press that Rodman checked into Turning Point Rehabilitation Center in Paterson, New Jersey, on Wednesday to deal with his longtime struggle with alcoholism. Source
  • Raptors pair Drake jerseys with new charitable program

    Entertainment CBC News
    The Toronto Raptors and Canadian rap star Drake announced plans to grow their partnership Wednesday with a new program called Welcome Toronto. Raptors president Masai Ujiri and Drake — who has served as the team's global ambassador since 2013 — announced the program before the Raptors' home game against the Detroit Pistons. Source
  • Duhamel gets new deal to promote home state of North Dakota

    Entertainment CTV News
    BISMARCK, N.D. -- Hollywood actor Josh Duhamel will continue to promote his home state of North Dakota. North Dakota's tourism agency announced Wednesday in Bismarck that the star of several "Transformers" movies will be paid US$365,000 to be the face of the state's tourism campaign for the next two years. Source
  • Domestic battery charge against 'Glee' actress dismissed

    Entertainment CTV News
    CHESAPEAKE, W.Va. -- A domestic battery charge against an actress on the former hit show "Glee" has been dismissed in West Virginia. WCHS-TV reports that the case against 30-year-old Naya Rivera ended after her husband decided not to seek prosecution. Source
  • Humans will review video from most popular YouTube creators

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Google says humans will now review video from its most popular YouTube creators after recent complaints. The videos being targeted are ones Google packages to advertisers as "preferred" content. While Google has had human reviewers before, it relies heavily on software to flag potential problems. Source
  • Canadian Opera Company launching new Rufus Wainwright production 'Hadrian'

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO - The world premiere of a new production by Rufus Wainwright and Daniel MacIvor headlines the Canadian Opera Company's upcoming season. "Hadrian," Wainwright's second opera, is described as "a poetic meditation on the ways that love overturns worlds both political and personal. Source
  • Fans' frustration grows as Celine Dion cancels more shows

    Entertainment CTV News
    LAS VEGAS - Celine Dion has pulled out of another two concerts in Las Vegas, making it five shows she's had to cancel this month due to illness. A statement on Dion's Facebook page says concerts scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday were cancelled because she "has been suffering for the past week from congestion and irritation of the vocal chords due to a lingering cold. Source
  • U2, Elton John, Kendrick Lamar to perform at Grammys

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- U2 and Elton John are headed to the Grammys to help the organization celebrate its 60th awards show. The Recording Academy announced Wednesday that U2 and John, who will sing one of his classics with Miley Cyrus, will perform at the Jan. Source