British Actor Once Hailed as Greatest of His Generation Dies at 75

Jan 26, 2012  •  Post A Comment

A British actor who was once hailed as the greatest actor of his generation has died after a battle with esophageal cancer, reports the Los Angeles Times. Nicol Williamson was 75.

Williamson, who acted in TV, on the stage and in movies, was known for portraying Merlin in the 1981 movie "Excalibur" as well as for his sometimes difficult behavior, the story notes.

In 1991, when he played the ghost of John Barrymore in Broadway’s "I Hate Hamlet," Williamson whacked a fellow actor with a sword and then asked the audience, "Well, should I sing?," the piece says.

The story reports: “Upon seeing Williamson portray Hamlet in London in 1969, the New York Times review declared that the title of ‘Greatest English Actor of his Generation’ was about to fall on Williamson’s shoulders.”

Not long afterward, he said he wasn’t interested in being "the greatest actor of my generation, and all that jazz," and turned to music, releasing a country album in 1971, the piece notes.

Williamson had almost 20 TV acting credits, including portraying King Ferdinand in 1985’s "Christopher Columbus," the story says.

In later years he increasingly turned to music, finishing the recording of an album not long before he died, according to his son, who is his sole immediate survivor, the piece notes.

nicol-williamson.gifNicol Williamson

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