Edward Woodward



Born: June 1, 1930
Croyden, Surrey, ENGLAND

Died: November 16, 2009
Truro, Cornwall, England

Edward Woodward, a British actor whose long career as a respected stage actor was accented by two famous television turns playing spies, as the star of both "Callan" and "The Equalizer," died on Nov. 16, 2009, in Truro, Cornwall, England. He was 79 and lived in London and Cornwall. The cause was pneumonia.

Obituary: Mr. Woodward first stepped on stage in 1946. In the mid-1960s, he enjoyed a brief career as a Broadway actor, appearing in three productions in quick succession, most notably as Charles Condomine in High Spirits, the musical version of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, directed by Coward himself. His estimable co-stars included Tammy Grimes and Beatrice Lillie. Though it ran for nearly a year, and was nominated for several Tony Awards, it was not considered a success. His other Broadway appearances were Rattle of a Simple Man in 1963, a show which had earlier been a great hit for him in London; and The Best Laid Plans in 1966.

In the darkly hued "The Equalizer," he played Robert McCall, a former spy who turns vigilante. The sinister, flip side of a conventional detective drama, McCall was the person people turned to when the police couldn't, or wouldn't, help in achieving justice. Bitter and intelligent, the elderly, button-down McCall hardly seemed the man for the job. But Woodward rendered the part a study in controlled rage, furnishing a quiet strength and sense of menace that made the character quite formidable-seeming.

Mr. Woodward had previous experience playing a spy. From 1967 to 1972, he played the title role in in the British series "Callan," about a counterintelligence agent with a license to kill. Like McCall, Callan had seen how the world worked and didn't like it. Working as an assassin for a shadowy government agency called "The Section," he served country and Queen only under duress, mostly detesting his work. The part made the actor something of a cult hero.

On the big screen, he is best known for his part in the Australian courtroom drama "Breaker Morant" in 1980. His first significant movie was the 1973 thriller "The Wicker Man." He also appeared opposite Laurence Olivier in a 1978 adaptation of "Saturday, Sunday, Monday" in the "Laurence Olivier Presents" anthology series.

He was born Edward Albert Arthur Woodward to working class parents in Croydon, Surrey, south of London, on June 1, 1930. Putting aside earlier plans to pursue journalism or a career as a football player, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

He worked extensively as a Shakespeare actor in various repertory companies, finally making his London debut in 1955 in Where There's A Will. He also appeared in the film adaptation of the play that same year. It was his first film appearance. His work in the West End included Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet (both 1858), Two Cities (1968), The White Devil and Cyrano de Bergerac (both 1971), The Wolf (1973), On Approval (1976), Private Lives (1980), Richard III (1982), and The Dead Secret (1992).

A heavy smoker, Mr. Woodward endured numerous health problems over the years. After filming a few episodes of the third season of "The Equalizer," he suffered a massive coronary. His screen time in the next few episodes was greatly reduced as he recovered from the attack. His ailment became part of the show's plot; the first episode filmed following his heart attack involved his character being injured by a KGB bullet. The actor underwent triple bypass surgery in 1996 and quit smoking soon after. In February 2003 it was announced that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Mr. Woodward's first marriage, to the actress Venetia Barrett, ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Michele Dotrice, a daughter of the actor Roy Dotrice; three children with Ms. Barrett, Tim, Peter and Sarah; a daughter, Emily, with Ms. Dotrice; and several grandchildren. All his children are actors.



Playbill Cover - The Best Laid Plans The Best Laid Plans
Mar. 25, 1966 - Mar. 26, 1966
Jason Beckman Performer
Playbill Cover - High Spirits High Spirits
Apr. 7, 1964 - Feb. 27, 1965
Charles Condomine Performer
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Rattle of a Simple Man Rattle of a Simple Man
Apr. 17, 1963 - Jul. 6, 1963
Percy Performer

Inside the Playbill (2)

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