IAN BANNEN Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Ian Bannen                                                                           
Born: 29 June 1928 Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, Scotland                                   
Died: 3 November 1999 Knockies Straight, near Loch Ness, Scotland                         
Ian Bannen (June 29, 1928 - November 3, 1999) was a Scottish character actor and           
occasional leading man.                                                                   
Born in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, he was the son of a lawyer. Bannen           
served in the army and attended Ratcliffe College, Leicestershire. His first               
acting role came in a 1947 Dublin stage production of Armlet of Jade. He became           
a successful figure on the London stage, making a name for himself in the plays           
of both Shakespeare and Eugene O'Neill. He was an original member of the Royal             
Shakespeare Company and appeared on Broadway as well.                                     
His film debut occurred in the early 1950s with a small role in Pool of London (1951),     
and he quickly rose to prominence, primarily in a wide range of supporting roles.         
During the early stages of his career he worked with the Boulting Brothers on             
Private's Progress and Carlton-Browne of the F.O.. His performance as "Crow" in           
The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) won him an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting           
Actor, making him the first Scottish actor to receive this honour. Thirty years           
and scores of films later, Bannen was given the Lifetime Achievement Award of             
the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.                                           
Bannen turned down the lead roles in Hawaii Five-0 and Van der Valk. His notable           
television appearances include Doctor Finlay, Thriller, and Tinker, Tailor,               
Soldier, Spy.                                                                             
Director John Schlesinger cast him as a replacement for Alan Bates in the part             
of well-off homosexual doctor Daniel Hirsh in his controversial film Sunday               
Bloody Sunday (1971), after Bates was deemed unavailable to shoot. According to           
screenwriter Penelope Gilliatt, Bannen never felt comfortable with the part; she           
speculated that he was flustered by the fact that he would have to kiss and               
simulate sex with male actor Murray Head. The anxiety adversely affected his               
performance during the early filming. Schlesinger had to fire him and replace             
him with Peter Finch, who received an Oscar nomination for the role.                       
Later in his career, Bannen won acclaim for his roles as Brother Benedict in               
Lamb (1986), the elder Robert de Brus in Braveheart (1995). and as the                     
touchingly crafty villager in Waking Ned Devine (1998).                                   
The following year he died in a car accident, at Knockies Straight, near Loch             
Ness, aged 71. He was survived by his wife, Marilyn Salisbury, whom he had                 
married in 1976; they had no children.                                                     
Coatbridge College have named their theatre The Ian Bannen Theatre in his                 
memory. It is currently seeking funding for a major re-furbishment.