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Roderick John McCormack was born on the 3 July 1925 in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland to Alexander McCormack (1898—1970) and Patricia McCormack (née Mackenzie; 1900—1984). McCormack also had three brothers, Alastair, Albert and James. McCormack attended primary school at the Buchanhaven Primary School, but when it came to when he was to start secondary school, instead of going to the Peterhead Academy his parents had him sent to the Aberdeen Grammar School in Aberdeen. McCormack went on in school right until the end of sixth year, at which point he had been recommended tot he Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. McCormack attended the Royal Scottish Academy from 1943 to 1945, and was a respected alumnus of the Academy, most notably for being one of the Academy's first Method actors. McCormack departed the Academy in 1945 to make his name known on stage.
McCormack has appeared in a variety of popular Theatre productions, and has won a total of three Tony Awards. In 1959, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance in a Royal Court Theatre production of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, in which he played the role of Benedick. In 1964, he won another Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his peformance of the title character in the Royal Court Theatre of another Shakespeare play Othello. In 1982, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance Javert in an Everyman Theatre's production of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables.
He has also appeared in theatrical productions by various other theatre companies other than the Royal Court Theatre and Everyman Theatre. He was also a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1955 to 1966, and appeared in many of their productions, most notably Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest. In 1969, he made a highly recognised performance of Julius Caeser in a National Theatre of Scotland production of William Shakespeare's Julius Caeser - the performance received much critical acclaim by critics from all over the United Kingdom. Fellow Scottish performers Deborah Kerr (as Calpurnia Pisonis) and Ian Bannen (as Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger) also received critical acclaim for their peformances in their production.
Film, television and voice work
McCormack made his debut screen appearance in 1951, when he appeared as Rooker in the Ealing Studios comedy film The Lavender Hill Mob. The same year he appeared in the popular television show Café Continental.
McCormack's breakthrough cinematic appearances were in films including The Dam Busters, The Brides of Dracula, The Parent Trap, A Shot in the Dark, Camelot, Rosemary's Baby and A Clockwork Orange. He also made appearances in popular television shows including Dixon of Dock Green, Z-Cars, The Avengers, The Saint and Crossroads.
In 1971, McCormack got his debut starring role, as eccentric but professional detective Frederick "Freddie" Piper in the British mystery-crime film Murder Incorporated, based on the best-selling book of the same name by Kenneth Kennedy. The film was also popular in the United States, and got McCormack nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. In 1974, he reprised the role in The Strenuous Tide, which was also a novel of the same name by Kennedy. The role once again gained McCormack critical acclaim. Seven years later a 56-year-old McCormack reprised the role once again in the third installment to the film Weapon of Choice, again based on a book by Kenneth Kennedy and again hugely popular.
In the 1970s, McCormack appeared as Sergeant Harvey Tomlinson in The Day of the Jackal (1973), Lieutenant Roy Davison in A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Maxwell Forstner in The First Great Train Robbery (1979). He also voiced the character of Thornberry the rabbit in the 1978 animated film Watership Down, based on the novel by Richard Adams. He also made prolific appearances in the television shows The Sweeney and The Professionals. In the 1980s, he appeared in three films directed by Terry Gilliam: he played the sorceror Madstone in Time Bandits (1982), Byron Lugovitch in Brazil (1985) and Olivier in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). He also played Saint Joseph in the controversial 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ.
In the later years of his career between 1990 and 1995, he only appeared in three films, which were The Exorcist III (1990), Hear My Song (1991) and Black Beauty (1994). He also appeared as Paul Hollis in the popular British soap opera EastEnders from August 1991 to May 1992. He also appeared in other television shows Brookside, Last of the Summer Wine and Casualty. McCormack's final screen appearance was in a 1995 episode of The Bill. He then retired after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
McCormack's most notable radio work was as the voice of Saruman in a radio production of Lord of the Rings (1981-82). He also made radio appearances as Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, James Bond in Dr. No, Judge Thatcher in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Professor Abraham van Helsing in Dracula, Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin of Sherwood and Bertie's father in The Butterfly Lion.
- Commander of the Order of the British Empire - Birthday Honours 1990
- Lifetime Achievement Award - BAFTA Awards 1995
Personal life and death
McCormack married his wife Margaret Scott in 1960 in Edinburgh. They moved to Paisley, Glasgow in 1962, where they raised their three children Emma (born 1963), Isobel (born 1964) and David (born 1967). McCormack and Scott lived in Paisley for the rest of their lives. Scott was diagnosed with breast cancer in the mid-1980s, and died from the disease in 1990, leaving McCormack as a widower.
McCormack was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in June 1995, prompting him to retire from acting. As there was no one to care for him at home as his children all lived away and couldn't visit him much, he was admitted to the Paisley Care Home as his condition grew worse in 1998. McCormack died at the care home on the 21 September 2002, at the age of 75, from kidney failure. His death was first reported on BBC News with the headline "Veteran Scots Actor Roddy McCormack dies".
McCormack's funeral took place on the 29 September 2002, at his childhood home in Peterhead, after which he was cremated and his ashes were buried with those of his wife in a cemtery just outside Peterhead. Notable attendants at the funeral included fellows Scots actors Ian Richardson and Robbie Coltrane. Other included Frank Finlay, Amanda Donohoe and Kenneth Cranham. McCormack is survived by his three children Emma, Isobel and David.
- ↑ Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales, 1916-2005.
- ↑ Alumnus of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (1945 - 59). The Independent. Retrieved 2012-12-24
- ↑ What Is Method Acting?. Wisegeek. Retrieved 2012-12-24
- ↑ http://www.famouswhy.com/List/c/Royal_Shakespeare_Company_members/ Royal Shakespeare Company members]. Famouswhy. Retrieved 2012-12-24
- ↑ Veteran Scots actor Roddy McCormack dies. BBC News. Retrieved 2012-12-24
- ↑ Obituary: Roddy McCormack. The Daily Record. Retrieved 2012-12-24
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