LONDON — Oscar-winning British thesp Paul Scofield died of leukemia. He was 86. His agent Rosalind Chatto confirmed the legendary actor, who won the best actor Academy award in 1967 for his portrayal of Sir Thomas More in “A Man For All Seasons,” died in a hospital near his home in the south of England.
Though Scofield was more prolific on stage— Richard Burton once remarked “of the 10 greatest moments in theater, eight are Scofield’s”— the thesp often sparkled when plying his trade on the bigscreen.
Aside from his role in “A Man For All Seasons” — a part he also performed on stage — Scofield drew plaudits for his perfs in Tony Richardson’s “A Delicate Balance” alongside Katherine Hepburn in 1973, Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 adaptation of “Henry V,” Robert Redford’s “Quiz Show” in 1995, and Nicolas Hytner’s “The Crucible” the following year.
Among his other TV roles “Martin Chuzzlewit” and “Anna Karenina.”
His performances were often marked by his rich voice and powerful presence. His narrative skills were in demand for such projects as “Animal Farm,” “Genesis: The Creation and Flood,” “Kurosawa” and “Robinson in Space.”
Born on in Hurstpierpoint on the south coast of England, Scofield made his professional acting debut in London in January 1940.
He went on to work regularly with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theater.
Scofield made an acclaimed debut on Broadway in 1961 in the stage version of “A Man For All Seasons,” winning a Tony for his efforts.
His turn as King Lear in 1971’s screen and stage version of William Shakespeare’s tragedy was voted the greatest Shakespearean performance ever in a 2004 poll of actors at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Awarded a CBE in 1956, Scofield reportedly turned down the offer of a knighthood on more than one occasion.
He was made a Companion of Honor in 2001, one of Blighty’s top honors and limited to 65 living people at any one time.
Scofield is survived by his wife, actress Joy Parker, and two children.