Actor John Neville dies at 86

Starred in 'Baron Munchausen'


John Neville, a British-born Canadian actor and stage director who starred in “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” and appeared in TV series “The X Files,” died Saturday in Toronto. He was 86 and was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Neville appeared in dozens of movies, television shows and theater productions during a career that spanned six decades.

He was artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in the 1980s, and in 1988 he played the title character in Terry Gilliam’s fantastical film comedy “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.”

In the ’90s he played the recurring role of the Well-Manicured Man on TV’s “The X-Files” and in the first “X-Files” film.

Well before then, however, he was a stage favorite in London’s West End during the 1950s. As a key member of the Old Vic Company, he played leading roles in many classical works of theater, including Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet” (which he repeated on a 1957 episode of NBC’s “Producer’s Showcase”and the title character in “Richard II.” In a production of “Othello,” he and Richard Burton alternated the parts of Othello and Iago. He showed a different side in “Lolita, My Love,” a musical adaptation of Nabokov’s novel, and took over the lead role in the original West End production of musical “Irma La Douce.”

Neville was born in Willesden, London. After serving in the Royal Navy during WWII, he trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and started his career as a member of the Trent Players.

During the 1950s Neville also worked frequently on British and American television, starring in Shakespeare’s “Henry V” on “BBC Sunday Night Theatre” in 1951, in “Hedda Gabler” on “ITV Play of the Week” in 1957 and in “Hamlet” in “The DuPont Show of the Month” in 1959.

He made his film debut in 1960’s “Oscar Wilde,” starring Robert Morley and Ralph Richardson, playing Lord Alfred Douglas.

On TV during the 1960s he was a regular on ITV’s anthology series “The Company of Five” and starred in the BBC’s 1969 miniseries “The First Churchills,” which became the first series aired as part of “Masterpiece Theatre” when that show launched in 1971.

Neville became artistic director of the new Nottingham Playhouse in 1963, and after he emigrated to Canada in 1972, he took up a.d. positions at a series of theater companies.

In 1993 the actor appeared in an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” as Isaac Newton.

He continued to work steadily into the 2000s, appearing in James Toback’s “Harvard Man” in 2001, a 2002 adaptation of “Crime and Punishment,” David Cronenberg’s “Spider” and as recently as last year in a short called “Bradfordian Rain.”

Neville is survived by wife, Caroline Hopper, and six children.

(Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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