Sam Kelly, British character actor best known for his parts in “‘Allo ‘Allo” and “Porridge,” has died. He was 70.
According to BBC News, his agent Lynda Ronan said he died after battling a long illness. In February, Kelly withdrew from his role as the Wizard of Oz in the West End musical “Wicked” citing ailing health.
“He does not leave any family but a host of friends who were his chosen family,” Ronan told BBC News.
The Manchester-born actor played Nazi captain Hans Geering in “‘Allo ‘Allo” between 1982 and 1987. He’s also known for playing prisoner Bunny Warren in BBC’s “Porridge,” starring alongside Ronnie Barker between 1974 and 1978.
His other television credits include “Barbara” and ’90s sitcom “On the Up” with Dennis Waterman and Joan Sims. Kelly was also a favorite of director Mike Leigh, and played Ralph in the Leigh-directed TV movie “Grown-Ups.”
Kelly also portrayed Hilter in 1993 TV dramedy “Stalag Luft” alongside Stephen Fry and Nicholas Lyndhurst. Fry tweeted about Kelly after hearing about his death.
Very saddened to hear about Sam Kelly’s death. He played a splendid Hitler in a comedy drama called Stalagluft I made with Nick Lyndhurst…—
Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) June 14, 2014
The Brit had a reputation for being a serious, versatile character actor who could also deliver a comedic line with perfect timing. Along with being a lasting presence on British television, Kelly was known for his roles as a theater actor as well, often appearing at the National Theatre and the Old Vic.
In 2004, the same year he appeared in soap “EastEnders,” he was featured alongside Sir Ian McKellen as the emperor in “Aladdin.” He was also praised for his work on “Wicked.”
Former “Doctor Who” star Colin Baker, who studied with Kelly at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in the ’60s, paid tribute to the late actor via Twitter.
Cannot believe that lovely Sam Kelly has died. We were at drama school together – lovely, funny , talented chap. So sad.—
Colin Baker (@SawbonesHex) June 14, 2014
Actor Phil Davis was another one of the many to reach out on Twitter:
So sad to hear that Sam Kelly has died, a wonderful actor, a proper gent and one of the funniest men I ever had the pleasure of working with—
Phil Davis (@PhilDavis6) June 14, 2014