Denholm Elliott, 70, distinguished British screen and stage actor, died Oct. 6 at his home in Ibiza, Spain, of complications arising from AIDS.
Best known for his 1980s roles in such films as Steven Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and James Ivory’s “A Room With a View,” Elliott had been a mainstay of British cinema since the late ’40s. He had solid early roles in David Lean’s “The Sound Barrier,” Charles Frend’s “The Cruel Sea,” and George More O’Ferrall’s Graham Greene adaptation “The Heart of the Matter,” and even had a romantic lead toplining in Wolf Rilla’s 1956 drama “Pacific Destiny.”
Ismail Merchant, who produced two films with Elliott, “A Room With a View” and “Maurice,” said: “He was an all-giving person, full of life. … He had an affection and feeling for other actors, which is very unusual in our business.”
Elliott was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role in “A Room With a View.”
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Born in London, Elliott graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and spent much of World War II in a prisoner-of-war camp, later bringing great authority to military roles. He made his stage debut in 1945 and screen debut in 1949.
His early stage credits include a stint opposite Laurence Olivier in “Venus Observ’d,” and most recently on the London stage in David Mamet’s two-hander “A Life in the Theater.”
He had many memorable film assignments in both Britain and Hollywood in the ‘ 60s, as Alan Bates’ tutor in getting ahead in Clive Donner’s black comedy “Nothing But the Best,” in Bryan Forbes’ made-in-Hollywood “King Rat,” Lewis Gilbert’s “Alfie,” William Friedkin’s “The Night They Raided Minsky’s,” Donner’s “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush” and Robert Aldrich’s “Too Late the Hero.”
During the ’70s he appeared opposite Bette Davis in the TV movie “Madame Sin, ” with Claire Bloom in Patrick Garland’s version of Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” opposite Sean Connery in Richard Lester’s “Robin and Marian” and “Cuba,” in Franklin J. Schaffner’s “The Boys from Brazil” and in Nicolas Roeg’s “Bad Timing.”
The last decade he co-starred with Sting in Richard Loncraine’s “Brimstone and Treacle” as well as Loncraine’s comedy “The Missionary,” John Landis’ hit “Trading Places,” Bill Murray’s remake of “The Razor’s Edge,” telefilm “The Happy Valley” and opposite Nicole Kidman in the TV miniseries “Bangkok Hilton.”
Among his best roles were Dennis Potter’s TV movie “Blade on the Feather,” directed by Loncraine, and as a dissolute British accountant stationed in the Far East in Peter Bogdanovich’s 1978 “St. Jack.” His final feature film was Bogdanovich’s adaptation of “Noises Off.”
Other recent credits include Woody Allen’s “September,” the TV adaptation of Dickens’ “Bleak House,” a telefilm of Robert Ludlum’s “The Bourne Identity” and Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”
He won several awards, including back-to-back British Film and Television Academy awards (equivalent to Hollywood’s Oscar) for supporting parts in “A Private Function” and “Defence of the Realm.”
His first marriage to actress Virginia McKenna ended in divorce. Survived by his second wife, Susan Robinson, a son and a daughter.