Keith Michell, Star of 'Six Wives of Henry VIII,' Dies at 89

Levitt-Pickman/Photofest
Keith Michell in the 1972 film "Henry VIII and His Six Wives."

The Australian actor later played insurance-claims investigator Dennis Stanton, a former jewel thief, on 'Murder, She Wrote.'

Keith Michell, best known for his Emmy-winning portrayal of the 16th century King of England in the acclaimed 1970 miniseries Six Wives of Henry VIII, has died. He was 89.

A veteran of the stage, Michell died Friday at his home in the Hampstead area of London, his family told the Chichester Observer.

From 1974-77, the Australian-born Michell served as artistic director of the Chichester Festival Theatre in a post once occupied by Laurence Olivier.

“Keith was amongst the first company of actors to perform at the theater in its inaugural season, when he appeared in the opening production of The Chances in 1962,” Jonathan Church, current Chichester artistic director, said in a statement. “He went on to have a very long and happy association with the theater, including his artistic directorship and performances in Cyrano de Bergerac (1974) and Monsieur Amilcar (1995).”

The BBC’s Six Wives of Henry VIII, which later aired in the U.S. on CBS and PBS, devoted an episode to each of the king’s six spouses. Michell then returned to play the monarch in the feature Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972) and in the 1996 U.K. telefilm The Prince and the Pauper.

His film résumé also includes Dangerous Exile (1958), The Hell Fire Club (1961), All Night Long (1962), Seven Seas to Calais (1962) and The Executioner (1970), and he recurred as Dennis Stanton, a jewel thief turned insurance-claims investigator, on CBS’ Murder, She Wrote.

Born in Adelaide, Michell came to Britain in 1949 and soon became a member of the Young Vic Theatre Company, and years performing on London stages followed. He made his Broadway debut in a 1963 production of the musical comedy Irma La Douce (future Munsters star Fred Gwynne also was in the cast).

In the 1980s, Michell sang “Captain Beaky,” a hit in the U.K.

Survivors include his wife, actress Jeanette Sterke, whom he married in 1956.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4

 

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