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Nicol Williamson, Noted Film and Stage Star, Dies at 75

Scottish actor played Sherlock Holmes and Merlin onscreen and received a pair of Tony nominations.

Nicol Williamson, who starred as Sherlock Holmes in 1976’s The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and Merlin in the 1981 film Excalibur, has died of esophageal cancer, his son announced Wednesday. He was 75.

His son Luke said the Scottish actor died Dec. 16 in Amsterdam, where he had lived for more than two decades.

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Williamson played Little John to Sean Connery’s Robin Hood and Audrey Hepburn’s Lady Marian in Robin and Marian (1976) and received BAFTA nominations for his work in the 1968 films The Bofors Gun (as a suicidal Irish soldier) and Inadmissible Evidence (as a London solicitor who comes to hate his life). Two years earlier, Williamson had received a Tony nomination for his performance in the John Osborne play.

Williamson earned another Tony nom in 1974 for Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. Earlier, his turn in Hamlet at the Roundhouse Theatre in the late ’60s was a sensation in London.

In Herbert RossSeven-Per-Cent Solution, Williamson starred opposite Robert Duvall as Dr. Watson, Alan Arkin as Sigmund Freud and Laurence Olivier as Professor Moriarty. In John Boorman’s Excalibur, he hands over the magic sword to Nigel Terry’s King Arthur.

Williamson also played Jill Clayburgh’s vile boyfriend in I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can (1982) and a priest in The Exorcist III (1990).

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife, Jill.