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Tony Award-winning classical actor Brian Bedford died Wednesday at his home in Santa Barbara. He was 80.
Bedford’s death was announced on Twitter by the Stratford Festival in southern Ontario, where he performed a host of classical Shakespearean roles over nearly four decades, starting in 1974. “With heavy hearts we bid farewell to Brian Bedford, veteran of 29 seasons, who died today at the age of 80,” the festival tweeted, without specifying his cause of death.
Bedford withdrew from Stratford’s 2011 season owing to serious illness.
Born in Morley, England in 1935, Bedford emigrated to Canada in 1959 and became a mainstay on Broadway, where he made appearances in 17 productions.
His last Broadway role was playing Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, a Stratford production that transferred to New York in 2011. Bedford won a Tony Award for his 1971 star turn in Moliere’s The School for Wives and received another seven Tony nominations.
Bedford was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1997. On screen, Bedford voiced the title role in Disney’s 1973 animated movie Robin Hood and had TV credits like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Armistead Maupin’s More Tales of the City and a cameo role in the 2014 comedy Black Jesus.
“He (Bedford) spent a life on the stage and he was essential to the Stratford Festival,” Antoni Cimolino, Stratford’s artistic director, told CBC News on Wednesday. “He was the reason so many actors became actors. He was the reason our audiences came year after year. He was not only an icon, he was a delight, and we will miss him so much.”
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