Actor Corin Redgrave dies

Actor Corin Redgrave has died at the age of 70, his family said today.

Actor Corin Redgrave has died at the age of 70, his family said today.

The actor, who is known for his stage, TV and film work, died today surrounded by his family after being taken ill in the early hours of Sunday morning.

A statement issued by Redgrave’s wife, Kika Markham, and family said: “Corin Redgrave has died today. He was taken ill at home in the early hours of Sunday morning.

“He died very peacefully surrounded by his family. We will miss him so very much.”

Redgrave was a member of an impressive acting dynasty and enjoyed a long career on stage and screen.

He was also known for his political activism – campaigning against the Guantanamo Bay detentions and embracing Marxism.

Born in London on July 16 1939, Redgrave entered the famous family as the son of theatrical luminaries Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson.

The brother of actresses Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave, he was father to actress Jemma Redgrave and uncle to TV and film stars Joely and Natasha Richardson.

Redgrave’s first marriage, to former model Deirdre Hamilton-Hill, who died of cancer, led to the births of Jemma, and a son, Luke.

He later married actress Kika Markham and had two more sons, Harvey and Arden.

The young Redgrave embarked upon the “family business” while attending Cambridge University.

His first stage appearance was at the Royal Court in 1961 as Lysander in a production of 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream'.

A professional stage debut in 1963 in 'Chips With Everything' was followed by his first major film, the Oscar-winning 'A Man For All Seasons'.

The following year, Redgrave starred in 'The Deadly Affair' and had other roles in 'Girl With A Pistol', 'The Magus' and 'The Charge Of The Light Brigade'.

Most memorably to younger fans, he played Hamish in the smash hit movie 'Four Weddings And A Funeral' in 1994.

Redgrave also had a distinguished TV career, playing Octavius in a television production of 'Antony And Cleopatra' in 1974.

This was followed in 1983 with his role as Dr Pusinelli in Wagner and in 1994 he was in 'Measure For Measure', playing Angelo.

In 1998, Redgrave appeared as Paul Hoyle in the mini-series 'Ultraviolet', and more recently as Old Jolyon in a re-make of 'The Forsyte Saga'.

But Redgrave never lost his love of theatre and formed The Moving Theatre Company in 1993 with his wife, and sister Vanessa.

In 1998 he won a Laurence Olivier award for his performance as Boss Whalen in the Tennessee Williams play 'Not About Nightingales', and more recently played William Shakespeare’s King Lear in the West End.

He launched a campaign to save the Redgrave Theatre in Farnham, Surrey in England, which was closed in 1998.

The theatre was named after Redgrave’s father Michael, and was due to be demolished for redevelopment.

In April 2005, Redgrave received an award for his efforts promoting the life and works of William Shakespeare.

He was given the Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award for his life-long commitment to the Bard, saying: “When I saw the list of previous award winners, I was at a loss to think how I could have found myself in their company.

“Nevertheless, it’s a great privilege to be recognised for something so dear to my heart.”

In 1995 he published a biography of his troubled father, called 'Michael Redgrave: My Father', which was praised for its honesty about bisexuality and family life.

In the autumn of 2000, Redgrave was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and worried that his children might lose another parent.

In a later interview with the Daily Mail, he said of the experience: “I was positive, though not for any reasons I can completely understand or take credit for.

“In the odd, nightmarish evening or early morning I may have thought that I was going to snuff it in a year’s time, but those were not my normal waking thoughts.

“I was lucky. In my case the disease was only moderately aggressive.”

Redgrave was also a political activist all his life and most recently co-founded the Guantanamo Human Rights Commission with Vanessa to campaign for justice for those kept at the camp.

He said in an interview: “I must have read about Guantanamo Bay some time in early 2003, by which time it had been in existence for several months.

“I was shocked to discover that something so drastic could occur without my knowledge, as I feel I am someone who is quite well informed as to current events.

“I then got to talk to some members of the families whose members are being held at Guantanamo and this spurred me on to doing something. There was nothing at that stage being done on their behalf.”

Redgrave always maintained that a large portion of his acting career was sacrificed for his politics.

He said a few years ago: “I wouldn’t be acting as much as I do now if we were still living in the climate that existed, for example, in the 1970s, when people with outspoken views on one side or the other found it hard to get work.”

Formerly a leading figure in the Marxist Party, Redgrave also co-founded the Peace and Progress Party, which fielded three candidates in 2005’s general election and attacked the “fascism” and “lies” of mainstream politics.

He also wrote in the Guardian about the plight of Britain’s largest gypsy community, at Dale Farm, near Billericay, in Essex in England.

Redgrave had supported their efforts to resist eviction and said travellers were “the most deprived community in the country”.

But Redgrave’s most dedicated thoughts were always for his family. He said: “I live a very happy domestic life.

“I’m intensely fond and proud of my children and grandchildren, terrifically fond of my sisters and greatly attached to my wife. I’m so lucky.”

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