Legendary West End actor Sir Donald Sinden has died at the age of 90.

Sir Donald Sinden. Photo © 2010 Patrick Baldwin (www.patrickbaldwin.com)

Sir Donald Sinden. Photo © 2010 Patrick Baldwin (www.patrickbaldwin.com)

West End Theatre, film and TV actor Sir Donald Sinden has died in his home in Romney Marsh, Kent aged 90 after a long battle with prostate cancer.

Sinden dominated the West End for over 50 years, becoming particularly well known for his roles in Shakespeare, and went on to appear in more than 70 films and TV shows.

Donald Sinden and Judi Dench in Twelfth Night

Donald Sinden and Judi Dench in Twelfth Night

After training at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, Donald Sinden forged a long and hugely successful stage career, in regional and West End Theatre, and at the RSC.

In 1949 he appeared alongside Ralph Richardson and Peggy Ashcroft in The Heiress at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, directed by John Gielgud, giving more consecutive performances in this play than any other actor since the theatre was built in 1820.

Other West End successes included roles in Ray Cooney farces Not Now, Darling in 1967, Two into One in 1984 and Out of Order in 1990; There’s a Girl in My Soup in 1966; In Praise of Love in 1973; An Enemy of the People in 1975; Present Laughter in 1981; The School for Scandal in 1983; The Scarlet Pimpernel in 1985; Major Barbara in 1988; and Quartet in 1999.

His long association with the Royal Shakespeare Company started when he joined the company in 1946, and he was an Associate Artist since 1967. Notable RSC performances included the Duke of York in The Wars of the Roses opposite Peggy Ashcroft in 1963; Malvolio in Twelfth Night opposite Judi Dench in 1969 and 1974; Sir Harcourt Courtly in London Assurance in 1974 (Broadway Drama Desk Special Award winner); King Lear in Stratford and at the Aldwych (Evening Standard Award as Best Actor) and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing opposite Judi Dench in 1976; and Othello in 1979.

On Broadway he was nominated for a Tony in 1976 for Alan Bennett’s Habeas Corpus.

Donald Sinden and Elaine Stritch

Donald Sinden and Elaine Stritch

His first film – The Cruel Sea in 1953 – was a huge success and launched his screen career, which saw him appear in over 70 movies and TV shows including Doctor in the House, Two’s Company with Elaine Stritch and Never The Twain with Windsor Davies.

In 2013 he presented Sky Arts series Great West End Theatres which detailed the history, architecture and theatrical anecdotes of 40 West End Theatres, presented by Sir Donald Sinden and directed by his son Marc Sinden.

His fascinating life included being one of the last people to have known Oscar Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred Douglas or ‘Bosie’, having befriended him in the 1940’s in Hove, and having been one of only two people who attended his funeral.

Plans for a memorial service celebrating the life of Donald are currently under way.

LINKS

Desert Island Discs – Donald Sinden
Photo of Sir Donald Sinden © 2010 Patrick Baldwin (www.patrickbaldwin.com)