If the actor Edward Woodward was still with us, he would be celebrating his 89th birthday today.
Edward Woodward was born in Croydon, London, on the 1st of June, 1930. He would go on to become one of the most beloved British actors.
Unfortunately you don’t see very much discussion of him today. That’s such a great shame in my opinion. I wanted to write this post in the hope that I can introduce him to some new fans.
Edward Woodward began his acting career by working in theatre and television. He first gained recognition for his screen work with his performance as Guy Crouchback, in the 1967 BBC television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s trilogy, Sword Of Honour. He would became a household name here in the UK in the late 1960’s, when he starred in a gritty spy series called Callan. I wrote in depth about this series and Edward’s performance here. The tough and troubled spy, David Callan is the role with which Edward is still most identified with today here in the UK.
In the 1980’s he also became a household name over in the US, thanks to another hit series about a spy, this one called The Equalizer. In this series he plays Robert McCall, a retired American agent who is now known as The Equalizer. He sets up a helpline for people in desperate need of help in situations where the Police haven’t been able to help them or solve a case. Robert McCall goes after scumbags and dishes out a dose of their own medicine to them. Edward makes Robert McCall into a classy badass, and someone who you really wouldn’t want to mess with at all. It is very difficult to imagine any other actor having played that role in the series.
Edward also gained recognition for his superb performances in the British horror film The Wicker Man,and also in the powerful Boer War set drama, Breaker Morant; a film based on a true story, in which Edward played the lead role of a British officer accused of war crimes.
Edward has become one of my favourite actors. I love him so much because he was so very adept at the subtle style of acting. The majority of his performances work as well as they do because of the little looks, gestures and mannerisms that he displays/conveys. With this man a brief flash of emotion in the eyes can speak volumes. He was also terrific at doing scenes where his characters unleash pent up rage or despair. He had the knack to be able to make audiences really feel and believe what he was going through on stage or screen. I also like him because by all accounts he was a genuinely lovely and down to earth man in real life. I like it when actors don’t give themselves airs and graces and are actually nice people.
One of my favourite Edward Woodward performances can be found in the little known miniseries called The Bass Player And The Blonde. Here Edward gets to show off his ability to play both comic and serious characters. He plays cynical bass player, George Mangham, who is both in heavy debt and despair. He meets the much younger Theresa(Jane Wymark) and the pair fall in love. It’s a quirky little series with a lot of heart.
I love how Edward shows George gaining a newfound enthusiasm for life once he falls in love with Theresa. The series also shows us the difficulties inherent in a May/December relationship, and shows us that the course of true love rarely runs smooth. Edward has you laughing one moment and feeling deeply for him the next in this. I love this series because it just sits back and lets the actors do their thing. I also love it due to the mix of comic and poignant moments.
In addition to being a very fine actor, Edward Woodward was also a marvellous singer. His tenor voice is such a joy to listen to. He recorded a series of albums over the years. I think it’s such a shame that his singing career doesn’t seem to get as much appreciation as his acting career. I especially adore his beautiful version of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. You can still buy his albums, and several of his songs are also available on YouTube.
Edward would continue to work steadily in TV, Film and Theatre for decades. His last major film role was his hilarious performance in the film, Hot Fuzz.
Edward suffered a massive heart attack while he was making The Equalizer series and he suffered another in 1994. He underwent triple bypass surgery in 1996. In 2003 he announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Edward passed away on the 16th of November, 2009. He had been suffering from pneumonia.
He had four children: Tim, Sarah, Peter and Emily. All of his children followed in their dad’s footsteps and became actors. Edward was married twice. His first wife was Venetia Barrett, to whom he was married from 1952- 1986. His second wife was the actress Michele Dotrice, to whom he was married from 1987 until his death.
He left behind such a wonderful body of work for us to enjoy. I urge anyone who isn’t familiar with him to start checking out some of his films and series. I highly recommend watching Callan(TV), 1990(TV), Breaker Morant(Film), The Equalizer(TV), A Christmas Carol(Film, 1984), The Wicker Man(Film), The Bass Player And The Blonde(TV), The House Of Angelo(Film), Common As Muck(TV), Champions(Film).
Happy Birthday and R.I.P to a screen legend. Thanks for all your fine work, Edward. You are missed.
Are you a fan of Edward Woodward? Please share your thoughts below.