Robert Hardy, British Star Of Stage And Screen, Dies at 91

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From Shakespeare to Harry Potter, Robert Hardy’s career on stage and in film spanned decades.

Robert Hardy, star of the popular British TV series, All Creatures Great and Small, has died. The actor, whose career on stage and screen spanned an impressive 70 years, passed away on August 3 at Denville Hall, a retirement home for actors situated in the outskirts of London. He was 91.

His three children released a statement: “Gruff, elegant, twinkly, and always dignified, he is celebrated by all who knew him and loved him, and everyone who enjoyed his work…Dad is also remembered as a meticulous linguist, a fine artist, a lover of music and a champion of literature, as well a highly-respected historian, and a leading specialist on the longbow. He was an essential part of the team that raised the great Tudor warship The Mary Rose…We are immensely grateful to the team at Denville Hall for the tender care they gave during his last weeks.”

Watch some of Robert Hardy’s career highlights here. 

Early in his career, Hardy trod the boards at Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon where, while playing Henry V, he first developed an affinity for the longbow—something that would ultimately become a lifelong interest. In fact, Hardy became so well-versed on the medieval weapon that he published a book on the subject, Longbow: A Social and Military History (1992).

Hardy first gained international attention in 1977 when he was offered the role of the cantankerous Siegfried in All Creatures Great and Small, a British TV series based on the memoirs of the Yorkshire vet Alf Wright. The series, which ran from 1978-1990, went on to become one of the BBC’s most successful family dramas of all time.

His other screen credits include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), Sense and Sensibility (1995) and four of the seven Harry Potter films, in which he played Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic. Hardy was also known for his numerous—and much-celebrated—portrayals of Winston Churchill in made-for-TV movies and miniseries: Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981), The Woman He Loved (1988), War & Remembrance (1989), Bomber Harris (1989) Agatha Christie’s Marple (2006) and, most recently, Churchill: 100 Days That Saved Britain (2015).

In 1981, Hardy was made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1981 for services to acting.

Hardy is survived by three children, Emma, Justine Hardy and Paul, and four grandchildren.