Roy Kinnear

Active - 1955 - 2003  |   Born - Jan 8, 1934 in Wigan, Lancashire  |   Died - Sep 20, 1988   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Spy Film, Musical, Children's/Family

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Biography by Hal Erickson

British comic actor Roy Kinnear received his training at the Theatre Workshop, and made his film debut in 1962's Tiara Tahiti. Short and already balding in his 20s, Kinnear resigned himself early on to character roles; his comic gifts enabled the actor to expand his range as a writer/performer on the fabled early-'60s British TV satirical series That Was the Week That Was. Kinnear became an American favorite for his role as mad scientist Victor Spinetti's harried assistant in the 1965 Beatles film Help!. It was the launching pad of a film career comprised mostly of comic relief and cameo roles. One of Kinnear's most popular film appearances was a two-minute bit specially written for him in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1967), wherein the actor played a trainer of Roman gladiators who conducted his classes in the manner of a golf instructor. Richard Lester, director of both Help! and Forum, cast Kinnear as long-suffering lackey Planchet in the star-studded 1974 filmization of The Three Musketeers, and its sequel (shot simultaneously) The Four Musketeers (1974). With virtually every cast member -- especially Raquel Welch -- clowning it up in the Musketeers films, Kinnear's routines for the first time seemed intrusive. After a decade of variable roles, Kinnear was cast as The Common Man in the 1987 Charlton Heston remake of A Man for All Seasons; it was a brilliant tour de force, with Kinnear displaying a full and versatile range from low comedy to subtle pathos. While recreating his Planchet role in Return of the Musketeers, filmed on location in Spain, Roy Kinnear fell from a horse during a comic chase scene, suffered a heart attack, and died at the age of 54; that film premiered in 1989. Kinnear had completed work on his penultimate feature -- doing one of the voices for the kiddie cartoon The Princess and the Goblin -- not long before his death. It wrapped production in 1992 and took its stateside bow in 1994.

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