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Alan Bates - Obituary

Story by: Jack Foley

ACTOR, Sir Alan Bates, has died at the age of 69, having been suffering from cancer of the liver.

The popular British star, who achieved notoriety for wrestling naked with Oliver Reed in the film version of Women in Love, passed away in a London clinic on Saturday night (December 28, 2003).

Sir Alan had a long career in the theatre, cinema and television, after shooting into the limelight in John Osborne's Look Back in Anger.

Born in Derbyshire, in 1934, Sir Alan won a scholarship to Rada from school, but served in the RAF, before landing his first acting job with a Midlands repertory company.

Six months later, he auditioned for the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre, and made his debut in The Mulberry Bush, in 1956.

This led to the part of Cliff Lewis, in Look Back in Anger, which also took him to Broadway.

His film career was launched with The Entertainer in 1960, and was quickly followed by Whistle Down the Wind and The Caretaker.

He went on to appear in many period productions, most notably Far From the Madding Crowd, The Go-Between and Ken Russell's infamous Women in Love.

In total, he appeared in over fifty films.

On television, he remains best known for his performance in the BBC serial, The Mayor of Casterbridge, in 1978.

He remained fondest of the stage, however, and has many awards to show for his various performances, including the 1983 Variety Club Award, for A Patriot for Me, the 1975 Variety Club Award for Otherwise Engaged, the 1971 Evening Standard Award, as Best Actor, for Butley, the Best Actor Tony award for the same work, and the 1959 Clarence Derwent Award for A Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Sir Alan was knighted in the New Year Honours of 2003.

His wife and second son died several years ago.

His final role will be in the upcoming mini-series, Spartacus, alongside ER star, Goran Visjnic.

Glenda Jackson MP, a former friend and colleague, said in an interview with BBC Radio 4: "As he grew older he became an even better actor with much greater depth and breadth.

"I just thought that, apart from being a really first-rate actor, he was the most delightful person."

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