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Antony Sher, ‘Shakespeare in Love’ Actor, Dead at 72

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Antony Sher, the South Africa born theater actor known for his Shakespearean roles, has died of cancer. He was 72.

The news was revealed by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) on Friday.

Sher was born in South Africa in 1949 and was raised there before proceeding to London to study at the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art 1969-1971. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982.

In films, Sher was known for his roles in “Shakespeare in Love” (1998), “Mrs. Brown” (1997), “The Wolfman” (2010) and “Erik the Viking” (1989), but it is in theater that he became a renowned name, winning the Olivier award for best actor twice — in 1985 for “Richard III” and “Torch Song Trilogy” and in 1997 for “Stanley.”

He also earned a BAFTA TV award best actor nomination for one-man show “Primo” (2007).

Sher was an Honorary Associate Artist at the RSC and husband of the institution’s artistic director, Gregory Doran. Sher was diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier this year with Doran taking compassionate leave from his role in September to care for him.

Catherine Mallyon, RSC executive director and Erica Whyman, acting artistic director, said in a joint statement: “We are deeply saddened by this news and our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Greg, and with Antony’s family and their friends at this devastating time. Antony had a long association with the RSC and a hugely celebrated career on stage and screen. Antony’s last production with the company was in the two-hander ‘Kunene’ and ‘The King,’ written by his friend and fellow South African actor, writer and activist, John Kani.”

“Antony was deeply loved and hugely admired by so many colleagues,” Mallyon and Whyman added. “He was a ground-breaking role model for many young actors, and it is impossible to comprehend that he is no longer with us. We will ensure friends far and wide have the chance to share tributes and memories in the days to come.”

Sher’s recent productions at the RSC include “King Lear,” Falstaff in the “Henry IV” plays and Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman.” Earlier landmark performances included Leontes in “The Winter’s Tale,” Iago in “Othello,” Prospero in “The Tempest” and the title roles in “Macbeth,” “Tamburlaine the Great,” “Cyrano de Bergerac,” as well as his career defining “Richard III.” He also played Ringo Starr in Willy Russell’s “John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert.”

Sher’s autobiography “Beside Myself” was published in 2002.

RSC chair Shriti Vadera said: “Our hearts go out to Greg today, as on behalf of all RSC board members, past and present, we express our deep sadness, affection and condolences to him and other members of Antony’s family. Antony was beloved in the RSC and touched and enriched the lives of so many people.”

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