We were saddened to hear of Robert Hardy’s passing on August 3, 2017, at the age of 91. He had a long, glorious life in historical costume TV and movies, and we’re very sorry to have not gotten around to featuring him in our Man Candy Monday already. He was a classically trained actor, having studied at Oxford (where he became friends with fellow actor Richard Burton), and he learned from many of his roles. To play Henry V in the 1960s, Hardy studied the longbow, becoming quite an expert, writing two books on the topic, and he later served as a consultant for great Tudor warship, the Mary Rose. The chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, Helen Bonser-Wilton, said in the Portsmouth News last week:
“I remember within 24 hours of discovering what we initially thought was a Tudor longbow, Robert was there. He was a massive ambassador for the museum and from the beginning — right up until the reopening last year — he was a pleasure to be around. We are really going to miss him.”
Robert Hardy also became friends with James Herriot, author of All Creatures Great and Small, after acting in the TV series of the books and spoke at Herriot’s funeral. The All Creatures years are full of anecdotes from his costars, such as Peter Davison, about how much of a genial perfectionist “Tim” could be (full name: Timothy Sydney Robert Hardy). While his hard work didn’t make him a big Hollywood star, it did earn him a 13th-century Scottish castle with a walled garden and 50-foot tower as his later-life home. In the statement announcing his death, Hardy’s children said:
“Gruff, elegant, twinkly and always dignified, he is celebrated by all who knew him and loved him, and everyone who enjoyed his work.”
Hardy’s career has so many costume drama highlights that when I posted of his death on Facebook, it seemed like everyone mentioned a different beloved character he portrayed. I’m so glad he’s preserved in our videos, DVDs, and screens.
Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1959)
Lord Hinch in The Buccaneers (1957)
Henry V in An Age of Kings (1960)
Philip Weathers in The Vanishing Trick (1965)
Abwehr Sergeant Gratz in Manhunt (1970)
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester in Elizabeth R (1971)
Archdeacon Haynes in The Stalls of Barchester (1971)
Robert Baldick in The Incredible Robert Baldick: Never Come Night (1972)
Prince Albert in Edward the King (1974)
Sir Guy Paynte in Upstairs, Downstairs (1975)
George Duggan in The Duchess of Duke Street (1976)
Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small (1978–1990)
Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night (1980)
Winston Churchill in Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981)
Julius Caesar in The Cleopatras (1983)
The Commandant in The Far Pavilions (1984)
Lord Bob Lilburn in The Shooting Party (1985)
Winston Churchill in The Woman He Loved (1988)
Winston Churchill in War and Remembrance (1988)
Charles Augustus Milverton in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1992)
Arthur Brooke in Middlemarch (1994)
Professor Krempe in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994)
Sir Herbert Hamilton in Bramwell (1995)
Sir John Middleton in Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Dr. Parnell in Gulliver’s Travels (1996)
President Roosevelt in Bertie and Elizabeth (2002)
Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter series (2002-2007)
Winston Churchill in Agatha Christie’s Marple (2006)
Tite Barnacle in Little Dorrit (2008)
Winston Churchill in Churchill: 100 Days That Saved Britain (2015)
How will you remember Robert Hardy?
FYI: It’s Peter Davison, not Davidson.
Also, Hardy was in Robin of Sherwood as Richard the Lionhearted. The role was written to show Richard as just as manipulative, uncaring, and nasty as his brother Prince John. It was lovely.
His will always be the voice I hear when I read Sir John Middleton’s dialogue in S&S (or frankly, any other character of similar qualities), and I loved him as Siegfried in All Creatures Great and Small. I have not seen most of his other roles, but must add them to my list now.
My two favorite roles of Hardy’s are Arthur Brooke in “Middlemarch” and Sir John Middleton in “Sense and Sensibility”.
I didn’t realize that was him in Sense & Sensibility!
Only one word to describe him: Awesome! He, along with Ian Richardson, are part of a hand full of actors I know I can depend on to be -at the least- very good in anything.
I love the description from his children ‘Gruff, elegant, twinkly and always dignified’, I would add raconteur to that.
He will be missed & thank you for this perfect tribute x
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
There are so many favorite characters that the late and very lamented Robert Hardy made immortal. But if I had to narrow it down to three, they are Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Baron Denbigh in Elizabeth R, the caring equine lover Siegfried Farnham in All Creatures Great and Small and Sir Winston Churchill KG
Elizabeth’s Robin every time!
Please have another look at the still for The Shooting Party. The man with Gielgud looks like James Mason to me. So many good actors lost!
Gielgud was what the meta-data said, so that’s what I used!
Yes, Gielgud, but the one on the left does look more like James Mason, I agree!
I thought he was excellent as Prince Albert in Edward the Seventh (Edward the King) and its been many, many years since I saw “War and Remembrance” but his portrayal of Churchill always stood out for me.
When the internet exploded with “Cornelius Fudge died” (from Harry Potter), twas me that sighed and said, “She’s horribly good at winkling!”
He also appeared briefly in The 10th Kingdom, which is a … well, zany Hallmark fairy tale. ;)
Such a talented actor. So many wonderful roles. I particularly loved his Prince Albert.
Could we have an MCM on Ralph Fiennes? The man has an impressive resume of historical movies, off the top of my head I can think of Schindler’s List, Sunshine, Wuthering Heights, Grand Budapest Hotel, a biopic about TE Lawrence, The Duchess, The White Countess, The Invisible Woman, Quiz Show, Onegin, Great Expectations, the list goes on and on.
The godawful Northanger Abbey from 1987!