Not Alan Rickman? Nooooooo, I loved him so. The perfect foil to Bruce Willis’ macho bad boy in “Die Hard.” The perfect villain in a million British costume dramas. He was always in on the joke, but never gave it away, which made his lip-curling sneer so wonderful. I haven’t seen more than 20 minutes of a Harry Potter movie, but I’ll treasure him in many, many others.
Sixty-nine is young these days. Probably a smoker. Bowie was a smoker. The sooner this habit enters the ashtray of history, the better.
And the third? You probably didn’t know him, but I did: Brian Bedford, Canadian stage actor extraordinaire. He was part of the company at Stratford, and played every role you can think of, always spectacularly. Another argument for the importance of the arts, right here:
Mr. Bedford was born on Feb. 16, 1935, in the mill town of Morley, near Leeds and Bradford, in Yorkshire — “a pretty awful place,” he told The New York Post in 1971, comparing it to Lawrence, Mass., another city that played a grim role in his family history. “Only much dirtier. Chimneys belching smoke night and day.”
His father, Arthur, was a postal worker; his mother, the former Eleanor O’Donnell, was a factory weaver. Two of his three older brothers died of tuberculosis. Sometime after Brian left home and began his acting career, his father took his own life.
“Suicide runs in the family,” Mr. Bedford said in a Times interview in 1971. “My father’s brother also committed suicide. He got a girl into trouble when he was 22, and in order to save face for both families, he emigrated to America, took a boat to Boston, went to a tiny place — Lawrence, Mass. — booked into a hotel and shot himself in the mouth.”
The austerity of his upbringing fostered a lively fantasy life. “I used to spend all my time pretending to be a radio,” Mr. Bedford said. He attended a Roman Catholic school in Bradford but left at 15, working in a warehouse by day and performing in amateur theater at night. At 18, he auditioned for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
And it’s the arts that certain elements of the education-reform movement would like to push aside in favor of more things that dollar up on the hoof, so to speak. Job skills, you know, not poetry and drama and other fag stuff. Fuck that noise; if it weren’t for the dream of escaping these grimy tank towns to play music or act or just to enjoy these things in an audience, a lot of kids like Brian Bedford would have ended up living and dying in places like Morley.
So with the death of these three artists, let’s look toward the tail end of the week. I have a big project to start writing, and so I will. Before I do, though, I leave you with the best SOTU analysis I have yet read. It’s pants-wettingly funny. Enjoy.