Actor Sir Antony Sher dies age 72 from cancer

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Sir Antony Sher as King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2016 - Donald Cooper/Alamy Stock Photo
Sir Antony Sher as King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2016 - Donald Cooper/Alamy Stock Photo

Sir Antony Sher, the celebrated Shakespearean actor, has died aged 72 from cancer.

The Royal Shakespeare Company announced the death of Sir Antony on Friday, following his terminal cancer diagnosis in early 2021.

Born in South Africa, Sir Antony played some of Shakespeare's most famous leading roles, including Macbeth, King Lear and Richard III.

Sir Antony's husband, Gregory Doran, who is also the RSC's Artistic Director, is expected to remain on compassionate leave until 2022.

The couple had been together for more than 30 years, with Susie Sainsbury, the RSC's Artists' Associate, saying it was "impossible to imagine one without the other".

Shriti Vadera, the chair of the RSC, added: "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."

Sir Antony Sher and husband Gregory Doran at their wedding in 2005 - Michael Stephens/PA
Sir Antony Sher and husband Gregory Doran at their wedding in 2005 - Michael Stephens/PA

"We shall not look upon his like again"

Thelma Holt, the RSC's Associate Producer, said: "As Shakespeare might well have said, “We shall not look upon his like again.”"

A two-time Laurence Olivier Award winner, Sir Antony joined the RSC in 1982 and later became its Honorary Associate Artist, as well as one of its most prolific acting talents.

He was knighted for services to Acting and Writing in 2000, and also starred in films including Shakespeare in Love, The Wind in the Willows and Churchill: The Hollywood Years.

Catherine Mallyon, the RSC's Executive Director, and Erica Whyman, Acting Artistic Director, said: "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.

"Other 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, Peter Flannery’s Singer, Cyrano de Bergerac, as well as his career defining Richard III.

"Antony was deeply loved and hugely admired by so many colleagues. 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."

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