Theatre mainstay John Neville dies at age 86
John Neville shares a laugh as he is invested as Member to the Order of Canada by Governor General Michaelle Jean at a ceremony in Ottawa, Friday May 4, 2007. (CP / Fred Charrand)
Published Sunday, November 20, 2011 10:56PM EST
John Neville, the British actor who became a legend of the Canadian stage, died Saturday in Toronto, his family announced. He was 86.
According to a statement released by the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Neville died at Wellesley Central Place, a long-term care facility, of Alzheimer's disease.
Neville was born in London in 1925, and after a distinguished acting career in Britain, he made his way to Canada in the early 1970s. While he never stopped acting, he was also a widely respected theatre-company administrator, serving as artistic director of the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, the Neptune Theatre in Halifax and the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ont.
As a young man, Neville served with the Royal Navy, before making his way to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for formal acting training.
He was a mainstay of London's storied Old Vic Company in the 1950s, filling some of William Shakespeare's most famous roles, including Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet," Richard in "Richard II," and both Othello and Iago in "Othello." He also appeared on Broadway in "Romeo and Juliet" and "Saint Joan."
After moving to Canada in 1972, he continued acting in theatre, television and film.
Neville reached a broader audience when he played the lead role in Terry Gilliam's 1988 film "The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen," and later when he played the Well-Manicured Man on "The X-Files" from 1995 to 1998.
He also appeared on shows ranging from "Queer as Folk" to "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
Neville received the Order of the British Empire in 1965, and was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2006.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Caroline, their six children and six grandchildren.
In a statement, the family requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The Actors' Fund of Canada, or PAL Toronto.
The statement said a private funeral is to be held "immediately." Plans for a memorial will be announced in the New Year.
Written or videotaped messages of remembrance, condolence or celebration can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or courtesy of Rachel Neville Fox at Noble Caplan Abrams, 1260 Yonge Street, 2nd floor, Toronto, Ontario, M4T 1W6.