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Albert Finney (1936–2019), Oscar-nominated British actor

by Linnea Crowther

Albert Finney, the Oscar-nominated British actor who appeared in “Tom Jones,” “Scrooge,” and “Skyfall,” died Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 in London after a short illness, according to multiple news sources. He was 82.

Albert Finney was an Oscar-nominated star of movies including “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974), “Annie” (1982), and “Erin Brockovich.” The British actor built his career on the London stage and moved to the big screen with celebrated roles including the lead in 1963’s “Tom Jones.” He was a hit as Hercule Poirot in the original adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” earning Oscar and BAFTA nominations for Best Actor. He sang as he played Daddy Warbucks in “Annie,” and he portrayed Winston Churchill in the television drama “The Gathering Storm,” winning Emmy, Golden Globe, and BAFTA awards.  

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Died: February 7, 2019 (Who else died on February 7?)  

Details of death: Died after a short illness at the age of 82.  

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A man of the people: Finney was raised in what he called a “lower middle class” home, the son of a bookmaker. He remained true to his humble roots when he declined two of England’s greatest honors, a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1980 and a knighthood in 2000. Finney criticized the idea of knighting citizens, saying, “I think the Sir thing slightly perpetuates one of our diseases in England, which is snobbery.”  

Notable quote: “The most elusive thing in film is that you try to give it the breath of life in a sense. That’s the thing you very rarely get, I think. And when you see a film after you’ve finished it, out of the ninety minutes, there are probably about… 10 or 20 seconds scattered here and there where you think, ‘Ah, yes.’” —Finney in a 1982 interview with The Guardian  

What people said about him: “Very sad to hear about Albert Finney. I had the enormous privilege of working with him early on. Apart from being effortlessly great he was also a great all round example of how to behave.” —British actor Rufus Sewell  

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Albert Finney. The recipient of the BAFTA Fellowship in 2001, Finney will be warmly remembered for his powerful performances in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Tom Jones, Big Fish and many more.” —Statement from BAFTA  

Full obituary: New York Times

Related lives:  

Wait, Who Never Won an Oscar? — Albert Finney and other greats who never took home an Oscar

Peter O’Toole (1932–2013), “Lawrence of Arabia” star

Alan Rickman (1946–2016), actor known for roles in “Die Hard” and the “Harry Potter” series

Richard Harris (1930–2002), Irish actor who starred in films including “Camelot”

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