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Actor Colin Blakely is Dead at 56

May 8, 1987 GMT

LONDON (AP) _ Colin Blakely, a versatile Northern Ireland actor who appeared in scores of movies and plays during a 30-year career, died Thursday of leukemia at the age of 56, his agent said.

Blakely was hospitalized two months ago and died at London’s Middlesex Hospital, said his agent Julian Belfrage.

″This is a sad day,″ Belfrage said. ″He was a great, great character, a great friend, a jack-of-all-trades.″

The actor became one of the most familiar faces in British theater, films and on television, generally playing supporting roles. One of his latest appearances was as the doctor and family friend in ″Paradise Postponed,″ a British television mini-series based on the book by John Mortimer.

Born in Bangor, Northern Ireland, Blakely worked for several years with theaters in Belfast and Wales. He made his first stage appearance in London at the Royal Court Theater in 1959, playing the Second Rough Fellow in Sean O’Casey’s ″Cock-a-Doddle-Dandy.″

Blakely appeared in Shakespeare’s ″As You Like It″ and ″Richard III″ with the Royal Shakespeare Co. in 1961. He worked for the newly founded National Theater company from 1963 to 1968.

Blakely’s movie performances included ″This Sporting Life,″ ″Dogs of War,″ ″A Man for All Seasons, ″The Pink Panther Strikes Again,″ and ″Equus.″ He played Dr. Watson in the 1970 film, ″The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.″

″Quite simply Colin was one of this country’s finest actors who has given some of his best work on television,″ said Peter Goodchild, head of BBC-TV Drama and Plays.

Blakely is survived by his wife, Margaret, and three sons.