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Robert Hardy (1925)

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Timothy Sydney Robert Hardy, CBE, FSA is an English actor with a long career in the theatre, film and television. He is also an acknowledged expert on the longbow.


 early life
Hardy was born in Cheltenham, England, the son of Jocelyn (née Dugdale) and Henry Harrison Hardy. His father was headmaster of Cheltenham College. He was educated at Rugby School and Magdalen College, Oxford University where he gained a BA in English. On BBC Radio Four's Desert Island Discs he described the degree he obtained as "shabby"

Hardy began his career as a classical actor. In 1959 he appeared as Sicinius opposite Laurence Olivier in Coriolanus at Stratford-upon-Avon, directed by Peter Hall. He then appeared in Shakespeare's Henry V on stage and in television's An Age of Kings , and subsequently played Coriolanus in and Sir Toby Belch for the BBC Television Shakespeare in 1980. It was while playing Henry V that Hardy developed an interest in medieval warfare, and he later wrote and presented an acclaimed television documentary on the subject of the Battle of Agincourt. He has also written two books on the subject of the longbow, Longbow: A Social and Military History and The Great War Bow with Matthew Strickland. He was one of the experts consulted by the archaeologist responsible for raising the Mary Rose. In 1996 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Over the years, Hardy has played a range of parts on television and film. His first continuing role in a TV series was as businessman Alec Stewart in the award-winning oil company drama The Troubleshooters for the BBC, which he played from 1966 to 1970. He won further acclaim for his portrayal of the mentally-unhinged Abwehr Sgt. Gratz in LWT's 1969 war drama Manhunt. In 1975, Hardy appeared in the episode "Such a Lovely Man" in the fifth season of the series Upstairs, Downstairs.

He was seen as the senior veterinarian Siegfried Farnon in the long-running All Creatures Great and Small (1978–1990), an adaptation of James Herriot's novels.

Hardy also made an appearance in the 1986–88 ITV comedy series Hot Metal, in which he played the dual roles of newspaper proprietor Twiggy Rathbone and his editor, Russell Spam.

In 1993 Hardy appeared in an episode of Inspector Morse, playing Andrew Baydon in "Twilight of the Gods". Hardy played the part of the successful businessman with a murky wartime past with a characteristic blend of the vulnerable and the bombastic.

Hardy holds the distinction of playing both Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and having played both roles on more than one occasion. He played Churchill most notably in Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years , for which he won a BAFTA award, but also in The Sittaford Mystery, Bomber Harris and War and Remembrance. He played Roosevelt in the BBC serial, Bertie and Elizabeth, and in the French TV mini-series, Le Grand Charles, about the life of Charles de Gaulle.

Returning to his Churchill experience at 3:50pm on 20 August 2010 he read Churchill's famous wartime address "Never was so much owed by so many to so few" at a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the speech.

He also played Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester in Elizabeth R, and Prince Albert in Edward the Seventh . He took a role in the 1995 film version of Sense and Sensibility.

His big screen roles include Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter films, and Lord Malan in His Master's Voice.

His voice performance as Robin Hood in Tale Spinners For Children "Robin Hood", a LP from the 1960s, is considered one of the best Robin Hood renditions. His voice was also the voice of D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers, and of Frédéric Chopin, in "The Story of Chopin".

 personal life
His first marriage, in 1952, was to Elizabeth Fox, the daughter of Sir Lionel Fox. This marriage ended in 1956. In 1961 he married Sally Pearson, the daughter of Dame Gladys Cooper and sister-in-law of Robert Morley. This marriage ended in 1986. Robert Hardy has three children.

He was a close friend of actor Richard Burton, whom he met at Oxford University.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Robert Hardy", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.