The actor Peter Wyngarde is dead at the age of 90, his agent has confirmed.
Wyngarde played the dandy, detective Jason King in the 1970s tv show of the same name – which was a partial inspiration for the movie Austin Powers.
She has had numerous stage roles, as well as the game of the gold-masked Klytus in Flash Gordon and the Performace in Doctor Who.
His agent and manger, Thomas Bowington, has described him as “one of the most unique, original and creative actors,” which he had seen.
“As a man, there were very few things in life that he didn’t know.”
“I sometimes nicknamed The King because, simply, he knew everything,” Bowington added.
Wyngarde began his career on stage, in a production on Noel Cowards’ Present Laughter at the Birmingham Theatre Royal in 1947; and later starred alongside Richard Burton in the big screen adaptation of Alexander the Great.
In 1959, he starred in ITV’s the South – which some have argued was the first gay drama on British television.
Set during the american Civil War, and is characterized by Wyngarde as a lieutenant in the Polish army Jan Wicziewsky, that must decide who he loves: Miss Queen, a plantation owner’s niece; or a tall, sturdy officer called Eric MacClure.
Broadcast live in a time when homosexuality had not been decriminalised in the UNITED kingdom, the drama received scathing reviews in the press.
“I don’T see anything interesting in the agony and ecstasies of a pervert, especially in close-in my living room,” said The Daily Sketch critic.
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Unbeknownst to the public, Wyngarde, was himself gay, and has had a long-term relationship with actor Alan Bates.
“I believe we should give Wyngarde a massive pat on the back in terms of courage in taking on this role,” said BFI curator Simon McCallum when the South was rediscovered five years ago.
The furor over the program has not affected the actor’s career, and has starred in a number of 1960s television shows including The Saint, The Prisoner and The Avengers before its debut, and Jason King in the spy drama Department S.
The character proved so popular that Wyngarde had a spin-off of the series that made him a household name in the US and Australia.
He started his fashion column in a newspaper and, after the Australian women voted him the man that I would like to have a relationship with, was assaulted at Sydney airport.
“It was one of the most terrifying experiences I remember,” he recalled. “Me to the ground, tore my clothes, debagged me… I was in the hospital for three days.”
His career suffered a setback in 1975, when he was arrested and sentenced for “an act of serious indecency” with a truck driver. He was fined Â£75 by magistrates under his real name of Cyril Louis Goldbert.
The star said the belief disturbs him deeply, but did not affect his career. However, his days as a leading man were largely finished.
He attributed the decline to type cast “little people”, but the homophobia was without doubt a factor.
The king remained his most famous character, a globe-trotting playboy with a surprising variety of clothes. And it was not just her sartorial extravagance that has inspired Mike Myers to create the Austin Powers: the King also uttered the phrase, “groovy, baby” in one episode.
“I decided Jason King was going to be an extension of me,” he once said. “I was inclined to be a dandy – I used to go to the tailor with my designs.”
However, he took the character of the style of life a little too literally, fight alcoholism in 1980. He only quit after you cut ties with a friend in a fight that he couldn’t remember.
“Jason King had champagne and strawberries for breakfast, just as I have done to myself,” he told The Observer in 1993.
“I drank myself to a dead point. When I think about it now, I marvel that I am still here.”
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Wyngarde dead at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London after being sick for a couple of months.
His agent has said that despite his age, the actor had roles and appearances in a row for next year.
Mark Gattiss has been between those who, in the homage on Twitter.
“What a life. That thing is a legend. Jason King is dead. Long life-up to Jason King!”
Links Doctor Who writer Paul Cornell also paid tribute, acknowledging that many details of Wyngarde’s life, including his place of birth and parentage, were clear.
“It’s terrible and impossible #peterwyngarde is dead”, he wrote, the link to stella, strangely, the warning heavy page of Wikipedia.
“Extraordinary, detail disputed, and the life. It was strangely magnificent.”
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