Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Old Bailey

The fellow above is one Reginald "Leo" McKern born this day 1920, in Sydney, Australia. Leo made his first stage appearance in 1944, and never looked backed. He played a lot of roles, a "number two" in the famous British TV series "The Prisoner", and a role as Thomas Cromwell in "The Man for All Season." However, his most famous role was as Horace Rumpole of the Bailey, from his first appearance in 1975 until 1992. Only seven total seasons of the series were shot, a mere forty-four episodes, but they were, and remain lovely TV. Not like the dreck you see on TV today, but famous roles sometimes come at a price. McKern was always concerned (quite rightly) that he would be forever known as Rumpole. He even commented his obit would read "known to millions as Rumpole." I have not read an obit of him, and I do really want to (it would be too sad), but I figure there is a high probability that somewhere in one of them that line appears. However, never one to follow a crowd, I put Leo on the podium for his role in the PBS series "Reilly: Ace of Spies." He played (brilliantly) the role of Basil Zaharoff in that series, and did a wonderful job with a role that was not that big. There are no small parts, only small actors. It seems that Leo suffered from stage fright that got worse as he got older, taken that into consideration his performances in his later years are even more remarkable to perform whilst scared shitless, and have no one notice is quite a feat. So, for those two major roles, one of which most of us remember him by, and one of which I remember him by Leo McKern (March 16th, 1920-July 23rd, 2002, at the age of 82), you are my (202nd) hero of the day. Happy birthday, you Aussie prick!

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