66 (passed away Jan. 15th, 1990)
Dec. 19th, 1923
Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Gordon Jackson's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Gordon Cameron Jackson was born on December 19, 1923 in Glasgow, Scotland, the youngest of five children, whose father taught painting in the city. His interest in acting began during his school-life where he took part in many amateur productions. This led to him being spotted by the BBC and work in radio shows such as 'Children's Hour' soon followed. However by the age of fifteen, he left school and went to work for Rolls-Royce. But when film producers were looking for a young Scot to take part in the film 'The Foreman Went to France', the Beeb had not forgotten Gordon (even if *he* had forgotten *them*!) and recommended him. His abilities as an actor really took off at the age of twenty with his appearance as an airman in the film 'Millions Like Us'. Although limited to his Scottish accent, his versatility in other areas saw him win myriad film and TV roles in a career spanning almost fifty years. His career was truly prolific and although not always starring in high-profile films, he was rarely out of work. His very early work also consisted of much radio work and repertory theatre in Glasgow, Worthing and Perth. He made his London stage debut in 1951, in the long-running farce 'Seagulls Over Sorrento'. Later stage roles included those of Horatio in 'Hamlet', Banquo in 'Macbeth', Ishmael in the stage production of 'Moby Dick' directed by Orson Welles (the mind boggles at this - how did they get a whale to perform on a stage?!) and a range of other parts both classical and modern. In 1949 he starred in the film 'Floodtide' alongside actress Rona Anderson whom he married in 1951. The couple had two children, Graham and Roddy. His film work remained steady throughout the fifties and sixties and amongst fellow actors such as Sir Alec Guiness he came to be highly respected. In 1969, he played Horatio in Tony Richardson's production of 'Hamlet', at the Round House, and won the Clarence Derwent Award for Best Supporting Actor. But the public didn't really "discover" him until 1971 with London Weekend Television's classic 'Upstairs Downstairs'. This was a drama series set in the 1910s and 1920s and concerned the contrast between the lives of a wealthy family (upstairs) and their servants (downstairs). He played the 'middleman' butler, Hudson. The series lasted five years and sold to dozens of countries worldwide, proving popular almost everywhere - particularly the USA. In 1974, he was awarded British Actor of the Year award and a Supporting Actor Emmy in 1975 for 'Upstairs, Downstairs'. In 1977 came the long-running 'The Professionals' - an action-based crime series where he played the tough, ruthless, wily head of a Government department called Criminal Intelligence (essentially a cross between MI6, Special Branch and the SAS). This was a complete (if temporary) change of direction for his career and he appeared to relish the challenge of playing an entirely different role. Despite the controversial depiction of violence, series was hugely successful all over the world (except America, as the TV bosses there felt it too violent). Reportedly the British Royal Family were fans of the series, and in 1979, he was awarded OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to drama. Shortly after completion of the series in 1981, he appeared in the Australian mini-series 'A Town Called Alice'. He won Australia's Logie award for this role. Yet despite his success, he claimed that he did not enjoy his own performances and never watched himself on screen - stating that he never felt very confident or comfortable in front of the camera or on stage. Throughout the remainder of the 1980s, he generally took small roles in several TV and film projects. Tragically his career was cut short when, in 1989, it was discovered he had irreversible bone cancer. The illness took its toll very quickly indeed and he passed away on 14th January 1990 leaving Rona as his widow.
- Along with future Prime Minister 'James Callaghan (II)' (qv), Jackson participated in a visit to Stalingrad organised by the Labour Party in December 1945.
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