60 (passed away Feb. 21st, 2002)
Jan. 3rd, 1942
West Gorton, Manchester, England, UK
John Thaw's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
He was the working class boy from Manchester whose intensity and natural honesty made him British television's most bankable actor. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His first starring role on TV was as Sgt John Mann in "Redcap" (1964). His first great success, though, was as Detective Inspector Regan in "The Sweeney" (1975). Violent and uncompromising, the series changed the portrayal of police work on British television and was one of the defining dramas of the 1970s.
For "Inspector Morse" (1987), Thaw was yet again cast as a policeman, but this time a more cultured character than Regan. The leisurely-paced series, set in beautiful Oxfordshire, was Thaw's most popular and long-running project. It established him as British television's most bankable actor, and during the 1990s he had many other starring vehicles. He was also a favourite of film director Richard Attenborough, who cast him in Cry Freedom (1987) and Chaplin (1992).
John Thaw was a quiet, private man. His marriage to actress Sheila Hancock was generally regarded as one of the strongest in showbusiness. When he died at the age of 60, the BBC website was inundated with tributes from the viewing public. His "Inspector Morse" co-star Kevin Whately (I) simply described him as the country's finest screen actor.
- He performed with the National Theatre.
- Broke his foot in his teens when he tripped while running for a school bus. This left him with a slight limp that is noticeable in some scenes of the Inspector Morse series.
- His first stage role was at Green End Junior School in Manchester, England as Uncle Joseph, the leading part in "Where the Rainbow Ends" (1953).
- He performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
- His mother Dorothy (Dolly) walked out on the family when he was 7 years old. He did not see her again for 12 years when she showed up briefly back stage in a production of "The Fire Raisers." He never saw her again. She died of stomach cancer in 1974.
- Began at age 11 performing in school plays. In one of them he appeared as Mistress Quickly in "Henry V."
- (June 2001) Treated for cancer of the oesophagus. His wife, Sheila Hancock, is a breast cancer survivor.
- His most famous roles on British TV were all as straight-talking, no-nonsense characters: Jack Regan, Inspector Morse and James Kavanagh.
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