BBC News

Actor Richard Johnson dies, aged 87


British actor Richard Johnson, whose career spanned film, theatre and TV, has died aged 87, his family has said.

Johnson made his film debut in the 1950s and featured in numerous films, alongside stars such as Frank Sinatra, Laurence Olivier and Charlton Heston.

A founder member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Johnson played several lead roles including Romeo and Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar.

He also appeared in several TV dramas such as Lewis and Silent Witness.

Johnson died after a short illness at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea, London. He is survived by his wife Lynne, who he married in 2004, and his four children.

He had been married several times and he met his second wife, American actress Kim Novak, when the pair starred in the 1965 film The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders.

image captionHe played the lead role in a BBC production of Shakespeare's Cymbeline, alongside Dame Helen Mirren

Johnson was born in Upminster, Essex, and he left his training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) to join Sir John Gielgud's company.

He joined the Royal Navy during World War Two and then made his film debut in 1959, when he appeared in the MGM film Never So Few, starring Frank Sinatra and Gina Lollobrigida.

He also appeared in The Haunting (1963) and Khartoum (1966), opposite Laurence Olivier and Charlton Heston.

His family said he was offered and turned down the role of James Bond after playing British spy Bulldog Drummond in Deadlier Than the Male (1967) and its sequel Some Girls Do (1969).

Recent film credits include The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008), Scoop (2006) and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001).