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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
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    A US actor with several UK film and TV credits...

    The Times Obituary

    William Hootkins

    July 5, 1948 - October 23, 2005

    A talented and larger-than-life actor with a gift for friendship that

    survived political arguments

    ALONGSIDE a successful career as a character actor in cinema and television

    films, William Hootkins made notable radio recordings and readings of

    well-known texts. His rendition this year of the unabridged Moby Dick in

    some 24 hours and 50 minutes was described by the critic Sue Arnold in The

    Guardian as “the most extraordinary performance I’ve ever heard”.

    Though his bulk and abundant beard made him instantly recognisable on film,

    in television or on stage, Hootkins had the ability to disappear into other

    characters in his voice work. This talent was gloriously demonstrated when

    he reinvented himself as Alfred Hitchcock in Terry Johnson’s play Hitchcock

    Blonde (2003) in London. He seemed to grow Hitchcock’s jowls and famous

    profile, and beneath his immaculate enunciation of the London-born director’

    s voice it was impossible to detect Hootkins’s own Texan origins.

    His triumph in that role should have led to a starring appearance in the

    play on Broadway this year, but at new year Hootkins had a diagnosis of

    pancreatic cancer and spent the rest of 2005 undergoing treatment.

    William Michael “Bill” Hootkins was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1948. His

    father was an oil man. He attended St Mark’s prep school in Dallas and had

    his first taste of acting in a drama group (another member of the group was

    Tommy Lee Jones). He went on to Princeton, where he studied astro-physics

    before transferring to oriental studies and becoming fluent in Mandarin

    Chinese (as well as Russian and French). He was active in the university’s

    theatre, the Intime.

    Larger than his own too short life, Hootkins the actor inhabited even the

    smallest roles with memorable invention. He appeared in Nicolas Roeg’s Bad

    Timing (1980) as a Colonel Taylor in an improbable beard, and he made a

    scene-stealing appearance in the TV series Cagney & Lacey in 1983.

    His first major Hollywood film was Star Wars (1977) in which he appeared as

    Red Six (Porkins) — he was later a favourite at gatherings of Star Wars

    fans. Roles such as Lieutenant Eckhardt in Batman (1989) brought him

    recognition in cultish circles.

    Hootkins’s physical bulk reflected his passion for food. A fine cook and a

    gregarious entertainer, he was especially knowledgeable about Chinese


    Since training at the London Academy of Dramatic Art in the early 1970s, and

    marriage to Polly Abbott in 1973, he spent many years living and working in

    Britain where he found a niche in radio drama. The scriptwriter Mike Walker

    created several substantial parts for him, including the roles of Lyndon

    Johnson, the Texan Vice-President who succeeded JFK, and J. Edgar Hoover,

    Director of the FBI.

    Hootkins’s gift for friendship survived notable political arguments. As a

    Jew he held firmly to the cause of Israel, and he and Martin Sheen had

    serious disagreements over the Palestinian cause. Nonetheless, Sheen was his

    best man at his marriage this summer to the chef Carolyn Robb, the woman who

    saw him through the ravages of his cancer treatment.

    He also had a gift for pricking pomposity that would earn him enemies. On

    meeting Val Kilmer as they set out to film the ill-fated Island of Doctor

    Moreau, he made the mistake of laughing when Kilmer said, “I am Batman”.

    Kilmer was serious and did not forgive Hootkins, who was confined to

    prosthetic anonymity among the monsters of the movie — he even appeared in

    disguise at the wrap party. The film, however, added many anecdotes to his

    repertoire, and wonderful recollections of Marlon Brando.

    New enthusiasms constantly entered his life, such as a sudden passion for

    following total solar eclipses — this made him a suspect visitor to Iran in

    1999 when thousands of other watchers were ignored.

    Hootkins is survived by his wife, Carolyn.

    William Hootkins, actor, was born on July 5, 1948. He died on October 23,

    2005, aged 57.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: UK
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    That's sad. He was a really good actor.

    I remember him in Flash Gordon where he played Monson, Dr Zarkov's cowardly assistant. That was an excellent comic turn..


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