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Sir Dirk Bogarde (1921-1999)

Dirk Bogarde was born Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven Van den Bogaerde in Hampstead,England on March 28,1921 to Ulric Jules and Margaret (Niven)Van den Bogaerde.His half-Dutch father was the art director for the London Times and his mother,who was of Scottish and Spanish ancestry,was a former actress.Young Derek spent much of his childhood on his family's country estate and has referred to his early years as"a marvelous time".At the age of twelve Derek entered the Chelsea School of Art in London.Four years later he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art. Young Van den Bogaerde then worked as a commercial artist.He appeared in small theater groups and as an extra in a 1939 British film.After serving in the military during WWII,The young man now renamed Dirk Bogarde began to pursue acting seriously.After appearing in the play Power Without Glory ,The handsome young actor was signed to a long term contract with Rank Studios.After performing in a number of films,Bogarde received great reviews for his performance in Hunted (1952),a well paced,atmospheric thriller.Bogarde became an international Matinee Idol when he appeared as Simon Sparrow in Doctor in the House (1953).Suddenly, the 32 year old actor was the pin up boy for teenage girls through out Britain. A series of whimsical 'Doctor' films starring Bogarde was the predictable result of this mania.Despite this,Bogarde managed to give outstanding performances in increasingly superior films.By 1957 Bogarde was voted the year's best actor by Picturegoer magazine.His reputation as a fine film actor was enhanced further by strong portrayals in films such as A Tale of Two Cities (1958) and,The Hollywood produced Song Without End (1960).In 1961 Bogarde took a tremendous risk when he played a bisexual barrister who falls prey to blackmail in Victim.Bogarde received the best reviews of his career up until that time for his sensitive highly nuanced performance.Following Simon Sparrow's swan song Doctor in Distress (1963),Bogarde was cast as Barrett in The Servant (1963).The character of Hugo Barrett was unlike any role Bogarde had ever played.The slightly overweight,disheveled and,Hateful middle aged valet bore little resemblance to the handsome, young Dr.Simon Sparrow or even to earlier Bogarde turns as villians in The Singer Not the Song (1960) and,Damn The Defiant (1962).This was a cruelly manipulative creature depraved, and cunning.Bogarde received the British Film Academy Award for his riveting portrayal. He was second place to Rex Harrison in balloting for the New York Film Critics award for best actor in 1964.

In 1965 Bogarde scored another great success in Darling (1965).His performance as Julie Christie's exasperated lover won him a second British Academy Award as best actor.Bogarde appeared in Losey's superb King and Country (1965) as the tormented officer defending a soldier charged with desertion.The next year Bogarde again teamed with Losey in the bizzare Modesty Blaise (1966).Based on the popular comic strip this disjointed film is almost the very definition of high camp.Bogarde also appeared in the NBC television production of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit (1966).Following this Bogarde undertook a role similar to Barrett in Our Mother's House (1967).His portrayal of a ruthless man seeking to exploit seven orphaned children garnered him his best reviews since Darling.

In 1971 Bogarde collaborated with famed Italian director, Luchino Visconti, on Death in Venice.In this film Bogarde delivered an incredible performance as the aging composer obsessed with a beautiful young boy.Bogarde's intense and thoughtful portrayal would stand as his finest film role. Bogarde then starred in Night Porter(1973) as Max the Nazi War criminal lover of Charlotte Rampling.Around this time Bogarde relocated to France.During the mid 70's Bogarde continued to appear in international films such as Providence and Despair as well as writing several volumes of autobiography and works of fiction.His written works were met with the same level of critical praise as his film performances had garnered.

In the 1980s Bogarde's film work became less frequent but when he did appear,he never failed to exhibit his trademark charisma and sensitivity.He appeared in The Patricia Neal Story(1981) as her husband Roald Dahl,the famed author of childrens stories who, nursed her back from a debilitating stroke.Bogarde also starred in The Vision (1987) a minor science fiction film which, aside from Modesty Blaise is perhaps his most minor film.During this time, Dirk returned to England from France initially to be supportive to his longtime companion who was dying.It was at this time Dirk began to take an active role in the euthenasia movement in reaction to witnessing his partner's agony.Bogarde's passion regarding this issue never faltered and he remained a vocal and,visible proponent of this for the rest of his life.Following his partner's passing Bogarde concentrated the vast majority of his energy on the euthenasia movement in the U.K and,on his writing.His film career was seemingly at its end.Yet there was a very special film waiting to be made and one role that was as fitting a swan song for an actor possessed of unwavering magnetism and unparralelled sensitivity, as could be hoped for.

The French made Daddy Nostalgia(1990) opened to international success and almost universal acclaim.Bogarde portrayed Tommy Russell who, under the most painful of circumstances, rebuilds his relationship with his alienated daughter.The maturity and, emotional nuance of his performance was undeniable and, nothing short of astonishing.This remarkable film brought him a level of critical praise that proved he was one of the film world's finest actors.In 1992 Bogarde was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.He continued to freely pursue his many interests and passions all the while enjoying his semi retirement.He spent much of his time writing and, enjoying the company of friends and, family.

In September of 1996,Sir Dirk suffered a debilitating stroke that severely affected his mobility and,independence.Despite his major health problems,Sir Dirk continued to tend to his writing and was able to spend the majority of his time with close friends and family.In early May 1999,Sir Dirk Bogarde suffered a fatal heart attack in his London home.He was 78.

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Dirk Bogarde film credits

Books by Dirk Bogarde