Actor Richard Johnson dies aged 87

The star of screen and stage – known for his roles in The Haunting and Khartoum – passed away after a short illness

British actor Richard Johnson has died, aged 87. The star of stage and screen passed away at the Royal Marsden hospital in London following a short illness. 

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Johnson enjoyed a 60-year career in film, television and on the stage, and was a founding member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing lead roles including Romeo, Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar and Antony in Antony and Cleopatra. 

During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Navy before making his film debut in 1959 MGM film Never So Few opposite Frank Sinatra. Johnson went on to star alongside the likes of Charlton Heston (in 1963’s The Haunting) and Laurence Olivier in Khartoum (1966).

In later years he was seen in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, as well as appearing on TV screens in Lewis and Silent Witness. 

Johnson was reportedly director Terence Young’s choice to play the first James Bond after impressing as British spy Bulldog Drummond in Deadlier Than the Male in 1967. He turned down the role to avoid the lengthy contract and the part of 007 eventually went to Sean Connery.

Johnson was married four times, meeting his second wife – American actress Kim Novak (above) – when they co-starred in 1965 film The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders. He is survived by fourth wife Lynne Gurney – whom he married in 2004 – and his four children Jervis, Sorel, Jennifer and Nicholas. 

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Watch Johnson in action in the trailer for 1967 film Danger Route below: