Date of Birth: 29 September 1964, Islington, North London, UK
Birth Name: Terry Sue-Patt
Terry Sue-Patt was a former child actor and star of the long-running BBC children’s television drama Grange Hill, in which he played Benny Green between 1978 and 1982; he appeared in almost 30 episodes of the series which was set in a comprehensive school in the fictional London borough of Northam and became one of its best-loved characters.
The small and somewhat vulnerable-looking Benny was the first child to make an appearance in the first episode of Grange Hill when he let himself in through the school gates and was caught kicking a football against a wall by an irate caretaker. But Benny was not one of the chief trouble-makers in the show; generally his role was that of the anxious side-kick to the mischievous Tucker Jenkins (played by Todd Carty, who has since gone on to a successful acting career in adulthood). Their various scrapes were the basis of many of the storylines, and prompted, on more than one occasion, the hapless Benny to exclaim: “Flippin’ ’eck, Tucker!”
During Sue-Patt’s time with Grange Hill (created by Phil Redmond, who also wrote and produced Brookside and Hollyoaks), the series tackled the problems faced by a group of pupils growing up in the capital in the late 1970s and early 1980s with a candour hitherto unseen on children’s television. It was regarded as controversial viewing by some parents with its frank approach to issues involving bullying, racism, teenage pregnancy and drugs. Mary Whitehouse spoke out vigorously against it, deeming the series “quite unacceptable for family viewing”. The social and political messages brought it media attention, but it was the day-to-day life of the characters football in the playground, lining up for disgusting school dinners and escaping the clutches of the bullying and self-righteous PE teacher “Bullet” Baxter which attracted Grange Hill’s young viewers. They came to regard Sue-Patt and his on-screen contemporaries with almost as much affection as their own schoolmates.
Terry Sue-Patt was born on September 29 1964 in Islington, north London, one of six children of African parents. He was educated at Sir William Collins Comprehensive School, and was also a pupil at the Anna Scher Theatre School.
Terry’s early acting experience included small parts in various Children’s Film Foundation productions, and in 1978 he landed the role of Benny after being spotted by a talent scout while playing football in a park. He went on to appear in General Hospital for ATV and the BBC’s Jackanory. In 1990 he played a gunman in the Channel 4 sitcom Desmond’s, and during the 1990s he appeared in the BBC Schools programme Scene. He also played Yusef in The Firm (1989), directed by Alan Clarke.
Grange Hill aired for 30 years until 2008 when it was felt that the show had run its course.
Latterly, Sue-Patt worked as an artist and photographer and exhibited his work which was influenced by graffiti and by artists such as Basquiat, Gilbert and George and Picasso in London galleries.
In 1989 Sue-Patt’s brother, Michael, was killed in a car crash. Terry Sue-Patt was sitting in the passenger seat next to him at the time of the accident and he subsequently struggled in his recovery.
Date of Birth: 22 June 1928, White Plaines, New York, US
Birth Name: Ralph Waite
Ralph Waite worked as a social worker, Presbyterian minister, publicist and book editor before turning to acting and landing the part as patriarch of a struggling American family in the wholesome US television drama The Waltons (1972-81).
For nine series and more than 200 episodes from 1972 to 1981, as John Walton he was the quiet tower of strength bringing up a family of seven during the depression and second world war with his wife, Olivia (Michael Learned).
The barefoot Virginia hillfolk operated a sawmill on Walton's Mountain, in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. Their trials and tribulations, based on Earl Hamner Jr's autobiographical novel Spencer's Mountain, were seen through the eyes of the eldest son, John-Boy (played by Richard Thomas for most of the run, then Robert Wightman), a character who eventually realised his literary ambitions by having his first novel published. Waite's "Good night, John-Boy" closing line was a catchphrase for millions of fans of The Waltons around the world. The actor himself directed 16 episodes.
The run ended with John selling the mill to his entrepreneurial son Ben (Eric Scott) and moving with Olivia to Arizona, where she could recover from tuberculosis. The series was followed by six television specials three in 1982, A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion (1993), A Walton Wedding (1995) and A Walton Easter (1997). Waite's character was voted third in a 2004 TV Guide poll of the 50 "greatest TV dads of all time". President George Bush Sr wished in 1992 that American families could be "a lot more like the Waltons, and a lot less like the Simpsons".
Waite was born in White Plains, New York, the son of a construction engineer. He described himself as "a show-off, a dreamer, a storyteller" who was never taken to a play or concert as a child.
He served in the US Marine Corps (1946-48) and graduated from Bucknell University, Pennsylvania, in 1952, before working briefly as a social worker in Westchester County, New York.
After gaining a master's degree from Yale University Divinity School, Waite became a minister with the United Church of Christ on Fishers Island and in Garden City, New York. Dissatisfied with what he saw as hypocrisy in the church, he left to become publicity director and assistant editor of religious books at Harper & Row.
Switching to acting at the suggestion of a friend, as his marriage went downhill and his drinking increased, he trained with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio and made his professional debut as the chief of police in a 1960 New York production, The Balcony. Broadway plays followed, including Blues for Mister Charlie (1964), which Waite and the cast reprised at the Aldwych theatre in London in 1966.
After his first film appearance, alongside Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke (1967), Waite appeared in dozens of big- and small-screen roles. He played Slater, the slave ship's sadistic third mate, in the television mini-series Roots (1977) and Kevin Costner's father in the film The Bodyguard (1992).
He sobered up after realising that his life was at odds with the caring father figure he portrayed in The Waltons. He then had regular roles on television as the retired lawyer Ben Walker in The Mississippi (1982-84), a corrupt billionaire in the second series of Murder One (1996), and priests in both Carnivàle (2003-05) and Days of Our Lives (2009-13).
In 1975, Waite was founder and artistic director of the experimental Los Angeles Actors' Theater. Seven years later, he married his third wife, Linda East, an interior designer. They moved to the Coachella valley in Palm Desert, California, in 2002. With his late brother Donald and other family members, Waite opened Don and Sweet Sue's Café in Cathedral City.
Political ambitions, inspired, he said, by the example of Czech playwright Václav Havel, led the actor to run unsuccessfully for Congress as a Democrat in 1990 and twice in 1998, when he tried to take the Palm Springs, California, a seat formerly held by the singer Sonny Bono. That campaign was hampered by a commitment to complete a run in the leading role of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman for a theatre in New Jersey.
After shunning organised religion for half a century, Waite returned to it in 2010 as a minister with the liberal Spirit of the Desert Presbyterian Fellowship. He saw it as reflecting his own progressive and political views.
Date of Birth: 26 May 1946, Birkenhead, Wirral, Cheshire, UK
Birth Name: Lewis Collins
Lewis Collins was part of one of the great double acts in British television: Bodie and Doyle, the Seventies crime fighting duo in the series The Professionals.
As William Bodie, a former mercenary-turned-SAS trooper, Collins played the hardman of the team restrained, tough, yet armed with as many one-liners as lethal weapons. Alongside Ray Doyle, played by Martin Shaw, and under the uncompromising leadership of George Cowley (Gordon Jackson), his character worked for the secret government agency CI5. A fictional amalgam of MI5 and the CID, it was a below-the-radar unit set up to take the fight to nefarious criminals of every stripe from international drug dealers to terrorists.
Created by Brian Clemens, a producer who had made his name as the principal scriptwriter of The Avengers in the 1960s, The Professionals was filmed over four years (1977-81, though it continued to be aired until 1983). Yet Collins very nearly missed out on the central role of his career.
When filming began, in June 1977, Shaw was partnered by Anthony Andrews (who in 1981 would go on to find fame as Sebastian Flyte in the adaptation of Brideshead Revisited). After three days of shooting, Clemens decided that the pair did not have the required undercurrent of menace to carry off the concept.
He decided to keep the bubble-permed Shaw, who had established himself on stage at the National Theatre and elsewhere (in 1974 even playing Stanley Kowalski, the part made famous by Marlon Brando, in A Streetcar Named Desire). Casting around for a foil, Clemens thought of Collins, who had played opposite Shaw in an episode of The New Avengers. The producer remembered that the two actors had not got on well, and guessed that their tetchy relationship might develop into the abrasive on-screen pairing he was looking for.
In fact, when they met again, Shaw and Collins became friends. That chemistry carried to the screen, where though they were very different personalities their two characters are essentially devoted to one another.
A potent cocktail of violence, guns, girls and gangsters, The Professionals saw Bodie and Doyle operate in a seedy world of backstreet deals and silver Ford Capris, a mise en scène which lent their efforts an alluring sense of reality, no matter how fanciful the plot. When not disarming a Middle Eastern explosives kingpin, for example, the two were likely to be moaning about their lack of overtime pay, or their sore heads from the previous night’s boozing.
It was a mixture of glamour and grime that proved highly successful, if bruising. Collins and Shaw always did their own stunts and between them sustained three broken ankles and a fractured collarbone. Those who criticised the show for its excessive violence, like Mary Whitehouse, only added to its notoriety.
Towards the end of its run, however, all concerned accepted that the formula was becoming stale. Even so, Collins hoped that Bodie’s uncompromising persona might lead him to still greater heights. After The Professionals ended, he auditioned for the role of another secret operative: James Bond.
Lewis Collins was born on May 27 1946 at Bidston, Wirral, and left Grange Secondary School in Birkenhead to train as a hairdresser at the Andre Bernard salon in Liverpool. But in the mid-1960s he changed career to become a professional musician, and after stints with bands including The Eyes and The Georgians joined The Mojos, for whom he briefly played bass guitar.
The experience kindled an interest in the stage, and Collins enrolled at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art before going into rep. He worked at Chesterfield and Glasgow, and toured with the Prospect Theatre Company before graduating to London’s West End with stage roles in City Sugar and The Threepenny Opera.
While appearing in The Farm, directed by Lindsay Anderson at the Royal Court, Collins was noticed by television producers. His early television work included roles in popular series such as Z Cars (1974) and a recurring role as the lodger in the ITV sitcom The Cuckoo Waltz (1975-77), with Diane Keene and David Roper. Crucially, he broke with his light-hearted image to be cast as a hitman in a 1976 episode of The New Avengers with Martin Shaw — they were working together again less than a year later.
Apart from The Professionals, Collins was best known for playing the SAS officer Capt Peter Skellen in the 1982 film Who Dares Wins. He even applied to join 23 SAS – a Territorial unit – in real life, passing the entrance tests but being rejected on the grounds of his fame. As well as harbouring a lifelong interest in guns, he was trained in martial arts, including karate, and held a black belt in ju-jitsu.
Roles in other action films followed, including Code Name Wild Geese (1984), with Ernest Borgnine and Lee Van Cleef; and Kommando Leopard (1985) and The Commander (1988), both with Klaus Kinski.
His audition for Bond came in 1986. Collins had hoped to re-create the original, hard-nosed character of Ian Fleming’s books, rather than the suave Lothario portrayed by Sean Connery. “He’s not over-handsome, over-tall,” Collins noted of Bond. “He’s about my age and has got my attitudes.” The producer Cubby Broccoli, however, considered him “too aggressive” for the part.
Collins’s last British appearance was in a cameo role in The Bill in 2002. More recently he moved to Los Angeles with his wife and children. There he took a two-year break from acting and trained as a director-writer at the UCLA Film School. He also qualified as a pilot.
Early last year Collins was cast to play Earl Godwin in the historically-based film of 1066, but reportedly withdrew from the production and parted company with his agent. He had been diagnosed with cancer in 2008.
Date of Birth: 11 May 1982, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Birth Name: Cory Allan Michael Monteith
Nicknames: Cory Monteith
The Canadian actor Cory Monteith, shot to fame as the all-American student Finn Hudson in Glee, the worldwide television hit about an Ohio high-school show choir.
When the musical-comedy teen series began in 2009, Monteith was cast as Finn after submitting what he described as "a cheesy 80s music video-style version" of the REO Speedwagon power ballad Can't Fight This Feeling. Although he had no previous singing experience and his vocal performance was considered slightly weak, producers believed that Monteith displayed the naivety they were looking for in Finn, a quarterback in the fictional William McKinley High School football team and a member of its choir, New Directions.
The role made Monteith not only a global TV star, but also a lead singer in a recording act with sales of more than 50m singles and 13m albums. The Glee cast recorded covers of pop songs and musical numbers on eight soundtrack and three compilation albums. Astonishingly, taking advantage of the age of music downloads, it also hit the charts with more than 200 singles. The first, Don't Stop Believin', reached No 2 in the UK and No 4 in the US in 2009.
Finn's squeaky-clean character was in stark contrast to the teenager Monteith had himself been a decade earlier. He frequently missed school while drinking and taking drugs until family and friends persuaded him to attend a rehabilitation centre at the age of 19. He came out and returned to his old ways.
The turning-point came when Monteith stole money from a member of his family to fund his addictions. When he was caught, he was given an ultimatum: get clean or face the law. He chose to turn his life around. "I'm lucky to be alive," Monteith said two years ago. However, the actor checked back into rehab for four weeks in March.
Monteith was born in Calgary, Alberta, where his father served in Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and his mother was an interior decorator. The couple divorced when Monteith was seven and he and his older brother were raised by their mother in Victoria, British Columbia. Leaving his troubled teenage years behind, Monteith moved in with a family friend in the city of Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, and took a job as a roofer. Another friend, an acting coach, gave him free lessons. Moving to Vancouver, Monteith started auditioning for TV roles and was soon landing parts, starting in Stargate: Atlantis (2004).
As well as appearing in other popular series, such as Supernatural (2005), Smallville (2005), Stargate SG-1 (2006) and Flash Gordon (2007), on the big screen he was in two horror films, Bloody Mary (2006) and Final Destination 3 (2006), and the comedy Deck the Halls (2006). There were regular TV roles as Charlie Tanner in the first two series of the sci-fi teen drama Kyle XY (2006-07) and Gunnar, drummer in a rock band, in the short-lived MTV series Kaya (2007).
Stardom finally came with Glee, which brought Monteith a 2010 Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (shared with the cast) and parts in several films, including the role of Justin, a TV star battling with his social-activist brother, in Sisters & Brothers (2011).
Date of Birth: 16 May 1941, Sierra Leone, Africa
Birth Name: David Laurie Lyon
Nicknames: David Lyon
David Lyon was a stalwart of numerous Royal Shakespeare Company productions and became a familiar face on television in series such as The Bill, Lovejoy, Taggart, Holby City and Midsomer Murders.
Though he was a popular figure at the RSC, Lyon never got to play the Dane and most audiences would be hard-pressed to name his roles. On stage they included the Earl of Westmoreland in Henry IV parts I and II and Henry V; Capulet in Romeo and Juliet; the Duke of Albany in King Lear; Thomas Mowbray in Richard II; King Philip of France in King John; Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing; Hortensio in The Taming of the Shrew; and Dull in Love’s Labour’s Lost. On the small screen he ranged from bishops (The Inspector Linley Mysteries) to murderers (Midsomer Murders).
The principal exception to this rule was his role as Henry Collingridge, Margaret Thatcher’s decent but dithery successor whose position at No 10 is steadily undermined by his Machiavellian Chief Whip Francis Urquhart (Ian Richardson) in the 1990 BBC production of House of Cards.
The role was memorable not least because the first episode in the four-part series aired on November 18, four days before Mrs Thatcher stunned her Cabinet by announcing that she would resign as Prime Minister “as soon as a successor can be chosen”. Lyon uttered exactly the same lines, written some months earlier, in House of Cards two weeks later. He added, as Mrs Thatcher may also have done to her Cabinet colleagues, two-thirds of whom had told her she might not win if she stayed in the race: “I should like to take the opportunity of thanking you for your friendship and your loyalty at this time those who feel this description applies, of course.”
David Laurie Lyon was born on May 16 1941, the son of a diamond merchant, and grew up in Sierra Leone. He was educated at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, where he played scrum-half for the first XV. Forced to leave school aged 16 after his father was declared bankrupt, he worked for Royal Insurance in Glasgow, then as a flooring salesman in Birmingham. In his spare time he performed as an amateur actor with the Old Grammarians in Glasgow and the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham, and in the early 1970s studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
After making his professional debut in Manchester in 1975, he performed in repertory theatres around the country before joining the RSC in 1976. As well as supporting roles in Shakespeare, he also appeared in several modern plays, such as The Innocent, After Aida and Piaf.
In 1998 he married the actress Sandra Clark, whom he had first met at drama school when she was married to someone else. They spent their honeymoon touring with a production of Romeo and Juliet, in which they were playing Capulet and Lady Montagu.
Date of Birth: 19 September 1941, Milan, Italy.
Birth Name: Maria Angela Melato
Nicknames: Mariangela Melato
Melato was born in Milan and studied at the Milan Theatre Academy. A striking, blonde actress, she began her stage career in the early 1960s and rose to fame after delivering powerful performances for a number of notable Italian stage directors such as Dario Fo, Luchino Visconti and Luca Ronconi.
Her cinematic debut came in 1969 with Pupi Avati's Thomas e gli indemoniati and Melato would continue to deliver memorable performances in the 1970s and grew to become a highly respected leading lady of many acclaimed and award-winning Italian films. Her memorable early film roles include the school teacher in Nino Manfredi's comedy Between Miracles (1971) and the female leads in Elio Petri's The Working Class Goes to Heaven (1971) and Vittorio De Sica's Lo chiameremo Andrea (We'll Call Him Andrew, 1972).
Melato received much praise for her role as Giancarlo Giannini's Milanese mistress in The Seduction of Mimi (1972), directed by Lina Wertmüller. This was to be the start of a very successful working relationship with Wertmüller, who also cast Melato and Giannini as the leads in her next film, Love and Anarchy (1973), in which Melato played an anarchic prostitute. The popular duo of Melato and Giannini were then paired in a third film by Wertmüller; Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August (1974). Melato's critically acclaimed comedic performance in this film as a spoiled, unsympathetic aristocrat is one of her most internationally known roles.
For the remainder of the 1970s, Melato worked with some Europe's most renowned directors, including Claude Chabrol in Nada (1974), Elio Petri in Todo modo (1976) and Luigi Comencini in Il gatto (1978). She also worked on television; playing the role of Princess Bithiah, in the miniseries Moses the Lawgiver (1974), which was also released in a theatrical version.
After attaining international success with many of her films, Melato attempted to make a career for herself in America as well. She played one of her most famous parts with a supporting role as villainess General Kala in Flash Gordon (1980). She also played the female lead opposite Ryan O'Neal in the comedy So Fine (1981).
However, she failed to attain the same success that she had in Italy and quickly went back to her native country, where she went on to act in a number of comedies and dramas. She also reunited with Lina Wertmüller for the film Summer Night, with Greek Profile, Almond Eyes and Scent of Basil (1986) but gradually appeared in fewer films, and did more theatre roles, such as the lead in The Miracle Worker.
Date of Birth: 23 May 1960, Manchester, England, UK
Birth Name: Nigel Charnock
Nigel Charnock, the performer, director and choreographer of the DV8 Physical Theatre company
Nigel was one who gave everything he had, emotionally, intellectually and physically. Charnock's work was grounded in improvisation and frequently autobiographical, with a streak of black comedy.
He worked on the fringes of the mainstream, often creating challenging pieces that dealt with his homosexuality.
For the next six years, Nigel continued working together on DV8 projects. His unsparing performance in Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men (1990) and tragicomic character in Strange Fish (1992), subsequently captured on film, remain testimony to his extraordinary physicality and talent with text; he was touching, tragic, hilarious, honest.
Born in Manchester, Nigel studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff and then went on to train at the London School of Contemporary Dance (1981) before working with Ludus Dance company (1982-85) and Extemporary Dance Theatre (1985-86).
After leaving DV8 in 1993, he created a series of solos for himself: Human Being, Hell Bent, Original Sin, Resurrection and Frank, which all revolved around themes of love, redemption, loneliness and nihilism. These themes recurred through his life's work. He formed Nigel Charnock + Company in 1995, but continued to make pieces for other companies in Britain and abroad. At the time of his death, he was working on Ten Men for his own company, an excerpt of which premiered to great acclaim at the British Dance Edition showcase in February 2012.
There may have been an element of defensiveness in his statements, but Nigel was scathing about the elitism of contemporary dance and ballet. He disliked arty pretentiousness: "I'm more of an entertainer, I make shows, really, I make pieces, I don't make work."
He said last year in a filmed interview: "I don't take anything seriously, oh well here we go, let's do this, come on, you're not here for very long, you could get cancer tomorrow, it's only life, its really not important." But Nigel was a bundle of contradictions: he took many things seriously and railed fearlessly against religion, homophobia, bad hairstyles or whatever was topical that day.
In 2007, during a performance of his improvised solo Frank in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, he inadvertently caused a cultural furore by dancing on the Armenian and British flags. The Armenian minister for culture said: "It is unacceptable for us that someone who is considered a national treasure to Britain would bring such low-quality art to Armenia." It was reported that some audience members likened the solo to a "strip act" and felt uncomfortable because Nigel challenged their "conservative definitions of art".