Sir Ian Holm, the versatile actor known for everything from his "virtuosic" work on the stage to his unforgettable performances in such diverse films as Alien and two in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, died Friday, June 19, at 88.
His agent announced in a statement:
“It is with great sadness that the actor Sir Ian Holm CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88. He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and career ... Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.”
His death was related to Parkinson's disease.
Holm was born on September 12, 1931, in England to Scottish parents. He was drawn to acting, and by chance met Henry Baynton (1892-1951), an accomplished Shakespearian actor, who mentored him. Holm studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1949, served in the military, then became established in the theater from 1956 on.
Among his accomplishments on the stage, Holm won the 1967 Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Play for Harold Pinter's (1930-2008) The Homecoming. He recreated his performance as Lenny in a 1973 feature-film adaptation. He was said to be Pinter's favorite actor, and only returned to the stage after a 15-year gap in 1993 because Pinter had written a new work, Moonlight, and asked him to star.
On TV from 1957 and in films from 1968, he was memorable in the movies Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) and March or Die (1977), among others, but his breakthrough in the medium was as Ash the up-to-no-good android who loses his head in Alien (1979).
For Chariots of Fire (1981), which won the Oscar for Best Picture, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, winning the BAFTA.
Holm's profile in film soared in the '80s, including in Time Bandits (1981), Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984), Brazil (1985) and Dance with a Stranger (1985), and was acclaimed for his work in Big Night (1996) and the 1997 films Night Falls on Manhattan, The Fifth Element and The Sweet Hereafter.
Holm entered icon territory as Bilbo Baggins in several of the phenomenally successful and highly praised Lord of the Rings films (2001, 2003, 2012 & 2014). His final performance in any medium was as Bilbo in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).
Married four times, he is survived by his artist wife, Sophie de Stempel, who is said to have created pastel portraits of him of his final days, by his five children and by one grandson.