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Alec Guinness was born Alec Guinness de Cuffe in London, England in 1914 (his mother was unwed, and "de Cuffe" was his mom's maiden name). After a brief career in advertising, he became a stage actor at 22, starting in John Gielgud's Hamlet as Osric. In 1938, he played the lead in Hamlet, and in 1939 he played Romeo. He played many other Shakespearean roles, and was Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations in 1939. Alec was a seaman in the Royal Navy from 1941 to 1945. After the war he did more stage work, in both secondary and lead roles, opposite the top English actors of the day. After his movie role in Great Expectations in 1946 (where he repeated his stage role), he was a memorable Fagin in Oliver Twist. In 1949, he played eight different characters in the wonderful black comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets, and he followed with a string of truly great performances, including The Lavender Hill Mob (nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for this film), The Man in the White Suit and The Ladykillers in 1955. In 1957, he played the lead in The Bridge On The River Kwai (winner of the Best Actor Academy Award for this film), in a truly amazing performance. He played important roles in several epic pictures that followed, including Lawrence of Arabia, The Fall of the Roman Empire and Doctor Zhivago. He played the role of the blind butler in the silly Murder by Death. While making Murder by Death, he read the script for George Lucas' Star Wars. He didn't want to do the movie, but Lucas badly wanted a major star, and he offered Guiness $150,000 plus 2% of profits, and Guinness agreed, and became Obi-Wan Kenobi (nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for this film), but with the stipulation his character would die before the end of the movie, so he would not have to appear in the inevitable sequels (which he actually did appear in)! In 1988, he starred in Little Dorrit (nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for this film), and he continued acting until 1996, and he passed away in 2000 at the age of 86. He is surely one of the very finest actors ever, and he left behind a truly remarkable body of work!
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