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Alan Bates was born in Allestree, Derby, Derbyshire, England in 1934. He went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and then joined the RAF. In 1956, he starred on stage in John Osborne's Look Back in Anger (and also in a British TV version) and that gained him much attention, and he did more TV plays the next few years. He had a supporting role in The Entertainer in 1960, and another in Whistle Down the Wind in 1961, and the following year he starred in A Kind of Loving, director John Schlesinger's first feature. In 1964, he starred opposite Anthony Quinn in the movie he is likely best remembered for, Alexis Zorbas (known as Zorba the Greek in the U.S.). In 1966, he made two very memorable appearances, one as an amoral rogue in Georgy Girl, and the other in Philippe de Broca's delightful cult classic Le roi de coeur (known as King of Hearts in the U.S.). He re-teamed with John Schlesinger in Far from the Madding Crowd in 1967, and the following year starred in John Frankenheimer's adaptation of Bernard Malamud's ultra-depressing novel of a wrongfully convicted Jewish man in Czarist Russia, and The Fixer (nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for this film). Bates closed out the 1960s playing one of the four leads in Ken Russell's adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love, with a strong screenplay by Larry Kramer. The movie is likely best remembered for Bates and co-star Oliver Reed having a fully nude wrestling match, but it is an excellent movie that is well worth seeing, and had great performances by Bates, Reed, Glenda Jackson, and Jennie Linden. Bates was John Schlesinger's first choice to star in his Sunday Bloody Sunday in 1971, but Bates was tied up making another movie, and the role went to Peter Finch. Bates continued regularly making movies in the 1970s and all the way to his passing in 2003 at the age of 69, but he did not equal the brilliant level of work he had turned out in the 1960s. Bates' work is also very notable for two reasons. First, he never took roles solely for the money. It seems that he only chose roles in quality productions, working with top level actors and directors, and he chose projects with excellent scripts. Second, this handsome charismatic actor could clearly have solely played starring roles from the early 1960s on, but instead he often took supporting roles, and even in the movies where he plays the lead, he often is one of several leads. I highly recommend you all seek out the work of this great actor. Not only does he shine in almost all of his roles, but the movies themselves are well worth seeing!
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