Geoffrey Keen May 23, 2010 9:52:20 GMT 1
Post by Laurence on May 23, 2010 9:52:20 GMT 1
Best known in films as a rather glum, small-part player, Geoffrey Keen was a much underestimated character actor. He also rather underestimated himself. "Most of the stuff I do is rubbish," he would say, "but it's a very exciting thing to get a mediocre part and give it a third dimension - to make a character a real chap instead of being cardboard." This he did regularly on stage, television and in more than 100 films, including Doctor in the House (1954), Genevieve (1966), Born Free (1966) and six of the James Bond movies - in which he was the secret agent's Whitehall boss, Sir Frederick Gray, the Minister of Defence.
Why he prospered as such mildly nasty types, Keen never knew. If they were not long-faced jacks in office or outright bullies, they were austere men who looked irritable. Not many actors glowered better than Keen, or frowned to more effect. In such long-running series as The Troubleshooters and The Venturers - in which he strutted short-temperedly about boardrooms - he seized the nation's attention as never before. He wanted to be more likeable, but he rarely got the part. In Mogul and The Troubleshooters, he ran, quite ruthlessly, an oil company having trouble in the North Sea. He bossed people about with such conviction that top executives from a real oil company invited him to dinner.
In The Venturers, Keen was pleased to have a kindlier character, though he could still fume at his underlings in the merchant bank of which he was managing director. Among his other television credits were Mr Rolls and Mr Royce, Churchill and the Generals, Justice, The Atom Spies, Crown Court, The Ladykillers and Strangers.
Geoffrey Keen was born August 21 1916, and passed away on November 3 2005 aged 89
info taken from Guardian Unlimited www.guardian.co.uk