Veteran character actor Michael Gough has passed away at the age of 94.
The prolific performer appeared in over 170 films and television series over the course of his career, but is probably best known for his guest appearances on popular shows like Doctor Who and The Avengers, his involvement with the classic Hammer horror films, and for playing Alfred Pennyworth in the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman movies.
Gough was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, and although a misplaced birth certificate made his exact age a mystery for the majority of his life, his wife Henrietta recently confirmed that 1916 was his birth year. He made his first film appearance in 1947′s Blanche Fury and in addition to extensive television and theater work, Gough would go on to appear in at least one film every year until 2000.
Gough made his most significant contribution to the Doctor Who mythos when he portrayed the titular role in a 1965 episode titled The Celestial Toymaker. He returned to the series again in 1982, playing an old friend of The Doctor’s in Arc of Infinity. Gough’s other connection to the show was his third wife, Anneke Wills – who played The Doctor’s companion Polly from 1966-67.
His frequent appearances in the Hammer horror films of the 60s and 70s afforded him a cult status among the genre’s fans. Some of his most notable efforts include the 1958 version of Dracula, 1960′s Horrors of the Black Museum, 1962′s The Phantom of the Opera, and 1976′s Satan’s Slave.
Fans of the Zucker/Abrahams brand of satirical humor will remember Gough’s supporting role as Dr. Paul Flammond in the 1986 comedy Top Secret! However, American audiences are probably most familiar with his performance as Bruce Wayne’s trusty butler Alfred in the Batman movies that were released from 1989 to 1997.
The leading men of the Batman franchise came and went with nearly every installment, but Gough appeared in all four films – making him one of only two actors (the other being Pat Hingle) to star in Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin.
He also played Alfred in the 1989 BBC radio drama Batman: The Lazarus Syndrome as well as the radio adaptation of Batman: Knightfall. He made his last appearance as the character in one of the OnStar commercials which used Batman characters to promote the company’s new onboard guiding system.
Gough would reunite with Batman and Batman Returns director Tim Burton for 1999′s Sleepy Hollow, 2005′s Corpse Bride, and last year’s Alice in Wonderland.
Gough is survived by his wife Henrietta, his sons Simon & Jasper, and his daughter Emma. Screen Rant offers its condolences to the family and friends of this beloved and talented performer.
RIP Michael Gough: November 23rd, 1916 – March 17th, 2011.
Source: Empire Magazine.