West End Dims Lights in honour of Sir Donald Sinden

It has been announced that the West End will dim its lights this evening (12 September) in tribute to the late actor Sir Donald Sinden who has passed away at the age of 90.

The tradition is performed as a mark of respect to theatre's most prestigious contributors, in the field of performance as well as behind the scenes. Marquees across London's theatre district will dim their lights for one minute at 7pm.

Sinden’s son, the actor Marc Sinden said of the news: “My father has finished dying. He suffered for a few years from prostate cancer which slowly spread. He bravely continued presenting our Sky Arts documentary series Great West End Theatres in spite of a minor stroke until it became just too difficult for him and at his insistence his illness was kept from all but the closest friends."

“Even though his death was expected, it is still a huge loss to his family and we, his brother, his son, his four grandchildren and great-grandchild will all miss his humour and knowledge and we would all like to share our appreciation for the Pilgrims Hospice and the carers that looked after him and us with such dignity, consideration and care until the end.”

Donald Sinden was a remarkable actor whose career spanned decades, and was only unemployed for a total of five weeks during his career between 1942 and 2008 which serves as testament to his respect and talent within the theatre industry.

He trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre company in 1946. One of his first notable stage roles was in 'The Heiress' at the Theatre Royal Haymarket with Ralph Richardson, directed by John Gielgud. The production ran for 19 months, and he proudly never missed a performance.

He later became an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1967. He performed regularly with the company, both in Stratford and the West End, with memorable performances including 'The Wars of the Roses' opposite Peggy Ashcroft in 1963, 'Twelfth Night' opposite Judi Dench in 1969 and again with Judi Dench and her husband Michael Williams in 1974, as Sir Harcourt Courtly in 'London Assurance' which later transferred to New York.

In 1977 he won the Evening Standard Award for Best Actor for his performance in the title role of 'King Lear' and played the title role in 'Othello', directed by Ronald Eyre in 1979 becoming the last 'blacked-up white' actor to play the role for the RSC.

He was also known for his work on TV and film, starring in the Walt Disney Productions family film 'The Island at the Top of the World'. He played alongside the late Elaine Stritch in the comedy 'Two's Company' which ran for four successful seasons.

Sinden accepted the CBE in 1979 and a Knighthood in 1997. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1966 and received the Freedom of the City of London in 1997. He was married to fellow actor Diana Mahony until her death in 2004.

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