'King George' actor dies

— Sir Nigel Hawthorne, the actor known round the world as Machiavellian civil servant Sir Humphrey in the British television series "Yes, Minister," died Wednesday. He was 72.

Americans knew him better as the title monarch in "The Madness of King George."

Hawthorne died of a heart attack at his home in Hertfordshire, north of London, his agent Ken McReddie said. Hawthorne had undergone chemotherapy for cancer recently.

"He was a brilliant actor and a wonderful friend. I feel very sad and extremely cut up," McReddie said.

Born in Coventry, England, in 1929 and raised in South Africa, Hawthorne forged a theater career in Britain during the 1950s and 1960s but achieved worldwide fame as Sir Humphrey Appleby in "Yes, Minister." The satirical series about a hapless government minister outsmarted by devious civil servants was reportedly then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's favorite program.

The series and its sequel, "Yes, Prime Minister," ran from 1980 to 1987.

On the stage, Hawthorne won a Tony Award for his depiction of writer C.S. Lewis in "Shadowlands" in 1991 and an Olivier Award for best actor for his portrayal of the English monarch in "The Madness of George III" in 1992. He was nominated for a best-actor Oscar for the film adaptation, "The Madness of King George."

He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999.

Hawthorne is survived by his long-term companion, Trevor Bentham.


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