Wednesday, July 24, 2002
London Leo McKern, the Australian actor who gained fame as a curmudgeonly barrister in "Rumpole of the Bailey," died Tuesday at the age of 82, his agent said.
McKern, who had been ill for some time, died at a nursing home near his home in Bath in western England, said his agent, Richard Hatton.
McKern starred as Horace Rumpole in 44 episodes between 1975 and 1992, playing a crafty lawyer giving to quoting poetry, swilling "Chateau Thames Embankment" at Pomeroy's wine bar, and dueling at home with his wife, Hilda ï¿½ "she who must be obeyed."
The distinctive appearance of McKern's face was due in part to a glass left eye, the result of an accident at age 15 when he worked as an engineer's apprentice.
"Rumpole," created by British lawyer John Mortimer, won a global audience, and McKern resigned himself to the inevitable typecasting.
"With Rumpole one comes to be reconciled to the fact that it isn't half a bad thing to be stuck with," he once said.
McKern's film roles included "The Mouse That Roared" (1959), The Beatles' "Help!" (1965), "A Man for all Seasons" (1966), "Ryan's Daughter" (1970) and "The French Lieutenant's Woman" (1981).
His last film role was as a bishop in "The Story of Father Damien" in 1999. His reminiscences, "Just Resting," were published in 1983, the same year he was awarded the Order of Australia.