London: Actor Albert Finney has died at the age of 82 with his wife and son by his side sparking an outpouring of grief over the loss of one of British cinema’s ‘true greats’.
The star, who played Ebenezer Scrooge, Sir Winston Churchill and ‘Daddy’ Warbucks in Annie in a long and extraordinary career, died after a short illness.
Finney, who beat kidney cancer in 2011, had spent the past month in Britain’s top cancer hospital – the Royal Marsden in London – before succumbing to a chest infection yesterday.
A statement from a family spokesman said: ‘He passed away peacefully after a short illness with those closest to him by his side.’
He lived in the Hampshire seaside town of Emsworth and was married three times, to actresses Jane Wenham and Anouk Aimeé and finally to travel agent Pene Delmage in 2006, who has survived him with his son Simon, from his first marriage.
Actor David Morrissey was among the many stars who paid tribute to Finney on social media today and tweeted: ‘One of the true greats. A powerhouse of an actor’ while Russell Crowe, who starred with him in Ridley Scott’s ‘A Good Year, said: ‘Sad sad news. Loved our chats and your company Albert’.
Finney, a bookmaker’s son born and educated in Salford, Greater Manchester, rose to worldwide stardom after his breakthrough hit Saturday Night And Sunday Morning in 1960 – but despite being nominated for Oscars five times in his career he never won.
He was known as British cinema’s original ‘angry young man’ and starred alongside Liza Minelli, Audrey Hepburn and Julia Roberts, but considered himself anti-establishment and twice turned down honours – a CBE in 1980 and a knighthood in 2000.
He had battled health problems in recent years but survived a kidney cancer scare in 2011 – but it is not known if the disease had returned.