28 March 2014

Jerome Willis (1928 - 2014)

Jerome Willis as Fairfax in Winstanley (1975).

I was sad to hear of the death of the actor Jerome Willis, who passed away in January. Willis was the only professional actor to appear in Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo's Winstanley (1975), where he played Thomas Fairfax, a role he described as a "labour of love" ...

After brief stints as a disc jockey and newsreader, Willis returned after this National Service to train at the Old Vic and established himself as a respected Shakespearean actor. The experience of working on Winstanley, as the Guardian obit explains, "had a deep and lasting appeal for him, confirming his belief in the Quaker movement, which he was to join as a consequence."

He appeared in Orlando, with Tilda Swinton, in 1992 and continued working in television until 2007. In 2002, the cast and crew of Michael Boyd's production of The Tempest gave him a surprise party with a cake in the form of an Elizabethan ship to celebrate fifty years of performing at Stratford-upon-Avon.

Guardian obituary 26.01.14

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