Brian Bedford

Brian Bedford
Brian Bedford Theater Mania 2011.png
Bedford in 2011
Born (1935-02-16)16 February 1935
Died 13 January 2016(2016-01-13) (aged 80)
Alma mater Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actor and Director
Years active 1957–2015
Spouse(s) Tim MacDonald
(m. 2013)

Brian Bedford (16 February 1935 – 13 January 2016) was an English actor. He appeared on the stage and in film, and he is known for both acting in and directing Shakespeare productions. He received seven Tony nominations, the second most for a male actor behind Jason Robards, who had eight.

Bedford was often recognized as the voice of Disney's Robin Hood from the 1973 animated film of the same name, which director Byron Howard credits as a major inspiration[1] for the Academy Award-winning animated film, Zootopia.

Early life

Bedford was born in Morley, West Yorkshire, the son of Ellen (née O'Donnell) and Arthur Bedford, a postman.[2] He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London from 1952 to 1955.[3] At RADA, he was in the same class as Albert Finney, Alan Bates and Peter O'Toole.[4]


Primarily a stage actor, he was known for his English-speaking interpretations of the French playwright Molière, including Tony Award nominated performances in Tartuffe, The Molière Comedies (a double bill of the short plays The School for Husbands and The Imaginary Cuckold) and The School for Wives, for which he received the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play.[5]

He did a great deal of Shakespearean work, notably as Ariel in The Tempest opposite John Gielgud's Prospero in 1958, and at the Stratford Festival in Canada including Angelo in Measure for Measure, Malvolio in Twelfth Night and the title role in Richard III directed by Robin Phillips, and The Public Theater's New York Shakespeare Festival Shakespeare in the Park productions of As You Like It (as Jaques), and Timon of Athens (as Timon) on Broadway, with the National Actors Theatre in 1993. Bedford's additional Broadway credits include The Seven Descents of Myrtle, Private Lives, Two Shakespearean Actors, London Assurance and Jumpers.

Bedford appeared with James Garner in the 1966 film Grand Prix, and in 1967 he was a regular on the short-lived CBS series Coronet Blue. He provided the voice of the title character in the 1973 Disney film Robin Hood. In 1988 he appeared as Mr. Stone, the head of the consortium that owns Cheers, and would later appear (as a different character) in its spin-off, Frasier, in 2000.[6] In 1997 Bedford was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. Other honours include the Obie Award, the Outer Circle Critics Award, the Drama Desk Award, and the L.A. Drama Critics Award.[3]

In 2009, Bedford starred as "Lady Bracknell" in The Importance of Being Earnest, marking 27 seasons of acting and/or directing, at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada.[7][8]

He repeated the role in 2010 (in a double role as both actor and director) for the Roundabout Theatre in New York, which earned him a 2011 Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play.[9]

Personal life

Bedford shared homes in Stratford, Ontario and in Santa Barbara, California with fellow actor Tim MacDonald, his partner after 1985 and husband since 2013.[9][10]


Bedford died from cancer on 13 January 2016 in Santa Barbara, California, at the age of 80;[11] his remains were cremated.[12]

Stratford Shakespeare Festival credits as actor