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Lasting Tribute page for BARRY FOSTER

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Perhaps best known for his role as 1970s TVdetective ‘Van der Valk’, Barry Foster will undoubtably continue to delightaudiences of both screen and stage long after his death on 11 February 2002,aged 70. The star, whose most recent performancecame alongside Nigel Havers and Roger Lloyd Pack in the West End’s ‘Art’, alsoappeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller ‘Frenzy’ and hit mercenary movie ‘TheWild Geese’. His agent, Sandy Rees, who had worked with MrFoster for more than 20 years, described him as “a great wit [who] had theclearest intelligence and enthusiasm.” Two of his children, Miranda and Joanna,followed him into the acting profession. John Barry Foster was born on 21 August1927, in Nottinghamshire, England. He spent much of his early life inMiddlesex, where he attended Southall County Grammar School and later went onto work as an organic chemist. After pursuing an interest in writing bysubmitting copy to advertising agencies, he finally won a scholarship toLondon’s Central School of Speech and Drama. There, he spent two yearstraining, before finding work on the Irish stage in Shakespearean productionsalongside such future stars as Patrick Magee and Kenneth Haigh. His London debut, in 1955’s ‘The Night ofthe Ball’, met with critical acclaim and soon led to starring roles during the1960s in a number of Broadway productions which later also transferred to LosAngeles and San Francisco. The 1970s saw Mr Foster return to Britain where, as well as further stage work, healso found himself typecast in a number of war films including ‘Dunkirk’, ‘Kingand Country’ and ‘The Battle of Britain’. Television too began to take an interest inthe stage star and, in 1972, he took what ultimately became his most famousrole as a TV detective in ITV’s hit crime series ‘Van der Valk’. Filmed inAmsterdam and based on the books by Nicolas Freeling, the show altogether ranto five series and saw Foster’s fan base rocket. Also in 1972 came Alfred Hitchcock’sthriller ‘Frenzy’, starring Mr Foster as murderous greengrocer Bob Rusk. Otherfilm roles during the 1970s included an IRA commandant in David Lean’s ‘Ryan’sDaughter’ and Elliot McQueen in the cinematic spin-off ‘Sweeney!’ Later life saw him star on screen as MajorMinnies in the award-winning Merchant-Ivory film ‘Heat and Dust’, while the BBCairwaves heralded a series of appearances as famous detective ‘SherlockHolmes’. Having most recently appeared in thelong-running West End play ‘Art’, the 70-year-old actor died of a sudden heartattack at the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford on 11 February, 2002. The ‘Van der Valk’ theme music, ‘Eye Level’written by Dutch composer Jan Stoeckhart, topped British singles charts forfour weeks in 1973. It was while studying at the Central Schoolof Speech and Drama that a young Mr Foster met the actor David Baron, better knownas playwright Harold Pinter. He would later go on to star in two of hisstage-plays, ‘The Tea Party’ and ‘The Basement’. Later life saw him lament his relatively low-key film career. “My trouble isthat I’m not big or pretty enough to be an old-fashioned screen idol,” he onceremarked. Despite his modesty, he was by all accountsan excellent jazz pianist and, while serving with the Air Force, often playedin his station’s dance band most Saturday nights.
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Viewed by: 5568 visitors. Uploaded: 17 years ago
Published in: Online.
Published from: February 11, 2002.
Home town: National
Left by Frank Wilson: 24/03/2012
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