Birthday: July 31, 1947
Died At Age: 65
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Richard Thomas Griffiths
Born in: Thornaby-on-Tees, North Riding of Yorkshire, England
Famous as: Actor
Spouse/Ex-: Heather Gibson (m. 1980)
father: Thomas Griffiths
mother: Jane Denmark
Died on: March 28, 2013
place of death: Coventry, West Midlands, England
education: Stockton & Billingham College, Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama
Who was Richard Griffiths?
Richard Griffiths was an English actor best remembered for his role in Alan Bennett’s play ‘The History Boys,’ for which he garnered numerous awards including a Drama Desk Award and a Tony Award. His portrayal of Dr. Albert Meinheimer in the comedy film ‘The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear’ was also much appreciated. Born in Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire to a steelworker and a bagger, Griffiths grew up in a dysfunctional family. His parents were both deaf and he communicated with them using sign language. Many a time, he attempted to run away from home. At the age of 15, he dropped out of school and worked briefly for the football betting company Littlewoods. Griffiths later studied drama at the Stockton & Billingham College and continued his education at Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama. One of England’s most-loved character actors, Richard Griffiths died in 2013.
Childhood & Early Life
Richard Griffiths was born on 31 July 1947 in Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire, England. His mother Jane was a bagger, while his father Thomas was a steelworker. He had a brother named John.
Both of his parents were deaf and Griffiths communicated with them via sign language. He attended Our Lady & St Bede School. However, he dropped out at the age of 15 to start working as a porter. He was later persuaded by his boss to return to school.
He took drama classes at the Stockton & Billingham College and later at Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama.
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Following his graduation, Richard Griffiths signed a deal with BBC Radio’s Radio Drama Company. During the initial phase of his career, he also worked in theatres, most notably in the plays ‘Measure for Measure’, ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’, ‘Henry VIII’ and ‘Love's Labour's Lost’.
In 1975, the actor had a role in the film ‘It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet’. This was followed by his roles in the movies ‘Chariots of Fire’ and ‘The French Lieutenant's Woman’.
Griffiths next starred as the English journalist Collins in the Academy Award-winning flick ‘Gandhi’. The movie, released in 1982, was based on the life of the Indian leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. That year, he was also cast as Henry Jay in the miniseries ‘Bird of Prey’.
Following a role in the black comedy film ‘Withnail and I’ in 1987, Griffiths joined the cast of the series ‘A Kind of Living’ as Trevor Beasley.
In 1991, he played Dr. Albert S. Meinheimer in the comedy film ‘The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear’. Three years later, he began playing a voice role in the series ‘The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends’.
The actor had a voice role in the animated series ‘Archibald the Koala’ in 1998-2000. In 2001, he was cast as Vernon Dursley in the first instalment of the Harry Potter film series titled ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone’.
Griffiths later reprised his role of Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter film sequels ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’, ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ which were released in 2002, 2004 and 2007, respectively.
In 2008, he featured in the TV movie ‘A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa’. That year, he also starred as Barry Nottingham in the fantasy comedy flick ‘Bedtime Stories’.
In 2004, Richard Griffiths played Hector in Alan Bennett’s play ‘The History Boys’ which premiered at London’s National Royal National Theatre. The play won several awards, including a Laurence Olivier Award and a Tony Award. Griffiths’ performance earned him numerous accolades, such as an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama Desk trophy, a Laurence Olivier Award and a Tony award.
Family & Personal Life
In 1973, Richard Griffiths met Heather Gibson. The couple married in 1980 and had no children.
The actor earned an honorary degree from the Teesside University in 2006. Two years later, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
On 28 March 2013, Griffiths died at a hospital due to complications following heart surgery.