Childhood & Early Years
Roy Mitchell Kinnear was born on 8 January 1934 in Wigan, Lancashire. His father Roy Muir Kinnear was a Scottish dual-code international rugby union and professional rugby league footballer. His mother’s name was Annie Smith (née Durie). Apart from Roy, the couple had a daughter named Marjory.
In 1942, his father Roy Muir Kinnear died while playing a rugby union game with the RAF. Shortly after that, the family returned to their home city of Edinburgh, where Roy Mitchell was enrolled at ‘George Heriot's School’. Short, fat and also suffering from asthma, he initially had a tough time adjusting to his new settings.
Over the years, Kinnear learned to cope with his new situation and started easily deflecting bullies. He also began to take part in school plays, excelling in them. In 1944, he debuted in films, appearing in an un-credited role in the film ‘The World Owes Me a Living’.
In 1951, he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London, where he initially had to face problem due to his Scottish accent. Among his contemporaries were the future stalwarts like Albert Finney and Peter O’Toole. However, he was soon called for national service, which interrupted his education.
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Sometime in the 1950s, after completing his national service, Roy Kinnear began his acting career in a repertory theatre in Newquay, England. Later, he moved to Scotland, where he joined ‘Perth Repertory Theatre’. He also played the role of Mr. Fixit, a popular children’s character, for STV in Scotland for one year.
In 1959, he returned to England to join a theatre workshop at the ‘Theatre Royal Stratford East’. Once there, he participated in a number of productions under the direction of Joan Littlewood, such as ‘Make Me An Offer’ (1959), ‘Every Man in His Humour’ (1959) and ‘Sparrows Can’t Sing’ (1960). His performances were well-received in each of them.
In 1962, Kinnear appeared in the BBC Television production of ‘That Was The Week That Was’, which made him a household name thanks to his commendable performance. Although he was getting offered a number of film roles, he was never offered any leading roles because of his receding hairline, short and fat stature.
In 1962, he was offered his first credited role of Capt. Enderby in the movie ‘Tiara Tahiti’. It was followed in 1963 by the film version of ‘Sparrows Can’t Sing’, in which he appeared as Fred Gooding. Thereafter, he did not have to look back.
In the 1960s, he appeared in 19 films, including ‘Help!’ (1965), ‘A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum (1966), ‘How I Won the War’ (1967), ‘The Bed Sitting Room’ (1969), etc. In television, his important roles of this period were ‘The Avengers’ (1965) and Till Death Us Do Part’ (1967 - 1974).
The 1970s began for Kinnear with a role in Hammer's Dracula series movie ‘Taste the Blood of Dracula’. It was followed by 31 other films, more significant among which were ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ (1971), ‘Melody’ (1971), 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' (1972), ‘The Three Musketeers’ (1973), ‘The Four Musketeers’ (1974) and 'Juggernaut’ (1974).
Among his important television works of the 1970s were the shows like ‘Doctor at Large’, ‘Man About the House’, ‘George and Mildred’,’ The Dick Emery Show’, etc. He also guest starred in several TV productions, such as ‘The Goodies’ and ‘Ripping Yarns’. He voice-acted for the character Pipkin in the 1978 animation movie ‘Watership Down’.
In the 1980s, concurrently with appearing in films like ‘The Boys in Blue’ and sitcoms like ‘Cowboys’, Kinnear returned to theater. He performed in the play ‘The Cherry Orchard’ (1985) while simultaneously also acting as a narrator in productions like ‘Towser’ (1984) and ‘Bertha’ (1985 - 1986).
In 1987, he got his first leading role in the sitcom, ‘Hardwicke House’. Unfortunately, it was cancelled after only two episodes due to controversies. Nonetheless, he continued doing films, and his last two completed movies were: ‘A Man for All Seasons’ and 'The Princess and the Goblin'.
Family & Personal Life
Roy Kinnear married actress Carmel Crayan on 29 August 1970, and the couple had three children together. Their eldest daughter Karina was born with cerebral palsy. Their second daughter Kristi grew up to become a casting director, while their only son Rory is now a renowned actor.
On 19 September 1988, while shooting for ‘The Return of the Musketeers’ in Spain, Kinnear fell from a horse and broke his pelvis. He was immediately admitted to a hospital in Madrid, but died of heart attack the very next day. He was later interred at East Sheen Cemetery in London.