Actor Frank Finlay dies aged 89

image captionFrank Finlay starred in the BBC TV drama Station Jim in 2001.

Mark Gatiss, Sir Roger Moore and Alexander Armstrong are among those who have paid tribute to actor Frank Finlay, who has died aged 89.

Finlay, a star of the Three Musketeer films, earned an Oscar nomination for his role as Iago opposite Laurence Olivier in Othello in 1965.

On TV, Finlay made a name for himself in 1971's Casanova, cementing his reputation in Bouquet of Barbed Wire.

Gatiss praised him for his "wonderfully fiery presence on stage and screen".

The Lancashire-born actor's death was announced on his website on Saturday.

The message read: "We are very saddened to announce that Frank died today 30 January 2016 at home surrounded by his family. He was a fine actor and will be very much missed by his friends and family."

The family said he had been "renowned for his kindness and generosity" and his death was an "inestimable loss to the acting world".

Finlay died at home in Weybridge, Surrey, from heart failure after a short illness.

image captionFinlay established his reputation as a talented young actor with brooding good looks in Casanova

Following his success in the mini-series Casanova, Finlay became an established star with his role in Richard Lester's big screen adaptation of The Three Musketeers.

In the 1973 film, he played Porthos alongside major stars of the day such as Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain and Michael York, in a cast that also included Christopher Lee and Raquel Welch.

He returned to the role in 1974's The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge - and again in 1989's The Return of the Musketeers.

An accomplished stage actor, Finlay landed his first professional role in Scotland in 1951.

He won a scholarship to London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but did not take his first role in the West End until he was 31.

Following a series of acclaimed performances in various plays, he was invited to join Laurence Olivier's National Theatre Company. He starred opposite the legendary actor in Othello, and then reprised the role on the big screen in 1965.

image captionFinlay was a guest star in Black Adder episode The Witchsmeller Pursuivant in 1983
image captionAmong his final TV roles was Anhora in the BBC's Merlin series in 2008

Sir Roger Moore, with whom Finlay starred in the 1978 film The Wild Geese - alongside Richard Burton and Richard Harris - called him "a great co-star" as he paid tribute on Twitter.

Sherlock star Mark Gatiss wrote: "Bouquets to the great Frank Finlay. Musketeer, vampire hunter, green-eyed Iago. A wonderfully fiery presence on stage and screen. RIP."

Singer David Essex tweeted: "So sorry that dear Frank Finlay passed away yesterday. He was a wonderful actor and a gentleman. As Bligh in Mutiny he was inspiring RIP."

Finlay was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1984 New Year's Honours List.

Among his final films was Roman Polanski's 2002 film The Pianist with Adrien Brody, but he continued to perform widely on television until 2009, including a recurring role alongside Alexander Armstrong in Life Begins in 2006.

'A sad, sad day'

"Oh Lord, and Frank Finlay too," tweeted Armstrong, referring to the earlier announcement of the death of Sir Terry Wogan.

"My father-in-law in Life Begins, an astonishing actor and wonderful man. What a sad, sad day."

John Challis, who played Boycie in Only Fools and Horses, recalled "happy times" together with Finlay while touring the country's theatres in Laughter on the 23rd Floor.

Loose Women star Sherrie Hewson tweeted: "So very sad! The wonderful actor Frank Finlay has died! Amazing talent will always be remembered."

Actor Colin Baker tweeted: "Very sad to hear we have lost the lovely, gentle, talented Frank Finlay. And now Sir Terry. Too many greats leaving us."

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