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Michael Williams
Born Michael Leonard Williams
9 July 1935 (1935-07-09)
Liverpool, England
Died 11 January 2001 (2001-01-12) (aged 65)
Hampstead, London, England
Spouse(s) Judi Dench (1971-2001)

Michael Leonard Williams (9 July 1935 – 11 January 2001) was an English actor who played both classical and a comedic roles, and the husband of Dame Judi Dench.


Early life and career

Born into an Irish Catholic family in Liverpool[citation needed], he attended St. Edward's College and worked as an insurance assessor before going into the theatre.

His first film appearance was in 1962, and he subsequently appeared frequently on television (notably in Elizabeth R), and in British films such as Educating Rita (1983) and (along with Dench) Henry V (1989). In the latter, in perhaps an irresistible casting decision, he played his namesake, the Shakespearean character named Michael Williams. In 1967 he played in Peter Whitehead's documentary Benefit of the Doubt on Peter Brook's anti-Vietnam play "US", along with Peter Brook and The Royal Shakespeare Company.

His many radio roles included crime reporter George Cragge in In the Red and its sequels, and Dr Watson in the BBC's complete run of Sherlock Holmes adaptations.

Williams provided voices for the Woodland Animations BBC Television series Charlie Chalk, created by Ivor Wood.

Private life

He married Dench in 1971, the same season that they co-starred in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi. They had one daughter, Tara Cressida Williams (b. 24 September 1972), known as "Finty Williams", who is also an actress. Williams chaired the British Catholic Stage Guild for a number of years before he was incapacitated by illness. Finty has a son, Sam.

Although Williams was a Roman Catholic[citation needed] and Dench is a Quaker, theirs was one of the most successful showbiz marriages, and they worked together on several series of the situation comedy, A Fine Romance, from 1981 onwards.

Williams served as an enthusiastic supporter of the project to build the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia. A plaque commemorating Williams' contributions hangs in the completed playhouse.

Shortly before his death from lung cancer at the age of 65, Williams was awarded a Knighthood of St. Gregory by Pope John Paul II.

Selected television roles

Year Title Role
1962 Z Cars Norbert Nuttall (1 episode)
1971 Elizabeth R François, Duke of Anjou and Alençon
1975 The Hanged Man Alan Crowe (8 episodes)
1981 to 1984 A Fine Romance Mike Selway
1988 Double First Norman 'N.V.' Standish
1993 to 1994 Conjugal Rites Barry Masefield
1997 A Dance to the Music of Time Ted Jeavons (2 episodes)
1999 The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns Father Daley
1999 Kavanagh QC DCI Knowland (1 episode)

Selected film roles

Year Title Role
1968 Tell Me Lies Guest
1972 Eagle in a Cage Barry O'Meara
1974 Dead Cert Sandy Mason
1983 Enigma Hirsch, Limmer's Assistant
1983 Educating Rita Brian
1988 Angel Voices Tommy
1989 Henry V Williams
1999 Tea with Mussolini British Consul

Stage appearances

Principal stage appearances; mostly with the Royal Shakespeare Company [1]

Also appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Theatre-Go-Round Festival, Round House Theatre, London, 1970.[2]


  1. ^ Stage career - The Stage
  2. ^ Film References

External links



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