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Thane Bettany
Born May 28, 1929 (1929-05-28) (age 80)

Thane Bettany (28 May 1929–) is a British actor and former dancer. He is the father of film actor Paul Bettany and father-in-law of the Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Connelly.


Early years

Thane Bettany was born in Sarawak, an independent state on the island of Borneo, which was then a British protectorate governed by the White Rajahs. Bettany had a brother called Peter and he had a stepbrother. His godmother was the American memoirist Agnes Newton Keith, author of Three Came Home. The Bettanys also knew the Rhys-Jones family from Sarawak. Years later, when both had been widowed, Howard John Bettany, Thane's father, married Margaret Patricia Newall Molesworth Rhys-Jones, who had a granddaughter born the same year (1965).[1] Thane Bettany stood godfather to the daughter of his new stepbrother: Sophie Rhys-Jones, later Countess of Wessex and wife of Prince Edward.[2] The Bettanys returned to England before the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

Dancing career

Bettany had become enamoured with ballet after seeing a ballet performance as a child. Once he left school he took the money given to him by his father to go to engineering school to study Ballet. After National Service, when he served in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm as a mechanic, he entered Sadler's Wells Ballet School (which later became the Royal Ballet School). He began dancing in musical theatre, but after an accident on stage when he broke his back he had to give up professional dance. Acting was an obvious career move, but he had a bad stammer. He went to study mime in Paris with Charles Antonetti, who helped him overcome the problem. Bettany returned to England and joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company, which would later become the Royal Shakespeare Company. He played Osric to Sir Michael Redgrave's Hamlet. In The Tempest, he was the understudy for the role of Ferdinand; he then took over the part when the play transferred to Drury Lane with Sir John Gielgud.


After a few years with the New Zealand Players he returned home and taught at Corona Stage School, where he met Anne Kettle, whom he would later marry. He moved on to Norway as the Artistic Director of the English Theatre Company there, inviting Kettle over as his stage manager. Back in England they renewed their friendship at the Lincoln Theatre Royale. They married and settled in North London, and although stage work continued to be his focus, when his children were born he looked for other work to be closer to home. Thane Bettany continued to act, mainly in television; during this period he was cast in one of his most famous roles, that of Tarak on Doctor Who, opposite Tom Baker.


The couple had three children: Sarah, actor Paul Bettany, and youngest son Matthew. Sarah and Paul initially went to school in North London. When Sarah, Paul and Matthew were 11, 9 and 2 years old, respectively, their father obtained employment as a drama teacher at the Hertfordshire all-girls boarding school, Queenswood School; the family lived on campus.[3] Thane and Anne Bettany have two grandchildren to date (as of 2009): Emaly (by daughter Sarah) and Stellan (by Paul and his wife, the American Oscar-winning actress, Jennifer Connelly). Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly reside in Brooklyn, New York.

Death of younger son & divorce

Matthew Bettany died after a fall at Queenswood when he was only eight years old, which left the family grief-stricken. Soon after, Paul Bettany left home to live on his own in London. Thane and Anne Bettany divorced in 1993 after 25 years of marriage.


Thane Bettany now lives in Fife, Scotland with his partner, Andy Clark, and continues to work regularly. He is an associate acting member of the Dundee Repertory, the St. Andrew's Byre Theatre and the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh. He remains a full-time actor, and returned to the RSC in 2007, appearing in small roles in both Shakespeare's Macbeth and Eugene Ionesco's MacBett.


Year Film Role Notes
1957 Fire Down Below    
1980 The Talisman Theodoric TV Series
Doctor Who: State of Decay Tarak TV Episode
North Sea Hijack Heyerdahl  
1985 Maelstrom Mr. Tovan TV Miniseries


External links

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