Theatre star Sir Antony Sher has died of cancer, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has announced. He was 72.
A statement from the organisation said he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier this year.
His husband, Gregory Doran, the RSC’s artistic director, announced in September that he was taking a period of compassionate leave to care for Sir Antony.
We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Sir Antony Sher, Honorary Associate Artist and husband of Artistic Director, Gregory Doran.
— The RSC (@TheRSC) December 3, 2021
RSC executive director Catherine Mallyon and acting artistic director Erica Whyman said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened by this news, and our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Greg, and with Antony’s family and their friends at this devastating time.
“Antony had a long association with the RSC and a hugely celebrated career on stage and screen.
“Antony’s last production with the company was in the two-hander Kunene And The King, written by his friend and fellow South African actor, writer and activist, John Kani.”
The statement added: “Antony was deeply loved and hugely admired by so many colleagues.
“He was a ground-breaking role model for many young actors, and it is impossible to comprehend that he is no longer with us.
“We will ensure friends far and wide have the chance to share tributes and memories in the days to come.”
Sir Antony starred in a number of RSC productions, including a role in 2016 in King Lear, as well as playing Falstaff in the Henry IV plays and Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman.
Earlier landmark performances included Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, Iago in Othello, Prospero in The Tempest and the title roles in Macbeth, Tamburlaine The Great, as well as his career-defining Richard III.
Fellow actor and playwright Kani said in a tribute: “Both Tony Sher and I were born when our country, South Africa, was the worst place a child could be born let alone to be raised by parents who worked very hard to prepare their children for a difficult future – Apartheid South Africa.
“By the grace of his God and my ancestors, like Romeo and Juliet we found each other in 1973.
“We travelled together as compatriots, comrades in the struggle for a better South Africa, as fellow artists, and we both had the honour of celebrating together 25 years of South Africa’s democracy in my latest play, Kunene And The King.
“I am at peace with you my friend and myself. Exit my King. Your Brother.”
The RSC said Doran will remain on compassionate leave and is expected to return to work in 2022.