Douglas Wilmer (1920-2016)
We were saddened to hear of the death of British actor Douglas Wilmer, albeit at the grand age of 96.
For viewers of our generation, Douglas Wilmer gave one of the greatest portrayals of Sherlock Holmes in a memorable television series which began with a version of “The Speckled Band” in 1964, and continued with another twelve of the Conan Doyle stories before Peter Cushing took over the role. Nigel Stock played Dr Watson – superbly – to both actors.
Douglas Wilmer, with his hawk-like profile, was almost born to play the great detective. He looked just like every one’s imagining of Holmes. Even after all these years I can hear his voice bringing Doyle’s words off the page.
As if that was not enough, Douglas Wilmer played two other great characters in the genre; he was a memorable Nayland Smith, adversary of Dr Fu Manchu, in two film versions of Sax Rohmer’s classic tales, and played the detective Professor van Dusen in a televising of one of Jacques Futrelle’s stories in the series “The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes”.
He reprised Sherlock Holmes in the Gene Wilder’s pastiche film “The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother”, as well as recording sound versions of a number of the stories.
He was a familiar face in a number of great British films and a regular in television series such as “The Saint” and “The Avengers”, and had a considerable reputation as a stage actor.
It would be wonderful if, in tribute, the television networks reprised the Sherlock Holmes series.
Another great actor has gone from us.