Veteran actor Roger Rees died in his New York home Friday night due to a brief yet fatal battle with cancer, reports the Associated Press. Born in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, the performer was best known for his time spent on-stage in theatre where he won a Tony and Oliver awards for his title role in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby in 1982.
Rees’ was introduced to show business as a scenery painter before beginning a full-time acting career in the mid 1960’s, later working with the well-known Royal Shakespeare Company in 1967. On top of his distinguished time spent in theatre, he also became a prominent TV actor – playing in Cheers and The West Wing – and starred in various movies like The Prestige and Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights, among many others. In addition to his theatre awards, he also received an Emmy nod when the production of Nicholas Nickleby was adapted to TV.
He was a man who was dedicated to the arts on and off-stage; for four years until 2007 he ran the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Rees then received another Tony nomination in 2012 for directing Peter and the Starcatcher, a production written by his husband Rick Elice whom he had been in a relationship with since 1982.
Many other performers and celebrities alike expressed their grief across the net, with close friend Patrick Stewart tweeting:
“Brilliant actor, dear friend and colleague, witty, kind, private man, Roger Rees died this morning. A space is left that cannot be filled.”
And Kirstie Alley, Rees’ love interest in Cheers, had this to say:
He is the sweetest man in the world! Lucky to have had him as a friend and to have worked beside such greatness