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James Hazeldine, 55; Actor Won Praise for 'Iceman' Role

December 21, 2002|From Staff and Wire Reports

James Hazeldine, who captured New York theater critics' attention three years ago as Harry Hope in "The Iceman Cometh" by Eugene O'Neill, died Wednesday in London. He was 55. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Actor Kevin Spacey, who played Hickey in the production, said Thursday that "James Hazeldine was one of the great actors of his generation." He said that to see Hazeldine on stage as the proprietor of the saloon where the play is set "was like watching a nightly tribute to the acting profession."

"I will forever recall with warmth in my heart this wonderful man who led our company, as Harry led his bar, like a man who was in on his own joke," Spacey said.

In a stage career that was based in London starting in the 1970s, Hazeldine appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company as Troilus in "Troilus and Cressida" and as Alcibiades in "Timon of Athens." This month at London's Royal National Theatre, he was cast as Sigmund Freud, opposite Ralph Fiennes as Carl Jung, in "The Talking Cure," a new play by Christopher Hampton. Hazeldine became ill during previews.

"It is rare that great charismatic talent and selfless, warm generosity are found in the same person, but this was so with Jimmy Hazeldine," said Trevor Nunn, director of the Royal National Theatre in an interview with Associated Press this week.

In recent years, Hazeldine was a regular on "London's Burning," a British TV series about firefighters that aired from 1988 to 1994. He made guest appearances on several episodes of the "Mystery" series, including "Inspector Morse" and "Sherlock Holmes," that aired on PBS.

He had roles in several Hollywood films, including "Nicholas and Alexandra" in 1971 and "The Ruling Class" in 1972.

He is survived by his wife, Rebecca, and two children.

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