Cancer kills actor Simon at 58
CASUALTY star Simon MacCorkindale died peacefully in his wife’s arms after bravely battling cancer in secret.
Devastated actress Susan George said yesterday: “No one could have fought this disease any harder. To me, he was simply the best of everything, and I loved him with all my heart.”
The suave actor, whose wide-ranging career also took in US shows Manimal and Falcon Crest, died on Thursday night aged 58.
He only went public when his condition deteriorated and he was forced to quit his six-year role as Dr Harry Harper in the hit BBC drama Casualty in 2008.
Speaking less than 12 months ago, he said: “I didn’t want to make a fuss. We are very private people and wanted to deal with it on our own.”
His long-time pal and publicist Max Clifford said yesterday: “He was very loving and kind and they were an incredibly close couple.”
Born in Cambridge, MacCorkindale at first intended to follow his captain father into the RAF, but poor eyesight forced him to choose an alternative career.
He took drama classes and after working hard in repertory theaters, his stage career culminated in an appearance in the West End in an acclaimed production of Pygmalion with Alec McCowen and Diana Rigg in 1974. He went on to appear in TV mini-series such as I, Claudius (1976) and Jesus of Nazareth (1977). His first major film role was in Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile (1978). He moved to the United States in 1980, and found that his classic good looks were in demand, from glossy soaps such as Falcon Crest to Manimal, in which he played a crimefighter who could transform himself into a variety of animals.
He returned to the UK in 1986 and directed, wrote and produced a number of projects.
Divorced from actress Fiona Fullerton in 1982, he married Ms George, a former child actor who went on to star in some of the best known films of the 1970s, including Straw Dogs and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, Fiona Fullerton in 1984. The couple ran a stud farm together at their home on Exmoor, Devon. John Yorke, controller of BBC drama production, said: “As the male lead of Casualty for over six years we owe Simon a massive debt. He was an iconic consultant and an inspirational team leader, always welcoming and always disciplined. “Simon had an extraordinary career – Hollywood idol, film and theatre director, film producer and horse breeder.
“He bore his illness stoically, I continuing to work for as long as he was able. He will be missed massively by his many fans, and by all who worked with him.”