The Times – Obituary – 16th October 2010

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Simon MacCorkindale

Simon MacCorkindale

Urbane British leading man who co-starred in Death on the Nile and was a stalwart of the long-running medical drama Casualty

Simon MacCorkindale was a classically handsome, rugged and urbane English leading man who had recurring roles in the glossy US soap opera Falcon Crest (1984-86) and more recently in the long-running British medical drama series Casualty (2002-08). He appeared in more than 200 episodes.

MacCorkindale appeared in several prestigious television mini-series in the mid-1970s and got his big-screen break as part of the starry ensemble for the Agatha Christie adaptation Death on the Nile (1978). There was also speculation that he might be offered the role of James Bond. But his film career never really quite took off, and he enjoyed his greatest successes on television.

Before Falcon Crest and Casualty he was the hero of Manimal (1983), a short-lived, but fondly remembered US action series about a man who could turn himself into an animal.

He was also well known for his marriages to two leading English film actresses, firstly Fiona Fullerton, in the 1970s and early 1980s, and then Susan George, whom he married in 1984.

The son of an RAF station commander, Simon Charles Tendered MacCorkindale was born in Ely, Cambridgeshire, in 1952. He was head boy at Haileybury and Imperial Service College in Hertfordshire and intended to follow his father into the RAF, but failed the eyesight test and opted to try acting instead. He spent several years in repertory theatre and appeared in an acclaimed production of Pygmalion with Diana Rigg and Alec McCowen at the Albery Theatre in London in 1974.

On TV he had significant supporting roles in I, Claudius (1976), Jesus of Nazareth (1977) and Witt Shakespeare (1978) and he played a doctor in the drama series Within these Watts (1976-78).

In Death on the Nile he was the young charmer who ditches his fiancee Mia Farrow and marries the heiress Lois Chiles instead. They all end up cruising down the Nile; Farrow shoots MacCorkindale in the leg and then Chiles is found shot dead, necessitating the detective skills of Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov).

MacCorkindale and Michael York played the yachtsmen who discover a German plot in the film of Erskine Childers’s The Riddle of the Sands (1979). He co-starred with John Mills in a new installment of Quatermass (1979) and in the US he made guest appearances on several hit shows, including The Dukes of Hazzard (1979), Fantasy Island (1981) and Hart to Hart (1982).

Over the years his name was repeatedly linked with the role of James Bond. MacCorkindale said that he had been told by Roger Moore that he had been lined up to take over, but he did not actively pursue the role. When Moore stepped down after A View to a Kill (1985), MacCorkindale’s agent was already pursuing the role on behalf of Timothy Dalton, who got the part.

By that time his film career had dipped rather alarmingly, with The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) and Jaws 3-D (1983), though he fared better on television, particularly with Falcon Crest, on which he played Greg Reardon, a British lawyer who works for the Falcon Crest winery owner played by Jane Wyman. He also got a chance to direct on the series, but he was not alone in finding the former Mrs Reagan difficult, and it has been suggested that their uneasy relationship led to his departure.

In the TV series Counterstrike (1990-93) he played a former Scotland Yard officer who is recruited by Christopher Plummer to an unofficial anti-terrorist squad.

He and Susan George formed a production company, Amy International, which took its name from her character in Straw Dogs (1971), and they produced Stealing Heaven (1988), an adaptation of the story of Abelard and Heloi’se. He wrote and directed The House that Mary Bought, a 1995 TV mystery starring Susan George, and worked as producer on other projects. MacCorkindale and George also ran a stud farm on Exmoor.

In 2006 he was diagnosed with cancer. He had a section of colon removed and thought he was clear of the disease. He continued to work on Casualty, playing the role of consultant Harry Harper. In 2008, after leaving Casualty, he returned to the West End stage as Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music. But the cancer had spread and in November 2009 he said that it was incurable. His last television appearance was in an episode of the BBC detective series New Tricks, shown this month.

He is survived by his wife. There were no children.

Simon MacCorkindale, actor, was born on February 12,1952. He died of cancer on October 14,2010, aged 58

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