At first glance you might have thought the gentleman pictured above was Jeff Bezos. The gentleman, in fact, is Albert Finney, pictured with Aileen Quinn and her dog Sandy in a promotional photo for the 1982 movie musical, “Annie.” Albert played “Daddy” Warbucks, Ms. Quinn played Annie, and I regret to say I have only Sandy’s stage name, which is Sandy.
Albert Finney, sadly, passed away at age 82, on February 7 of this year. He was truly an acting icon, prominent on the stage, in television, and in film. What I find fascinating about Albert (and I am pretty sure he would want to be referred to as “Albert”) was his distain for the limelight. He shrugged off the idea that he should become a Hollywood leading man, preferring to take on character roles (what better evidence than his willingness to go bald as “Daddy” Warbucks). Albert led his personal life much the same way, enjoying his wealth; traveling widely, with a penchant for lovely ladies, good cigars and fine wines – not necessarily in that order. Ladies first, always.
It would have been easy for Albert to fall into the Hollywood trap; to become the target for gossips and paparazzi. Here he is below, in the title role of 1963’s “Tom Jones.” His portrayal of Tom led to his first of five Oscar nominations. While never a winner (and clearly he should have been), Albert decided against attending awards events, and it is worth noting, again shunning convention, that he turned down a knighthood, saying, “the Sir thing slightly perpetuates one of our diseases in England, which is snobbery.” Conrad Black, please note.
I have made a list of my 10 favourite movies of all time, and “Tom Jones” is quite near the top of the list. And Albert Finney would be one of 10 favourite actors.
Here are some of his roles – the “character” roles that he so loved. Below, as Hercule Poirot, in “Murder on the Orient Express.” Agatha Christie dubbed Albert the best of all the “Poirots.” Nominated for an Oscar, Albert decided against attending the Academy Awards, saying the he would be up and down having to take so many smoke breaks.
In the following, as Winston Churchill in the television movie, “The Gathering Storm.” He won the Emmy for Actor in a Leading Role. I can find no evidence that he attended the ceremony. In the opinions of legions of critics, Albert’s portrayal of Churchill was the best of all; impressive considering that Rod Taylor, Brendan Gleeson, Richard Burton, Bob Hoskins and Gary Oldman, among others, had the honour. And yes, Mr. Goldman won an Oscar for his version of Mr. Churchill.
One more thought about Albert and Churchill. In a previous post (January 14) I wrote about “Heaven” and having Sir Winston come to dinner. Now that Albert is firmly ensconced in Heaven, why not invite him to join in? He could do his Churchill impression for Sir Winston, share some wine, and smoke cigars. Albert is just the type of guy you would want to have for dinner. Cigars at the dinner table? Not to worry. Again, no harm can come to those smoking in Heaven.
Here he is again, starring with Julia Roberts in “Erin Brockovich.” Albert looks quite pleased with himself. Gentlemen, try to keep your eyes on Albert. Another Oscar nomination for our friend, by the way.
In his final movie role, Albert appeared as a gamekeeper in the James Bond epic, “Skyfall.” Daniel Craig, our current James Bond, said of Albert, “I’m deeply saddened by the news of Albert Finney’s passing,” he said. “The world has lost a giant.”
“Wherever Albert is now, I hope there are horses and good company.”
I wasn’t aware that Albert was a horse guy, but at least on earth he had good company. He was married three times; one of his wives being Anouk Aimee. Lovely. According to my sources (basically media gossips) he also had “relationships” (the Hollywood word for “nooky”) with “the likes of singers Joan Baez and Carly Simon, actresses Samantha Eggar, Jacqueline Bisset, Jane Asher, Jill Bennett and model Erica Creer.” Apparently he was “irresistible.”
Above is Albert as I would like to remember him. Young, but totally happy with his life to that point. And it only got better.
Oh, and what of Jeff Bezos? Very much in the news lately, as his wife has filed for divorce. Jeff, as the CEO of Amazon, is worth about $70 billion; half of which he may have to pass along to his soon to be ex-wife Mackenzie. Jeff, for all his smarts, apparently sent compromising texts and photos to his mistress, the TV anchor, Lauren Sanchez. Somehow the messages ended up in the hands of the National Enquirer. And no, Jeff is not exactly “irresistible.”