Geoffrey Keen (1916-2005)

Actor Geoffrey Keen died on 4th November, aged 89. Recognised for his regular role as Frederick Gray, the Minister of Defence in six consecutive James Bond films over a period of ten years – The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) to The Living Daylights (1987) – he became well-known to millions of British television viewers in the late 1960s as Brian Stead, managing director of Mogul International in the BBC’s The Troubleshooters series, later retitled Mogul. As this was one of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s favourite programmes at the time, it was perhaps inevitable that they would eventually cast Keen in one of their productions – he provided the voice for Jim Glenn, President of the New World Aircraft Corporation in Thunderbird 6 (1968).

Keen’s long career as a character actor began in 1936 with the role of Florizel in a production of The Winter’s Tale at the Old Vic. He made his screen debut seven years later in an uncredited role as a corporal in The New Lot (1943) and went on to appear in some 100 features over the next four decades, the most notable of which were The Third Man (1949), Treasure Island (1950, as Israel Hands), The Clouded Yellow (1951), Genevieve (1953), Doctor In The House (1954), A Town Like Alice (1956), Sink The Bismarck! (1960), The Angry Silence (1960), Dr Syn Alias The Scarecrow (1963), The Heroes Of Telemark (1964), Doctor Zhivago (1965), Born Free (1966), Taste The Blood Of Dracula (1970), Doomwatch(1972) and Licensed To Love And Kill (1979). On television, he was seen in episodes of The Invisible Man, Z Cars, Man Of The World, Detective, Dixon Of Dock Green, The Saint, Danger Man, The Persuaders!, Return Of The Saint, Cribb and Strangers. He also starred in the short-lived 1975 BBC drama The Venturers as Gerald Lang, the managing director of a merchant bank.

Originally published in FAB 53.