So I don’t normally write obituaries, but then one of Britain’s most underrated characters actors, Freddie Jones passed away on Tuesday after a short illness aged 91, and I had to write something.
I guess I was also fed up with seeing headlines such as “Emmerdale actor dies” when to me his years as the roguish and eccentric Sandy Thomas on the British soap were nothing more than a minor acting epilogue to his life as an accomplished actor of film, theatre and television.
I was first aware of his talents when he superbly brought to life the part of an abusive freak show owner in John Lynch’s masterful The Elephant Man (a role he almost turned down) in 1980. He went on to star in two more Lynch films, Dune and Wild at Heart and even took the central role in Federico Fellini’s And the Ship Sails On (pictured above) where he plays an intermittently drunk journalist who is covering a voyage to scatter the ashes of dead opera singer.
He also starred in the sci-fi film Krull and the action thriller Firefox alongside Clint Eastwood. As well as his many other roles in film and TV, Jones’s most acclaimed stage role was as Wolfit in Ronald Harwood’s The Dresser (1980). He is survived by his wife Jennifer and three sons, including Toby Jones, also an outstanding character actor. Stuart B
Frederick Charles Jones, born 12 September 1927 – died 9 July 2019