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Brian Bedford Memorial | July 17, 2016
As published in the Stratford Beacon Herald, July 4, 2016

He has been described as “one of the defining geniuses of the Stratford Festival.”

Brian Bedford was also widely known as the voice of a cartoon fox and, to a much lesser extent, as a devotee of the Lions Pool in Stratford.

The Festival will celebrate the life of the multi-talented star on Sunday, July 17 at the theatre on Queen Street beginning at 10 a.m.

Bedford died on January 13 at the age of 80 from cancer, leaving behind his partner of 30 years and husband since 2013, Tim MacDonald, also a Festival veteran.

Scheduled to pay tributes are Graham Abbey, Antoni Cimolino, Barbara Fulton, Michelle Giroux, Martha Henry, Tom McCamus, Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock, Stephen Ouimette, Sara Topham, Scott Wentworth and Juan Chioran.

Born to a poor family in Yorkshire, England in 1936, Bedford won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where he studied alongside Peter O’Toole, Alan Bates and Albert Finney. He was a protégé of John Gielgud, who coached him as Hamlet and directed him in the acclaimed Five Finger Exercise. The two shared the stage in 1958, when Mr. Bedford played Ariel to Mr. Gielgud’s Prospero in The Tempest.

He had a dozen Broadway credits and a Best Actor Tony to his name when he made his Stratford debut in 1975. Equally adept in a Shakespearean tragedy or a Noel Coward comedy, he performed in more than 50 productions over 29 seasons and directed another 20.

The Festival has dedicated the 2016 production of Macbeth to his memory.

Though he was primarily a stage actor, Mr. Bedford could be seen on some of the day’s most popular television shows, including Cheers, Frasier and Murder, She Wrote. He starred opposite James Garner in the 1966 film Grand Prix, and was the voice of Robin Hood -- a fox -- in the Disney animated classic in 1973.

In a 2010 video encouraging people to visit Stratford, Bedford shared his five favourite things about the city. Not surprisingly, the Festival Theatre ranked number one, followed by the beauty of the city, its old houses, fine restaurants, antiques and the Lions Pool near his home, which he said, “has to be one of the best pools in the world.”

That video can be viewed at

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