Robert Hardy, a veteran British stage and screen actor who played Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter movies, has died. He was 91.
His family said Hardy died Thursday after “a tremendous life: a giant career in theatre, television and film spanning more than 70 years.”
Born in 1925, Hardy served in the Royal Air Force during World War II and studied at Oxford University, where he became friends with another aspiring actor, Richard Burton.
He began his career after the war in Shakespearean roles onstage in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Between 1978 and 1990, Hardy played the eccentric veterinarian Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small, a popular TV series based on James Herriot’s books about rural life in the Yorkshire Dales.
Hardy played British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in at least half a dozen films and TV series, including the miniseries Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years and War and Remembrance. He also played U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Churchill’s wartime ally, in both British and French TV series.
In a statement, Hardy’s family said he was also “a meticulous linguist, a fine artist, a lover of music and a champion of literature, as well a highly respected historian, and a leading specialist on the longbow.”
They said he was part of the team that raised the Tudor warship the Mary Rose, which sank off England’s south coast in 1545.
“Gruff, elegant, twinkly and always dignified, he is celebrated by all who knew him and loved him, and everyone who enjoyed his work,” the family said.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling expressed her condolences over Twitter when she heard the news.
Hardy is survived by his children Paul, Justine and Emma.