Douglas Wilmer, the actor who portrayed the classic role of Sherlock Holmes in the mid 60s, has died at the age of 96.
Wilmer died in a hospital in Ipswich, England on Thursday, March 31. He was suffering from pneumonia, confirmed Roger Johnson, spokesman for the Sherlock Holmes Society Of London.
Wilmer first appeared as the crafty detective in 1964 with Nigel Stock as Watson alongside him. After he left the show, he was replaced by Peter Cushing as the famous detective.
In 2012, at the end of his acting career, he made a special appearance in an episode of the BBC series as an irate old man at The Diogenes Club sharing screen-time with the modern Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch.
Apart from his role as the beloved fictional detective, Wilmer was best known as a supporting actor.
In 1973, he played Professor Van Dusen in The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, and in 1975 he returned to play the role of the detective – this time in a supporting role – in The Adventure Of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother.
Writer, producer and actor Mark Gatiss, who plays Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft, shared a photograph of himself with Wilmer.
He tweeted: “An honour to have known dear Douglas Wilmer. A Sherlock for all seasons. The work was something, the man was all. RIP”
Wilmer appeared in a number of films and TV shows. Sir Roger Moore praised the parts he played in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy and TV show The Saint, calling him “a fine actor” and “joyous” to work with.
His best film role was perhaps that of Nayland Smith in the Christopher Lee Fu Manchu series.
He also had parts in Jason And The Argonauts, the Pink Panther films, and The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad.
He trained at Rada before serving in the Royal Artillery in Africa during World War Two, and made his London stage debut in 1945. In the 1960s, he secured roles in big screen epics such as El Cid and Cleopatra.