Michael Williams (actor)

Michael Leonard Williams, KSG (9 July 1935 – 11 January 2001) was an English actor who played both classical and comedy roles. Until his death, he was the husband of actress Dame Judi Dench.

Michael Williams

Born9 July 1935 (1935-07-09)
Liverpool, England
Died11 January 2001(2001-01-11) (aged 65)
Hampstead, London, England
Years active1961–1999
Judi Dench (m. 1971)
ChildrenFinty Williams

Early life and career

Born in Liverpool, Lancashire,[1] he attended St. Edward's College and worked as an insurance assessor before going into the theatre.

His first film appearance was in 1962, and he subsequently appeared frequently on television (notably in Elizabeth R), and in British films such as Educating Rita (1983) and (along with Dench) Henry V (1989). In the latter, in perhaps an irresistible casting decision, he played his namesake, the Shakespearean character named Michael Williams. In 1967, he appeared in Benefit of the Doubt, Peter Whitehead's documentary on Peter Brook's anti-Vietnam War play US, along with Brook and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

His many radio roles included crime reporter George Cragge in In the Red and its sequels, and Dr. Watson in the BBC's complete run of Sherlock Holmes adaptations.

Williams provided voices for the Woodland Animations BBC Television series Charlie Chalk, created by Ivor Wood.

Personal life

He married Judi Dench on 5 February 1971, in the same year that they co-starred in a stage production of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi. They had one daughter, Tara Cressida Williams (b. 1972), known as Finty Williams, who is also an actress.[2]

Williams chaired the British Catholic Stage Guild for a number of years before he was incapacitated by illness.

He was the President of the Roman Catholic Actors' Guild.[3]

Williams was an supporter of the project to build the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia, USA. A plaque commemorating Williams' contributions hangs in the completed playhouse.

Shortly before his death from lung cancer at the age of 65, Williams was appointed a Knight of St Gregory (KSG) by Pope John Paul II for his contribution to Catholic life in Britain. The honour was officially bestowed upon him at home on 10 January 2001. He died the next day.[4]


Film roles

1962The Trial of Joan of ArcEnglishmanUncredited
1968Tell Me LiesGuestDocumentary
1969Tintin and the Temple of the SunTintinVoice, Uncredited
1972Eagle in a CageBarry O'Meara
1974Dead CertSandy Mason
1982EnigmaHirsch, Limmer's Assistant
1983Educating RitaBrian
1989Henry VWilliams
1999Tea with MussoliniBritish Consul

Television roles

1962Z-CarsNorbert Nuttall1 episode
1971Elizabeth RFrançois, Duke of Anjou and Alençon1 episode
1975The Hanged ManAlan Crowe8 episodes
1980Love in a Cold ClimateDavey Warbeck8 episodes
1981–1984A Fine RomanceMike Selway26 episodes
1988Double FirstNorman 'N.V.' Standish7 episdoes
1993–1994Conjugal RitesBarry Masefield13 episodes
1993-1995September SongBilly Balsam20 episodes
1996Kavanagh QCDCI Knowland1 episode
1997A Dance to the Music of TimeTed Jeavons2 episodes
1999The Magical Legend of the LeprechaunsFather Daley2 episodes, (final appearance)

Radio roles

1973The War Between Men and Womenreader
1989–1998 Sherlock Holmes Dr. Watson
1995–1996 Change at Oglethorpe Rocket
1995–1999 The George Cragge series George Cragge
1997Mansfield ParkSir Thomas Bertram
1998–1999 Old Dog and Partridge Jack

Stage appearances

Principal stage appearances; mostly with the Royal Shakespeare Company:[5]

Also appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Theatre-Go-Round Festival, Round House Theatre, London, 1970.[6]


  1. Prior to 1 April 1974, Liverpool was in Lancashire; Merseyside did yet not exist
  2. My grandson was a big surprise – The Daily Telegraph
  3. "Michael Williams: End of the fine romance". BBC. 16 January 2001. Retrieved 13 September 2010. A devout Catholic, Michael Williams was a former President of the Roman Catholic Actors' Guild.
  4. Williams awarded Papal knighthoodThe Independent]
  5. Stage career - The Stage
  6. Film References
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