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Ben Cross Dies: ‘Chariots Of Fire’, ‘Star Trek’ & ‘First Knight’ Star Was 72

Ben Cross Dies: ‘Chariots Of Fire’, ‘Star Trek’ & ‘First Knight’ Star Was 72

By Andreas Wiseman

Andreas Wiseman

International Editor@AndreasWiseman

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VIEW ALLAugust 18, 2020 10:52am14COMMENTS

Ben Cross dead obituary
Ben CrossJon Furniss/Invision/AP

Ben Cross, the English actor best known for his portrayal of the British Olympic athlete Harold Abrahams in the 1981 Best Picture Oscar winner Chariots of Fire and as Sarek in the 2009 reboot Star Trek, died today in Vienna after a short illness. He was 72.

The veteran stage and screen star’s family confirmed the news to Deadline.

Cross was born Harry Bernard Cross in London in 1947 to a working-class family. He began acting at a young age, participating in grammar school plays, but left school to work as a window cleaner, waiter, joiner and carpenter before being accepted into London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts at age 22. He excelled at RADA and won the acting school’s prestigious Vanbrugh Prize for performance of the year. He would go on to claim a string of key stage roles and made his big-screen debut on 1977 World War II epic A Bridge Too Far.

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Chariots Of Fire
Chariots Of FireWarner Bros

Cross’ path to international stardom began in 1978 with his performance in the play Chicago, in which he played Billy Flynn, the slick lawyer of murderess Roxie Hart. His performance prompted his casting in the Brit classic Chariots of Fire, alongside actors such as Ian Charleson, Ian Holm and John Gielgud.

Based on a true story, the box office smash and four-time Oscar winner charted the story of two British track athletes — one a Jew who ran to overcome prejudice and the other a devout Christian who ran for the glory of God — who competed in the 1924 Olympics. For their acclaimed performances as fierce running rivals, Cross and co-star Charleson both won Most Promising Artist of 1981 from the Variety Club Awards.

Cross followed up Chariots of Fire with projects including 10-part BBC drama The Citadel, HBO spy film Steal The Sky, NBC miniseries Twist of Fate and the same network’s Dark Shadows revival. Among notable stage roles that decade were in John Guare’s play Lydie Breeze and opposite Charlton Heston in the revival of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.

In 1995, Cross starred as the villain Prince Malagant opposite Richard Gere, Sean Connery and Julia Ormond in Columbia Pictures action-adventure pic First Knight, and was cast as Sarek in 2009’s Star Trek, directed and produced by JJ Abrams.

Among recent performances were the CW series Pandora and 2018 action movie The Hurricane Heist and the actor wrapped his last role as Cardinal Mathews in Lionsgate horror The Devil’s Light only 10 days ago.

In post-production is Netflix romance Last Letter from Your Lover, in which Cross starred with Shailene Woodley, Felicity Jones, Joe Alwyn and Callum Turner. The actor also had been cast in development movies including Resilient 3D and Liberty.

Cross, who was married three times, is survived by his wife Deyana Boneva Cross, and his two children, Theo and Lauren.

Here is a sampling of tributes to the actor on social media:https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=AndreasWiseman&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1295782495397519361&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fdeadline.com%2F2020%2F08%2Fben-cross-dies-chariots-fire-star-trek-first-knight-actor-1203016530%2F&siteScreenName=Deadline&theme=light&widgetsVersion=223fc1c4%3A1596143124634&width=500pxhttps://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=AndreasWiseman&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-1&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1295791959743791106&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fdeadline.com%2F2020%2F08%2Fben-cross-dies-chariots-fire-star-trek-first-knight-actor-1203016530%2F&siteScreenName=Deadline&theme=light&widgetsVersion=223fc1c4%3A1596143124634&width=500pxhttps://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=AndreasWiseman&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-2&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1295796264643198976&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fdeadline.com%2F2020%2F08%2Fben-cross-dies-chariots-fire-star-trek-first-knight-actor-1203016530%2F&siteScreenName=Deadline&theme=light&widgetsVersion=223fc1c4%3A1596143124634&width=500pxhttps://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=AndreasWiseman&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-3&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1295799321921757189&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fdeadline.com%2F2020%2F08%2Fben-cross-dies-chariots-fire-star-trek-first-knight-actor-1203016530%2F&siteScreenName=Deadline&theme=light&widgetsVersion=223fc1c4%3A1596143124634&width=500px

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14 Comments

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  • AnonymousNo mention of Banshee. And under watched, gem of a show. Ben was great in all he did. Loved his Sarek as well.REPLY
  • CHRIS CHRISTIANOmg so so sad I feel as if I grew up with him this is just sadREPLY
  • WaterytorteOne of my favorite actors from the 1980s and 1900s. “The Citadel” was a fine drama. He had one of the supporting roles in “The Flame Trees of Thika.” I pretty much tried to watch everything he was in that was broadcast in my part of the world. Sometimes that meant scrounging for an unclaimed TV to park myself in front of (college kid, short on funds). And yes, I had the Jan 1985 GQ with him on the cover!RIP sir. You played both the good guys and the bad guys with aplomb. I always wanted to see you play Robin Hood. Ah well …. maybe in a heavenly production someday … with Sam Neill as the Sheriff of Nottingham.REPLY
  • AnonymousBarnabas Collins in the DARK SHADOWS reboot in the 90’s.RIPREPLY
  • Highdimension2015A Bridge Too farREPLY
  • AnonymousA very fine actor. Chariots Of Fire is a grand achievement and Ben’s performance is a great deal of it. Rest in Peace.REPLY
  • Highdimension2015Just spotted him in A Bridge Too Far.REPLY
  • AnonymousSO sad to hear this! I adored him in the Dark Shadows revival!REPLY
  • Jacqueline WalterBen Corss you will be missed. You were a awesome actor and a awesome person in general. Prayers are being sent to your family. I loved you in the show Dark Shadows 1991. 😪❤REPLY
  • AnonymousSo sorry to hear this. Loved Ben Cross in his stint playing Barnabas Collins in the 1990’s remake of Dark Shadows. RIP Mr. Cross, you will be missed.REPLY
  • AnonymousHe would go on to claim a string of key stage roles and made his big screen debut on 1976 World War II epic A Bridge Too Far.It was released in 1977.PLEASE try to do some actual journalism today.REPLY
  • Jacqueline WalterBen Cross you will be missed. You were a awesome actor and a awesome person in general. Prayers go out to your family. Loved you in Dark Shadows in 1991. 😪❤REPLY
  • CadavraNo mention of his fine performance as Barnabas Collins in NBC’s 1991 revival of DARK SHADOWS?REPLY
    • Cary CoatneyFunny, I brought that up on my facebook post. I thought that was originally a part of a segment on that short lived NBC show, Cliffhanger. Wasn’t Dan Curtis involved with that?~CoatREPLY

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