Two brilliant lives - on film and in print

DIRK BOGARDE, who died yesterday, was one of the best loved actors of screen and stage.

He was born Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven Van Den Bogaerde, in Hampstead, north London, on 28 March 1921, the son of a half-Dutch father, then picture editor of the Times, and an actress mother.

Educated at University College School in London, he was sent as a teen to live with Scottish relatives. An art school drop-out and unpromising drama student, he served during the Second World War with the Air Photographic Intelligence Unit and later admitted that the misery he witnessed during the war - in particular, a visit to Belsen the day after it was liberated - greatly influenced his later outlook on life.

A year out of uniform, his life changed dramatically: he began an acting career that saw him rapidly transformed into a matinee idol of the 1950s, one of the most popular and respected performers on both sides of the Atlantic.

During his prodigious career he made 70 feature films, ranging from the Doctor in the House series to classics like Death in Venice (1971).

Sir Dirk also played key roles in a wide spectrum of films, including the role of Dr Simon Sparrow in several of Richard Gordon's Doctor in the House medical comedies, the romantic role of Sidney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities (1958), King and Country (1965), and A Bridge Too Far. He won British Academy Awards for best actor in The Servant and Darling and occasionally appeared in stage plays, including Power Without Glory.

Later, as he entered his fifties, he enjoyed a second career as a novelist, with successful books including A Gentle Occupation, Voices in the Garden, West of Sunset, Jericho and A Period of Adjustment.

He also wrote several autobiographical books, including A Postillion Struck by Lightning, Snakes and Ladders and For The Time Being, published last year. He described them as "a six-volume ego trip" - a re-sifting of 78 years of a what was, at times, a very private life.

He was knighted in 1992. But although he was often in the public gaze, even during a 20-year spell in the south of France, friends said he was always happiest in his own company. In Backcloth, the fourth volume of his autobiography, he called himself a "hermit crab" and described his dread of "possession".

Although he documented with frankness his early sexual encounters with girls and later his adoring love for Kay Kendall and Judy Garland, he never wrote about his longest and closest relationship - with his friend and manager for more than 50 years, Tony Forwood.

Sir Dirk said the clues to his private life were in his books. "If you've got your wits about you, you will know who I am."

A place in history was not one of his priorities. He said, with customary self-deprecation: "I don't care if I am remembered or not. It doesn't matter on your gravestone, does it? I have said that in my will: no funeral, no memorial service ... just forget me."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine