Remembering Bob Hoskins and Gailene Stock

The month of May has begun on a sad note with the news that two great names from the world of performance have been taken from us, as actor Bob Hoskins and Royal Ballet School director Gailene Stock both passed away on Tuesday (29th April 2014) following their respective illnesses.

The beloved British actor Bob Hoskins, whose career spanned forty years, succumbed to pneumonia and died in hospital Tuesday night surrounded by his family. He was 71 years old. Born in Suffolk but raised in London, he began his acting career on the stage in 1969 and quickly progressed to television, with notable roles in such shows as On the Move and Pennies from Heaven. He went on to find great success as a film actor and won awards for his performances in British films The Long Good Friday (1980)and Mona Lisa (1986), the latter earning him a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for ‘Best Actor’. He also appeared in such other films as Brazil, Super Mario Bros. and Mermaids, as well as fronting an advertising campaign for British Telecom in which he made popular the catchphrase ‘It’s Good To Talk’. Most people though will remember him as private detective Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Captain Hook’s right-hand man Smee in Hook. I grew up with both of those films and adored them, as I did too his performance in each of them.

His last film role came as one of the seven dwarves in the 2012 film Snow White and the Huntsman, which also starred Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. It was that same year that he announced his retirement from acting after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Following the news of his death, a flood of tributes have come streaming in from fans and stars from the acting world, including a great number who had previously worked with him such as Dames Judi Dench and Helen Mirren, Timothy Spall and Mark Gatiss. His family released a statement saying they were ‘devastated by the loss of our beloved Bob’, with his daughter Rosa posting a message on her website in which she shared 11 life lessons her father had taught her and writing ‘’I loved him to the ends of the earth and he loved me back just the same’.

He gave me wonderful memories, as he did for so many others who also grew up watching him on screen, and it is a testament to his talent that he achieved so much in his career and continued to succeed as an older actor in a business which favours the young. He will be remembered as a truly talented actor, but most important, he was a loving husband and father who will be terribly missed.

Gailene StockOn the same day he left this world, so too did Gailene Stock. The Australian-born former dancer and the director of the Royal Ballet School in London’s Covent Garden lost her battle with cancer and died ‘peacefully’ at the age of 68.

She had been dancing almost all her life and overcome several life-threatening hurdles to become a highly renowned ballerina who performed in Australia and Canada over the stretch of her 16-year career. She contracted polio at the age of eight and was told she would probably never walk again, but she defied the odds and just four years later was back dancing again. A serious car accident when she was 14 put her into a 3-day coma and once again threatened her dancing career, but she recovered and walked away from that as well. She spent some time training at the Royal Ballet School in London after being awarded a scholarship there and went on to become principal dancer with the Australian Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

She retired from dancing in 1978 and took over as director of the National Theatre Ballet School in Melbourne, later moving on to director of the Australian Ballet School. In 1999, she moved to London and returned to the Royal Ballet School, the former student this time here as director of the prestigious school which flourished under her guidance. She was succeeded by Jay Jolley as acting director after being diagnosed with the brain tumour which stole her from the world too soon.

She is survived by her husband Gary Norman, former principal and ballet master at the Australian Ballet and their daughter Lisa who is also a performer and has appeared in the London production of Chicago.

Having contributed so much to the world of dance and been a force for good, her loss is one which is strongly felt by many. David McAllister, artistic director of the Australian Ballet, described her as ‘a woman of great importance’ and went on to say: ‘Her drive and passion were the inspiration for a career that touched thousands and her eye for talent and intelligence made her one of our most significant ballet exports to the world’.

The deaths of Bob Hoskins and Gailene Stock have left a hole in the performance world which can’t be filled. Two of the best in their respective areas, they many be gone but it is an undisputable certainty that they won’t be forgotten.

By Julie Robinson @missjulie25

Thursday 1st May 2014

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