Distinguished British stage actor, in occasional films. Despite his splendid theatrical voice and thespian mannerisms he was at his best playing ordinary chaps, though his gallery included plenty of eccentrics
Born in Cheltenham, Ralph Richardson was on stage from 1921, notably in productions at the Old Vic – in partnership with Laurence Olivier – at the Royal Court Theatre and the National Theatre, where first nights were marred by firing ‘Ralph’s Rocket’, in memory of his love of his fireworks. (He once destroyed Olivier’s dressing room with a misdirected rocket.)
In private life Richardson was as eccentric as some of the characters he played: stopped by police late at night when walking very slowly along the gutter of an Oxford street, he explained that he was taking his pet mouse for a stroll.