APRIL 2, 1914-AUGUST 5, 2000
Sir Alec Guinness, the lightsaber-wielding Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars and maverick British soldier in The Bridge on the River Kwai, died Saturday in a hospital in Southern England. He was 86.
"He was one of the most talented and respected actors of his generation and brought an amazing range and versatility to his work," said Star Wars creator George Lucas.
Lucas said he cast Guinness as the Force-teaching, Luke Skywalker-mentoring Kenobi because the actor "brought a certain authority to the role. Someone who was powerful yet gentle, and that came across in Alec as a person and as an actor."
The role earned Guinness a Best Supporting Actor nomination and the adoration of a new generation of fans--something he wasn't particularly happy about. Speaking about his role as aging Jedi knight Obi-Wan (Ben) Kenobi , Guinness once told a British magazine that he had persuaded Lucas to kill off his character so he wouldn't have to say "those bloody awful lines."
Guinness is survived by his wife of 50-plus years, Merula Salaman, and their son, Matthew. Per Hollywood tradition, flowers have been placed on Guinness' Walk of Fame star.