Acclaimed Actor Dead at Age 77

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Alan John Scarfe, the distinguished British-Canadian actor celebrated for commanding performances in theater and film, died at 77. Scarfe passed away from colon cancer on April 28, 2024 at his residence in Longueuil, Quebec, Canada, as announced by his family.

Scarfe’s career spanned over five decades, encompassing an impressive range of roles that showcased his classical training and remarkable talent. Born on June 8, 1946, in Harpenden, England, he moved to Vancouver with his family at a young age. His parents, Gladys and Neville, were university professors who instilled in him a love for the arts.

After completing his studies at Lord Byng Secondary School in Vancouver, Scarfe followed his passion for acting by attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art from 1964 to 1966. His early years were marked by a commitment to the theater. He performed in numerous classic plays across Europe and North America, including eight seasons at the Stratford Festival and two at the Shaw Festival in Ontario. He aspired to be a great classical actor in the tradition of legendary figures like Burbage and Olivier.

Scarfe’s transition to film and television was marked by notable performances in the early 1990s. He gained recognition for his roles as villains in “Double Impact” (1991) and “Lethal Weapon III” (1992). His portrayal of Nigel Griffith in “Double Impact,” where he battled Jean-Claude Van Damme’s dual characters, and his role as the underhanded Internal Affairs chief Herman Walters in “Lethal Weapon III,” showcased his ability to bring complexity to antagonistic characters.

In addition to his film work, Scarfe significantly impacted television. He starred as Dr. Bradley Talmadge in the UPN sci-fi series “Seven Days,” which ran for three seasons from 1998 to 2001. His performances in iconic science fiction series, including “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek: Voyager,” further cemented his legacy. 

Scarfe’s knack for portraying alien characters with commanding stage presence was clear in his 2007 interview, where he noted, “These roles demand a certain magnitude and intensity. Mumbling isn’t an option when you’re playing a Klingon.”

Scarfe’s contributions to the arts were recognized with numerous awards throughout his career. He received the Vancouver Film Critics Circle honorary award for lifetime achievement, the 1985 Genie Award, a 2005 Jessie Award, and a 2006 Austin Fantastic Fest Jury Prize.

In addition to his acting, Scarfe was also an accomplished author. His literary works include “The Revelation of Jack the Ripper,” published in 2017, and “The Carnivore Trilogy,” consisting of “The Vampires of Juarez,” “The Demons of 9/11,” and “The Mask of the Holy Spirit,” which he wrote under the pen name Clanash Farjeon. These novels added another dimension to his artistic legacy, showcasing his talent as a storyteller.

Scarfe’s personal life was marked by his marriage to actress Barbara March, who played Lursa, one of the villainous Duras sisters, on three Star Trek series. They met at the Stratford Festival and were married from 1979 until her death from cancer in August 2019. His first wife was actress Sara Botsford.

Scarfe leaves behind his son, Jonathan Scarfe, recognized for his roles in “ER” and “Van Helsing,” and his daughter, Tosia, a musician and composer. Tosia’s husband, Austin, who looked after Scarfe until his passing, also survives him, along with his grandchildren, Kai and Hunter. His brother, Colin, is another surviving family member.

Scarfe once remarked on his career, “I aspired to be a great classical actor in the tradition of Burbage, Garrick, Kean, Booth, and Olivier. When I started 45 years ago, having such romantic and idealistic ambitions was still possible.”

Scarfe’s legacy as a versatile and dedicated actor will be remembered by fans and colleagues alike. His ability to bring depth and intensity to his roles, whether on stage or screen, has left an indelible mark on the entertainment world.

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