William Ian DeWitt Hutt, CCÂ OOntÂ MM (May 2, 1920 â" June 27, 2007) was a Canadian actor of stage, television and film. Hutt's distinguished career spanned more than fifty years and won him many accolades and awards. While his base throughout his career remained at the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario, he appeared on the stage in London, New York and across Canada.
Hutt was born in Toronto, Ontario, the second of three children. A graduate of Toronto's illustrious Vaughan Road Collegiate Institute (now Vaughan Road Academy), he served five years as a medic during World War II, receiving a Military Medal for "bravery in the field". After the war, he received his BA in 1948 from Trinity College at the University of Toronto, and subsequently joined the Stratford Festival of Canada for its first season in 1953.
About his early life, theatre director Richard Nielsen said, "As a young man, he was openly gay at a time when being openly gay was a very dangerous identity. He shunned violence, but he volunteered as a medic in the Second World War, and he later won the Military Medal for his services; and this I found most fascinating: he committed to a career in theatre when such a thing as the 'Canadian theatre' simply did not exist."
His distinguished acting career was centred on the Stratford Festival where he won great acclaim in many roles including those of King Lear (1988), James Tyrone in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night (1994â"1995) (a production which was subsequently filmed), and Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest (1975â"1979). He played all the great Shakespearean rolesâ"Hamlet, Lear, Falstaff, Prospero, Macbeth, and Titus Andronicus.
He appeared in film and on television in such roles as Le Moyne in the 2003 film The Statement and Sir John A. Macdonald in the Canadian television production of The National Dream, as well as in Timothy Findley's The Wars.
The role of Alton Cockridge in the movie Covergirl was written specifically for him by Charles Dennis.
In 1969 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada and in 1992 he was awarded the Order of Ontario. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario in October 1997, and in 2000 was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. Hutt was a recipient of a Governor General's Performing Arts Award in 1992. He was awarded the 1996 Sam Wanamaker Prize. One of the very few people in North America to have appeared on a postage stamp while still alive, he appeared on a stamp that celebrated the Stratford Festival's anniversary and showed him in character as Prospero.
In 2000, a bridge on Waterloo Street North that crosses the Avon River in downtown Stratford, ON, was named the "William Hutt Bridge" in his honour. The bridge lies a few metres away from the house in which Hutt had lived for many years.
Later life and death
Hutt retired from the Stratford stage in 2005 with a reprise of Prospero in The Tempest, a role for which he was renowned. He appeared in the television series Slings and Arrows as an ailing stage icon who wants to play King Lear one last time. He had planned to return to Stratford in 2007 in a production of A Delicate Balance, but had to cancel due to poor health.
Hutt, who had leukemia, died peacefully in his sleep on June 27, 2007 in Stratford, Ontario.
- "William Hutt". U or T Magazine Winter 2003. Retrieved March 28, 2005.Â
- William Hutt at the Internet Movie Database
- William Hutt at the Internet Broadway Database
- Legend Library Interview with William Hutt
- William Hutt at Northern Stars â" Canadians in the Movies
- Induction to the Canadian Walk of Fame