British actor Bob Hoskins, whose roles ranged from London gangsters to FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover and who starred opposite a cast of cartoon characters in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, has died after a bout of pneumonia, his publicist said on Wednesday.
He was 71.
A statement issued on behalf of his wife Linda and his children said: “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Bob. Bob died peacefully at hospital last night surrounded by family, following a bout of pneumonia.”
Hoskins announced his retirement from acting in 2012, saying at the time that he was suffering from Parkinson's disease, an incurable muscular disorder.
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Hoskins started his career in the 1970s on British television shows such as “Thick as Thieves” and “Rock Follies of '77”.
Moving into big film roles, his turn as a mobster in 1980s “The Long Good Friday” shot him to stardom and defined his tough guy persona.
He was nominated for a best actor Oscar in 1987 for “Mona Lisa”, in which he starred opposite Sir Michael Caine and Robbie Coltrane, and won a Golden Globe award.
“He was one of the nicest and best actors I have ever worked with,” Caine said, quoted by the BBC.
The Suffolk-born actor became a staple face in the British film industry, often playing Cockney-speaking characters in both comedy and drama genres with his trademark gravelly voice.
His big Hollywood break came in 1988 when he played Eddie Valiant in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” a role for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. He then went on to play roles in 1990's “Mermaids” and 1991's “Hook.”
He portrayed Hoover in the 1995 movie “Nixon”, earning a Screen Actors Guild nomination.
In his later years he took on parts in smaller films, including a role in “Made in Dagenham” about women seeking equal pay with male workers at a car plant near London.
He also played the voice of the character Winston in the 2006 film “Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties”.
Film critic Nick James, who edits the British Film Institute's “Sight & Sound” magazine, said Hoskins was one of the most recognisable British actors in British and American films of the 1970s and 1980s.
“He's that kind of character – very, very versatile, a huge range of emotions,” James said on Sky television. “His career really spans a great period in British work and he's all over it.”