Date of Birth: May 25th 1939
Brilliant Shakespearean actor who has made occasional forays into the film world, starting with roles in 1969's The Promise, Alfred the Great and Thank You All Very Much.
McKellen studied English literature at Cambridge University and acted in 21 undergraduate theatrical productions before performing in repertory companies and eventually gaining a reputation for his bold, emotionally powerful portrayals of characters ranging from Richard II to Napoleon to Hamlet. His film career resumed with 1981's Priest of Love (as D. H. Lawrence), The Keep (1983), Plenty, Zina (both 1985), and probably his most notable role, as Cabinet Minister John Profumo in Scandal (1989). Recently, McKellen has been very busy with projects big and small like The Ballad of Little Jo (1993, in an uncharacteristic Western frontier setting), Last Action Hero (also 1993, as Death), Six Degrees of Separation (also 1993), and The Shadow (1994).
A fervent gay rights spokesman, McKellen also played San Francisco gay activist Bill Kraus in the 1993 TV movie And the Band Played On His numerous stage credits include the world premiere of "Bent," "Amadeus" (for which he won a 1981 Tony), and his celebrated one-man show "Ian McKellen Acting Shakespeare." He was knighted in 1991.