British character actor Ronald Lacey had a distinguished career in British cinema and television. Lacey's unique face -- some called his looks diabolical -- was his ticket to a number of roles as the wicked, comedic, or the weird. His appearances in American film were few but memorable, since a medical condition kept him from traveling much overseas. Health problems plagued his entire life, and he died of liver failure in 1991, but not before achieving film immortality in his role as the nefarious Nazi Toht, in Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark.
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Born in London, Lacey served in the military, and then studied drama at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. He landed his first part in the British film The Boys in 1962. Hollywood called, and he was cast in the 1964 film adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage. Thereafter, Lacey was called upon to play a variety of challenging roles, such as the village idiot in Roman Polanski's 1967 film The Fearless Vampire Killers, and a demented soldier in How I Won the War (1967). He also appeared in many BBC productions, including the starring role in the story of Dylan Thomas in 1978.
His unusual persona brought him roles in fantasy productions, on both television and the big screen. Notable among these was his characterization of the crazed President of the United States in the 1984 cult film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, and as the Bishop of Bath in British television's satire Blackadder II. He also excelled at two turns as transvestites in Trenchcoat (1982) and Invitation to the Wedding (1985).
While Lacey will always be remembered for his inimitable performance in Raiders of the Lost Ark, his legacy is being carried on by daughters Rebecca Lacey and Ingrid Lacey, who have both followed their father into the acting profession. ~ Rose of Sharon Winter, Rovi