With his lean, tough, chiseled face, sallow complexion, and dark brow, Liverpudlian character actor Tom Bell consistently found himself at the mercy of producers eager to cast him as shady, sinister types - an image he never quite outgrew. Born August 2, 1933 in one of the seedier outlying areas of London, and shuttled north to Morecambe during World War II, Bell participated in drama during secondary school, then received his formal training as a thesp at the Bradford Civic Theatre, alongside Billie Whitelaw (The Omen) and Robert Stephens (The Bonfire of the Vanities). He performed in regional repertory stage productions for a term, then took his initial television bow in 1959, in episodes of Armchair Theatre and on an episode of the popular American series The Virginian.
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Bell then fell in with the 'kitchen sink' school of filmmakers, such as Bryan Forbes, Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz, who at the time were single-handedly defining the British New Wave with the 'Angry Young Man' movement. Bell appeared in several of the more noteworthy cinematic productions during this time, including The Kitchen (1960), The Concrete Jungle (1960), and The L-Shaped Room (1962). He left a particularly memorable impression in the latter, as Toby, the prospective suitor of Leslie Caron's Jane Fosset -- a man who turns from a sympathetic emotional anchor into a complete bastard when he discovers that Caron's character is pregnant with another fellow's baby. Bell appeared in well over forty-five additional films throughout the sixties, seventies, and eighties. After The L-Shaped Room, his two highest-profiled turns were probably the role of Adolf Eichmann in the 1978 TV miniseries Holocaust, and the Eric in David Leland's Wish You Were Here, a sleazy suitor who gleefully defiles Emily Lloyd's flirtatious sixteen-year-old Lynda.
Bell teamed up with former schoolmate Whitelaw in Peter Medak's The Krays (1990), as a low-level gangster knifed to death at the hands of thug Reginald Kray (Ronald Kemp). A year later, he portrayed Antonio in Peter Greenaway's revisionist Shakespeare outing Prospero's Books. He played Henry Harding, an MP of Parliament who hires a computer hacker to break into London's S&M underground, in Stuart Urban's Preaching to the Perverted (1997).
Tom Bell died on October 5, 2006, in Brighton, East Sussex, England, of unspecified causes, just two months after his seventy-third birthday. His ex-wife was actress Lois Dane, with whom he had a son. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi