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British actor, born on October 9, 1937 in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. He's a hefty, bearded guy with a gigantic booming voice and a lethal smile, and it's no fair at all that he's in so few movies.

He first gained fame back in the early 1960s, when he was a cast member on "Z Cars," a long-running police drama in England. Much later, he turned in a bravura performance as Caesar Augustus in "I, Claudius," which is still one of his best-known roles. He also appeared in "The Trojan Women," "Man of La Mancha," and "Blackadder." More recently, he was in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," the 1993 version of "Much Ado about Nothing," and the 1996 version of "Hamlet" -- he also played Boss Nass in "Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace," had the lead role in the 1999 version of "King Lear," and did voice work in "Gladiator," the Disney "Tarzan" cartoon, and a BBC cartoon called "The Big Knights."

I first became aware of Blessed when he played Exeter in Kenneth Branagh's 1989 version of "Henry V," but judging by how many people I've heard bellow "Gordon's ALIVE?!?" at one time or another, most folks know him from the goofy "Flash Gordon" movie, where he played Prince Vultan. He's my favorite kind of character actor -- the one who steals the whole movie away from the lead actors.

Favorite odd trivia: Blessed has tried to climb Mount Everest three times. One of them was being filmed, back in 1996, during a climbing season when way, way too many inexperienced climbers died trying to get up Everest.

Update: avalyn sez: "'nother cool bit about this chap: He's also climbed (successfully) Aconcagua in the Andes, and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. There was a film made of one of his Everest expeditions called "Galahad of Everest."

Research from the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) and from hollywood.com

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