Thane Bettany

Thane William Howard Hardcastle Christopher Bettany (28 May 1929 – 7 November 2015) was an English actor and dancer. He is the father of film actor Paul Bettany.

Thane Bettany
Born
Thane William Howard Hardcastle Christopher Bettany

(1929-05-28)28 May 1929
Died7 November 2015
(aged 86)[1]
OccupationActor, dancer, drama teacher
Years active1953–1985
Spouse(s)
Anne Kettle
(m. 1968; div. 1993)
Partner(s)
  • Andy Clark (1994–2015)
Children3, including Paul

Early yearsEdit

Thane Bettany was born in Sarawak, an independent state on the island of Borneo, which was then a British protectorate governed by the White Rajahs. Thane grew up with an elder brother, named Peter Bettany. His godmother was the American memoirist Agnes Newton Keith, author of Three Came Home.

The Bettanys knew the Rhys-Jones family, also British expats in Sarawak. In 1965, when both had been widowed, Howard John Bettany, Thane's father, married Margaret Rhys-Jones (née Molesworth; a descendant of Robert Molesworth, 1st Viscount Molesworth).[2] The same year, further intermingling the families, Thane Bettany stood godfather to his new stepbrother's daughter, Sophie.[3] In 1999 he was summoned by royal command to attend her wedding to Prince Edward, when she became Countess of Wessex.[4]

Dancing careerEdit

Bettany had become enamoured with ballet after seeing a performance as a child. Once he left school he took the money given to him by his father to go to engineering school to study ballet. After National Service, when he served in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm as a mechanic, he entered Sadler's Wells Ballet School (which later became the Royal Ballet School). He began dancing in musical theatre, but after an accident on stage when he broke his back he had to give up professional dance. Acting was an obvious career move, but he had a stammer. He went to study mime in Paris with Charles Antonetti, who helped him manage his stammer. Bettany returned to England and joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company, which would later become the Royal Shakespeare Company. He played Osric to Sir Michael Redgrave's Hamlet. In The Tempest, he was the understudy for the role of Ferdinand; he then took over the part when the play transferred to Drury Lane with Sir John Gielgud.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

After a few years with the New Zealand Players, he returned home and taught at Corona Stage School, where he met Anne Kettle, whom he would later marry. He moved on to Norway as the Artistic Director of the English Theatre Company there, inviting Kettle over as his stage manager. Back in England they renewed their friendship at the Lincoln Theatre Royale. They married and settled in North London, and although stage work continued to be his focus, when his children were born he looked for other work to be closer to home. He continued to act, mainly in television; during this period he was cast in one of his most famous roles, as Tarak on Doctor Who.[5]

The couple had three children: daughter Sarah, elder son Paul and younger son Matthew. Sarah and Paul initially attended school in North London. When Sarah, Paul and Matthew were 11, 9 and 2 years old, respectively, their father obtained employment as a drama teacher at the Hertfordshire all-girls boarding school, Queenswood School; the family lived on campus.[6]

Matthew Bettany died after a fall at Queenswood when he was eight. Soon after, Paul Bettany left home to live on his own in London. Thane and Anne Bettany divorced in 1993 after 25 years of marriage. Thane Bettany lived in Fife, Scotland with his partner, Andy, continuing to work regularly as an actor, including performing with Dundee Rep until his death circa November 2015.[5][7] According to Paul Bettany, following the death of Andy after a twenty-year relationship, Thane Bettany "went back into the closet" out of difficulties with grief and with reconciling his sexuality and Catholicism, fearing "not being able to get into Heaven".[8]

FilmographyEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1957 Fire Down Below
1980 North Sea Hijack Heyerdahl
Doctor Who Tarak Episode: "State of Decay"
1980-1981 The Talisman Theodoric 4 episodes
1985 Maelstrom Mr. Tovan Episode: "In Possession", (final appearance)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Paul Bettany on homelessness: 'Who am I to judge'?
  2. ^ Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition, vol. 2, ed. Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage Ltd, pp. 2720-2721
  3. ^ Biography of Paul Bettany Archived 26 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "My son, the actor". www.scotsman.com. 26 April 2004. Retrieved 3 November 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b c "My son, the actor". The Scotsman - 26 April 2004. Retrieved 15 October 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Julie McCaffery (16 May 2006). "Tragedy, Drugs and a Dad Who Wanted to Have a Sex Change Op". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 7 December 2008. Retrieved 14 January 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Paul Bettany on 'Shelter' and why his directorial debut is about homelessness, not Hollywood
  8. ^ https://www.queerty.com/actor-paul-bettany-says-gay-father-went-back-closet-later-life-20201130

External linksEdit