(February 8, 1920-November 26, 1971)
Born in Stockholm, Sweden
Birth name was Nils Bengt Folke Ekerot
Swedish dramatist, director, and film/television actor
Graduate of Dramaten's School of Drama
Famous as 'Death' in Ingmar Bergman's 'The Seventh Seal' (1957)
Directed 'The Gay Party,' 'Barbacka,' 'Sceningang,' 'Masen,' and 'Dodens Arlekin'
Acted in 'They Staked Their Lives,' 'The Magician,' 'Life's Just Great,' and 'Who Saw Him Die?'
Is on the left in his profile picture (Shown with Max Von Sydow as Antonius Block during the iconic 'chess playing' scene in 'Seventh Seal')
Why he might be annoying
He left school before completing his exams to audition for the Royal Dramatic Theatre’s acting school, but was initially not accepted.
At barely the age of thirty he already looked twice his age.
He was iconic in the role of 'Death,' but outside of Sweden, he is not known for much else.
He was a dramatic rival of Ingmar Bergman's, but ended up in his contemporary's shadow, known primarily for acting in his films.
He exhibited self-destructive behavior in his later years, abusing alcohol and smoking excessively.
Erland Josephson described him as an eccentric in his autobiography, recalling that he 'struggled to control his hunger... bemoaned his voracious appetite... [and] His demons destroyed his gentility.'
By the early 60's, his condition had worsened to the point where his contemporaries were discouraged from hiring him, relegating him to a low-brow career in Swedish television.
Ian McKellen played him (or played him 'playing Death' popping out of the cinema screen) in the cringe-inducing Arnold Schwarzenegger action-comedy 'The Last Action Hero.'
Why he might not be annoying
While at Dramaten, he was dubbed 'the young Intellectual' for his soul-searching performances.
He studied under Stockholm theatre legends Willy Koblanck, Stig Torsslow, and Julia Håkansson.
He received The Daniel Engdahl Scholarship awarded by Teaterförbundet (1941) and later received their Gold Medal (1956).
He was jointly awarded the AT Film Prize for his performances in 'Dynamite' and ‘Brita I Grosshandlarhuset’ (1947).
He directed a three-year run of 'Light in the Shack,' which Ingmar Bergman produced.
He replaced Olaf Molander as the director for a Royal Dramatic Theatre of Stockholm production of 'Long Day's Journey Into Night' (the play's International debut; 1956).
Performers were known to have preferred his reticent directorial style to Bergman's more flamboyant approach.
His chess-playing scenes with Max Von Sydow in 'Seventh Seal' is one of the most widely imitated/parodied scenes in film history.
The idea to have 'Death' be depicted as a pale man entirely in black originated from him (originally Bergman had envisioned Death to be 'wearing a clown mask').
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