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Ralph Bates

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Ralph Bates

Ralph Bates
Born (1940-02-12)12 February 1940
Bristol, England
Died 27 March 1991(1991-03-27) (aged 51)
London, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1967–91
Spouse(s) Joanna Van Gyseghem (divorced)
Virginia Wetherell (1973-91; his death)

Ralph Bates (12 February 1940 – 27 March 1991) was an English film and television actor, known for his role in the British sitcom Dear John and for being one of Hammer Horror's best-known actors from the latter period of the company.

Bates was born in Shaw's You Never Can Tell at The Gate Theatre, Dublin, in 1963. A career in repertory theatre soon followed and the young actor gained experience in productions ranging from Hedda Gabler to raucous comedies.

Later, Bates carved a niche in the world of horror films and played important roles or the lead in several Hammer Horror productions, such as Taste the Blood of Dracula, The Horror of Frankenstein, Lust for a Vampire, and Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, in which he played a deranged doctor who mistakenly transforms himself into a beautiful siren.

He portrayed Caligula in the series Secret Army. Because of his French ancestry and dark looks, he was often chosen to play a Frenchman on television, as for instance in a second series episode of ITV comedy drama Turtle's Progress. Bates also appeared in the television movie Minder on the Orient Express, again as a Frenchman.

It looked, for some time, as if he might remain typecast in sinister roles, but he was offered a part in a farcical comedy by the writer John Sullivan, which saw Bates as the loveable but loveless central character among a singles group, with each of its members looking for that perfect but ever elusive partner. Dear John (1986–87), in which he realistically played the part of a divorcé returning to single life, lasted for two series, and around the same time he appeared in the ITV Yorkshire Television sitcom Farrington of the F.O. (1986) with Angela Thorne and Joan Sims.

Bates became ill and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and died in London at age 51 from the disease. He was divorced from the actress Joanna Van Gyseghem, and survived by his second wife, the actress Virginia Wetherell (married 1973-1991). The couple had one daughter, actress Daisy Bates (b. 1974), and a son William Bates (b. 1977), an actor and musician.

Selected filmography

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