Bryan Forbes, CBE (22 July 1926 – 8 May 2013) was an English film director, screenwriter, film producer, actor and novelist, described as a “Renaissance man” and “one of the most important figures in the British film industry”.Best known as the director of the film The Stepford Wives (1975), he wrote and directed several other critically acclaimed films, including Whistle Down the Wind (1961), Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), and King Rat (1965). He also scripted several films directed by others, such as The League of Gentlemen (1960), The Angry Silence (1960) and Only Two Can Play (1962).
Forbes trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from age 17, but completed only three terms. He did four years of military service in the Intelligence Corps and Combined Forces Entertainment Unit, during which time he started to write short stories. After completing his military service in 1948, following British Equity rules, he was obliged to change his name to avoid confusion with actor John Clark.Forbes began to act, appearing on stage and playing numerous supporting roles in British films, in particular An Inspector Calls (1954) and The Colditz Story (1955).
Forbes wrote two volumes of autobiography and several successful novels, the last of which, The Soldier’s Story, was published in 2012. He was a regular contributor to The Spectator magazine.
Forbes was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1975, while working on The Slipper and the Rose; he remained in remission which he attributed to cutting out gluten and taking vitamins and oil of primrose, together with Newman’s care.However, he revealed in a 2012 interview that it had been a misdiagnosis. He continued his acting, directing and screenwriting career into the early 1990s, and was still publishing novels in the 2010s.
Forbes died at his home in Virginia Water, Surrey, on 8 May 2013 at the age of 86, following a long illness.
Journalist and former Spectator editor, Matthew D’Ancona, a friend of the Forbes family, said: “Bryan Forbes was a titan of cinema, known and loved by people around the world in the film and theatre industries, and known in other fields, including politics. He is simply irreplaceable and it is wholly apt that he died surrounded by his family.” Film critic Mark Kermode wrote: “Once had the fan-boyish pleasure of telling Bryan Forbes how much I loved [The] Stepford Wives. He was charming and self-effacing. A great loss.”