Albert Finney has died at the age of 82, following a short illness, his family said in a statement. His tragic passing was announced on February 8. Finney is best remembered for his role as Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks in the 1982 classic, “Annie.” During his career, Finney was nominated for five Academy Awards, but never won. Finney never once attended the Oscar ceremony, saying of it,” It’s a long way to go just to sit in a non-drinking, non-smoking environment on the off-chance your name is called.”
Finney’s most recent nomination was a Best Supporting Actor bid for the 2000 movie “Erin Brockovich.” In 2002, Finney had more luck at the Golden Globe and Emmy awards, picking up a trophy for the miniseries, “The Gathering Storm.” In addition to “Annie,” Finney is perhaps best remembered for his take on “Scrooge” in 1970, “Tom Jones” in 1963 and “Miller’s Crossing” in 1990.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Finney Was One of the Leading Actors of ‘Britain’s Early 60s New Wave Cinema’
Finney was a native of Salford, Lancashire, England, not far from the city of Manchester. Finney described his upbringing as “lower middle class.” In their obituary on Finney, the English Guardian newspaper described Finney as “one of the leading actors of Britain’s early 60s new wave cinema.” Prior to becoming a movie star, Finney was a member of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company.
2. Finney Battled Kidney Cancer Between 2007 & 2011
Finney was married three times during his life, most recently to travel agent Pene Delmage, between 2006 and 2018.
He had one child, a son named Simon, who is a cameraman. Finney told the Daily Telegraph in 2011, just after the actor had been treated for cancer, that his son had camera focused him in three movies. Finney said, “He’s focused me in three films. I always threaten him with cutting him out of my will if I’m out of focus.”
At that time, Finney’s lawyer said the acting legend’s cancer treatment had been successful and that he was considering taking multiple roles.
3. Finney Turned Down a Knighthood But Allowed His Friends John Hurt & Tom Courtenay to Pick Up Theirs Without Criticism
Famously, Finney is one of the few British actors to have turned down honors from the Queen. In 1980, Finney turned a Commander of the British Empire order and in 2000, he turned a formal knighthood. He has been quoted as saying that the honors system was “perpetuating snobbery.”
Although in 2001, the BBC reported that when actor Tom Courtenay received his knighthood, he and Finney celebrated with lunch together.
When celebrated actor John Hurt was given a knighthood in 2011, he told the BBC that he had discussed whether or not to accept the award with Finney. Hurt said, “Albert said you’ve got to understand you have to do all the things that a knight has to do. But he never told me what those things were.”
4. Finney Had a Love of Sports ‘Anywhere’
In a 1982 Rolling Stone feature, Finney was described as retiring from Sunday dinner at his home to watch a soccer game between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Finney then goes on to talk about going to watch the New York Giants playing in Yankee Stadium, the Giants played their last game in the Bronx in 1973. Finney was a lifelong fan of Manchester United.
Finney told the magazine, “I remember when I was playing Broadway, each Sunday morning a bunch of us would go over to Downey’s at eleven — it was before the legal opening, but we had friends — lunch there, go up to Yankee Stadium, see the Giants, have a few drinks from the flask. The trick then was to find some girls to come home and cook dinner, say, while we watched the West Coast game on the television and partied some more.”
5. Albert Finney Allegedly Had an Affair With Audrey Hepburn
In 1966, Finney filmed “Two for the Road” with Audrey Hepburn in the south of France. A 2006 Guardian article mentioned that Hepburn and Finney had been sleeping together while filming, even though she was married at the time. An Audrey Hepburn website says that Finney, who was seven year her junior, was one of the few actors she could “loosen up” with.
One passage reads, “She and Finney became extremely close, and were described by coworkers on the film as almost being like children, with their own personal world filled with in-jokes only they knew. They often went out to dinner together, hitting nightclubs afterward. Rumors flew about an on-set affair, but both Audrey and Albert stayed mum about it. To this day, Finney refuses to talk about what may or may not have happened between them.”