A Look Back at Sir Ian McKellen From the 1960s to 1980s

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Sir Ian McKellen’s professional on-stage career began in 1961, but it was not until four years later that he gained a notable success for his first West End performance in the play A Scent of Flowers. At the 1969 Edinburgh festivals, with the Prospect Theatre Company, he made two breakthrough performances as Richard II and Marlowe’s Edward II. In the 1970s and 1980s, having become well-known in British theatre, he performed regularly at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre. McKellen also took film roles throughout these three decades, but he only became more recognized in this medium until the 1990s.

Let’s take a look at the British cultural icon from the 1960s to 1980s through these 22 vintage photographs:

Ian McKellen in conversation, October 1965. Photo by Don Smith/Radio Times.

Ian McKellen on a motorcycle, October 1965. Photo by Don Smith/Radio Times.

Ian McKellan and Tina Packer in costume for the BBC serialization of the Charles Dickens novel ‘David Copperfield’, London, December 1965. Photo by Harry Todd.

Ian McKellen in rehearsal for the Noel Coward play ‘Hay Fever,’ March 1968. Photo by Warner.

Ian McKellen in rehearsal for the Noel Coward play ‘Hay Fever,’ March 1968. Photo by Warner.

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