William Ian DeWitt Hutt, CC , O.Ont , MM , BA , DFA , D.Litt (May 2, 1920 – June 27, 2007) was a Canadian actor of stage, television and film. Hutt's distinguished career spanned more than fifty years and won him many accolades and awards. While his base throughout his career remained at the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario, he appeared on the stage in London, New York and across Canada.
Hutt was born in Toronto
, the second of three children. A graduate of Toronto's illustrious Vaughan Road Collegiate Institute (now Vaughan Road Academy
), he served five years as a medic during World War II
, receiving a Military Medal
for "bravery in the field". After the war, he received his BA
in 1948 from Trinity College
at the University of Toronto
, and subsequently joined the Stratford Festival of Canada
for its first season in 1953.
His distinguished acting career was devoted to the Stratford Festival
where he won great acclaim in many roles including King Lear
(1988), James Tyrone in Eugene O'Neill
's Long Day's Journey Into Night
(1994-1995) (a production which was subsequently filmed), and Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest
(1975-1979). He played all the great Shakespearean roles—Hamlet
, Lear, Falstaff
, and Titus Andronicus
He has appeared in film and television in such roles as Le Moyne in the 2003 film The Statement, Sir John A. Macdonald in the Canadian television production of The National Dream.
In 1969 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada
and in 1992 he was awarded the Order of Ontario
. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Letters
degree from McMaster University
in Hamilton, Ontario
in October 1997, and in 2000 was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame
. Hutt was the first recipient of the Governor General
's Lifetime Achievement Award, English Stage. He was awarded the 1996 Sam Wanamaker Prize
He was one of the very few people in North America to have appeared on a postage stamp while still alive, the stamp celebrated the Stratford Festival's anniversary and showed him in character as Prospero.
Later life & death
His final years were spent finishing his long career. He retired from the Stratford stage in a production of The Tempest
in 2005, and appeared in the television series Slings and Arrows
as an ailing stage icon who wants to play King Lear
one last time. He had planned to return to Stratford in 2007 in a production of A Delicate Balance
, but had to cancel due to poor health.
Hutt, who had leukemia, died peacefully in his sleep on June 27, 2007 in Stratford, Ontario.