Obituary: Bob Hoskins / British film star in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'

Oct. 26, 1942 - April 29, 2014

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Bob Hoskins, the British film star who brought a singular mix of charm, menace and Cockney accent to a variety of roles, including the bemused, live-action hero of the largely animated "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," has died at 71.

Publicist Clair Dobbs released a statement by his family Wednesday saying that he had died Tuesday night in a hospital, where he had been treated for pneumonia. No other details were given. A much-honored, Oscar-nominated actor, Mr. Hoskins had announced his retirement in August 2012 after learning he had Parkinson's disease.

Mr. Hoskins, who had virtually stumbled into acting, found early acclaim as the kind of ruthless British gangster he played in 1980 in his startling breakthrough feature, "The Long Good Friday," and later in Neil Jordan's 1986 film "Mona Lisa," which earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor. But his filmography also included more playful roles. He was the pirate Smee in two variations of "Peter Pan" -- Steven Spielberg's 1991 "Hook" and the 2011 British TV production "Neverland." He played Cher's unlikely love match in "Mermaids" (1990). And he voiced Charles Dickens' Old Fezziwig in the 2009 animated version of "A Christmas Carol," directed by Robert Zemeckis.

It was Mr. Zemeckis who cast Mr. Hoskins as the pulp-fictional, cartoon-hating detective Eddie Valiant in the landmark hybrid "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988), in which Mr. Hoskins shared the screen with animated characters, including the voluptuous Jessica Rabbit.

Mr. Hoskins received a number of prestigious acting awards over his four-decade career, including the Bafta, Golden Globe and Cannes Film Festival prize as best actor for "Mona Lisa," in which he played an ex-convict hired by a crime boss to act as chauffeur and unlikely bodyguard for a high-priced call girl (Cathy Tyson). He also received an International Emmy Award for "The Street" (2006); the Canadian Genie award for the director Atom Egoyan's "Felicia's Journey" (1999), based on the William Trevor novel; and a Screen Actor's Guild nomination as part of the cast of Oliver Stone's 1995 "Nixon," in which he played J. Edgar Hoover.

Robert William Hoskins was born Oct. 26, 1942, in the historic Suffolk town of Bury St. Edmunds, to which his mother, Elsie Lillian, had been evacuated during heavy bombing in World War II. An only child, he was reared in London, where his father, Robert, was a bookkeeper and his mother was a cook at a nursery school.

Leaving school at 15, he worked as a porter, truck driver and window cleaner. He took a course in accounting but dropped out.

Then, in 1968, he accompanied a friend to an acting audition where he was mistaken for a candidate and was asked to read for a part. He was offered the lead.

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