Life and career
Born in 1927, Robert Archibald Shaw, grew up in Lancashire, England. His father and mother were both in the medical profession but their son would choose something different. He schooled in Lancashire until he was 12 and upon the death of his father, the family moved to Cornwall. He was educated at Truro, excelling at physical activities. He was later accepted to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. He moved to London on £1,000 inheritance.
He debuted on the stage in 1949 and received many roles through the Old Vic, notably Cassio in "Othello" and Lysander in "A Midsummer Night's Dream". By 1952 he had prestigious West End roles, his first production being "Caro William", shortly after which he would begin to earn television and film roles. He married Jennifer Bourke, an actress from his Old Vic days, in the same year.
Shaw had a cameo role in "The Lavender Hill Mob" before making an appearance as Pulford in "The Dam Busters" (1955). By the mid '50s, Shaw had earned a recurring role in "The Buccaneers" (1956) as a retired-pirate-cum-privateer. He would serve as the lead for its 37 episode run.
Shaw earned a small role in Dirk Bogarde's "Libel" (1959) and plenty of television bit-parts, including a role in the spy-fi "Danger Man" (known as "Secret Agent" in the USA).
"From Russia With Love" would spark his international acting career, with the cold-faced killer Red Grant. Sadly, 1963 would mark the end of his first marriage in divorce. With Bourke he had fathered four children.
Just as his film career was taking shape, Shaw also put aside time to write. His first novel, "The Hiding Place" was released to some success in 1960 and was followed up with "The Sun Doctor" which earned him the Hawthornden Prize in 1962. To test his skills further, Shaw also signed up to be a reporter and was deployed to Rome to cover the Olympics.
Robert Shaw and Mary Ure were seen on the stage together in 1961. At the time Ure was married to John Osborne but that did not deter Shaw in the slightest. Suffice to say, in 1963 the pair married and lived happily until her passing in '75.
On screen, Shaw played memorable roles in "Hamlet" (1964) as the King of Denmark, Col. Hessler in "Battle of the Bulge" (1965). He would marry Virginia Jansen, one year after Ure's death and the pair remained together until Shaw's passing. The following decade was no less impressive for Shaw, playing the PM's father in "Young Winston" (1972) and in classic hustler film, "The Sting" (1973), Shaw was the stern Doyle Lonnegan.
Some argue his career climaxed with the Spielberg production "Jaws" (1975), in which he played the rather mad shark-hunter Sam Quint. By the end of the 1970s, Shaw worked with Connery once more, as the sheriff in the classic tale of "Robin and Marion" (1976), along with Richard Harris, Ian Holm and Audrey Hepburn.
Sadly, on the set of "Avalanche Express", Shaw was stricken with a heart attack and passed away on 28 August 1978, in Tourmakeady, County Mayo, Ireland. He left 10 children behind him.