Actor George Cole, a British mainstay for years on UK television and in British film, has died at the age of 90, the New York Times reports.
He is most well known outside of England for playing the part of young Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, a black and white film produced in the 1950s that many consider the standard when judging other productions of the Christmas classic. The movie is called Scrooge in the UK and A Christmas Carol in the USA.
The 1951 film version of A Christmas Carol famously stars Alastair Sim in the lead role of Scrooge. Though Sim and Cole looked nothing alike both were cast for the film and perhaps it was because of their off-screen relationship. Cole was raised by adoptive parents and was mentored as an actor by Sim.
Cole went on to a legendary career in the UK, playing shifty and sometimes dark characters. One reviewer once described him as looking like “an amiable pall bearer”. After his unofficial adoption at the age of 16 by Alastair Sim and his wife, Naomi, Cole moved in with the couple. When he later married, he built a house on a five-acre plot of land next to the Sims’ home at Nettlebed in Oxfordshire and lived there with his own family.
Critics of the 1951 film A Christmas Carol have long noted that in the film Sim and Cole look nothing alike but that later in life there was something of a resemblance between the two men.