Thane Bettany

Last updated 09 January 2020

Thane Bettany (1929-2015)
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Thane William Howard Hardcastle Christopher Bettany

Born: Tuesday 28th May 1929
Died: 2015 (age: 85)


Thane Bettany is a British actor and former dancer. He is the father of film actor Paul Bettany and father-in-law of Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Connelly

He played Tarak in the 1980 story State of Decay.

Thane Bettany was born in Sarawak, an independent state on the island of Borneo, which was then a British protectorate governed by the White Rajahs. Thane had an elder brother named Peter Bettany, they were very close when they were young. His godmother was the American memoirist Agnes Newton Keith, author of Three Came Home. The Bettanys also knew the Rhys-Jones family from Sarawak. Years later, when both had been widowed, Howard John Bettany, Thane's father, married Margaret Patricia Newall Molesworth Rhys-Jones, who had a granddaughter born the same year (1965). Thane Bettany stood godfather to the daughter of his new stepbrother: Sophie Rhys-Jones, later Countess of Wessex and wife of Prince Edward. The Bettanys returned to England before the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

Bettany had become enamoured with ballet after seeing a performance as a child. Once he left school he took the money given to him by his father to go to engineering school to study ballet. After National Service, when he served in theRoyal Navy's Fleet Air Arm as a mechanic, he entered Sadler's Wells Ballet School (which later became the Royal Ballet School).

He began dancing in musical theatre, but after an accident on stage when he broke his back he had to give up professional dance. Acting was an obvious career move, but he had a bad stammer. He went to study mime in Paris with Charles Antonetti, who helped him overcome the problem. Bettany returned to England and joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company, which would later become the Royal Shakespeare Company. He played Osric to SirMichael Redgrave's Hamlet. In The Tempest, he was the understudy for the role of Ferdinand; he then took over the part when the play transferred to Drury Lane with Sir John Gielgud.