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Scottish actor and writer John Cairney dies aged 93

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Scottish actor John Cairney, known for his portrayal of Robert Burns, has died aged 93. 

The Glasgow-born actor and writer was described by his family as an “extraordinarily vivid character and a uniquely talented performer”.

Trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) and was a stage actor before acting in TV and films.

As he performed less in his later life, Cairney returned to an early love of painting, enjoying success as an artist.

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Born in 1930, in Glasgow’s Baillieston area, to parents Thomas and Mary, he once attended art college but dropped out to pursue acting.

It was at RSAMD where he met his first wife Sheila.

He began a successful theatre career and was in the British premiere of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and also played a popular Hamlet at the Citizens Glasgow.

He was also known for his role in the 1963 film Jason and The Argonauts.

Cairney had a long association with Robert Burns, first playing the bard in the play There Was A Man at Edinburgh’s Traverse theatre in 1965. 

The play was then televised and Cairney recorded an album of the performance.

Along with his ever popular performances as Burns, Cairney celebrated other Scottish figures, touring the world with shows about William McGonagall, Robert Service, Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

He spent almost two decades living in New Zealand with his second wife Alannah, whom he married in 1980, before returning to Scotland.

Cairney is survived by his wife Alannah, five children from his first marriage, nine grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.

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