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Acting legend Cameron honoured

The legendary Bermudian actor Earl Cameron has been inducted into the UK's Screen Nation Hall of Fame.

The 99-year-old was the first to be honoured, the organisation was launched this year to honour people of Afro-Caribbean heritage for their contributions to film and television.

The ceremony took place at the British Film Institute last Sunday. Mr Cameron spoke with BBC Front Row presenter Samira Ahmed about various aspects of his prolific career, which spanned some 70 years.

After the interview, there was a special screening of the recently digitally restored ground-breaking epic Pool Of London, the classic thriller that launched Mr Cameron's career in 1951. Ironically, by virtue of racial tension that existed in Bermuda in the mid-1950s, the film was banned here.

Mr Cameron was then awarded his honour by Kimberly Durrant, a UK representative for the Government of Bermuda.

The actor was born in Bermuda on August 8, 1917. He subsequently joined the British Merchant Navy and arrived in London in 1939.

He commenced his acting career in the early 1940s upon securing a speaking role as Joseph, the chauffeur in the American play The Petrified Forest.

He took elocution lessons with the late Amanda Aldridge, daughter of Ira Aldridge, the legendary African-American Shakespearean actor of the 19th century.

We spoke with Mr Cameron at his home in Warwickshire, England.

He said he had to audition three times for his part in Pool of London.

Of his marathon career as an actor he said he had no regrets, that he has had a good life overall.

He said he had once had a fleeting thought about going to Hollywood to augment his acting career, but upon reflection decided it would not have been conducive for him and his biracial family because of the staunch racism and prejudice that was prevalent in the US in the mid-1950s and 1960s. More importantly, as he was in the prime of his life, he did not want to be entangled in the bohemian lifestyle of sex, drugs and alcohol as it was contrary to his fervent religious beliefs as a Bahá'í.

He said that one of the most rewarding moments in his career was meeting the great American actor Paul Robeson.

Mr Cameron, a friend of Bahamian actor Sidney Poitier for the past 66 years, said he met the Academy Award winner while Mr Poitier was filming No Way Out — a 1950 black-and-white film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz starring Richard Widmark.

He had the following advice for up-and-coming actors: train and study the art of acting under a good drama coach; independently secure a speech coach; and above all secure a good agent.

Mr Cameron's most recent screen appearances include a cameo role in the 2006 film The Queen, with Helen Mirren; an “elderly bald man” in the 2010 film Inception and “granddad” in the short film Up on the Roof in 2013. He became the oldest actor living to have appeared in the UK series Doctor Who.

Mr Cameron was awarded the honour of CBE from the Queen in 2009 because of his distinguished contribution to film and in 2010 he was awarded an honorary doctor of letters from Warwick University in England.

Veteran of stagecraft: Earl Cameron, 99, is inducted into the Screen Nation Hall of Fame. He was awarded his honour by Kimberly Durrant, a UK representative for the Government of Bermuda

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Published October 29, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated October 29, 2016 at 8:56 am)

Acting legend Cameron honoured

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