Sir Ian McKellen, Our Beloved Gandalf, Turned 77, But Still Turns Head!

Happy Birthday, Ian McKellen!

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When it comes to comic books and sci-fi / fantasy movies, Sir Ian McKellen features prominently in fans’ minds as he remains as one of the greatest actors of all time in these genres. Fans have been privileged enough to get to watch him play two of his most iconic characters. First there is his role as X-Men villain Magneto where he has starred in X-Men, X2; X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

His second iconic role was as a wizard, Gandalf in all Peter Jackson’s The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit movies. Sir Ian celebrated his 77th Birthday on Wednesday. He was born in Burnley Lancashire, England on 25th May 1939 as a second child to his parents Margery Lois and Denis Murray McKellen. His family relocated to Wigan shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War where he spent his early childhood before relocating to Bolton in 1951.

It was at Bolton Little Theatre (of which he is now patron) that his acting career started having attended Bolton school, Boys’ Division. Sir Ian McKellen’s parents could be said to have planted the seed of his fascination with the theatres as they took him to a family outing to Peter Pan at the Opera House in Manchester at the age of only three! His sister -Jean- five years his senior, took him to his first Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night by the amateurs of Wigan’s Little Theatre, shortly followed by their Macbeth.

It was at 18 years old that he won a scholarship to St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he read English literature. Throughout his career which spans more than half a century on stage and screen, Sir Ian has been honoured with over 50 international acting awards. He was knighted in 1991 for services to the performing arts and made a Companion of Honour for services to drama and to equality, in the 2008 New Year Honours. Further, he was made a Freeman of the City of London in October 2014.

McKellen received his first Academy Award nomination for the Best Actor for his portrayal of gay film director James Whale in Bill Condon’s 1998 classic Gods and Monsters. In 2015, Ian together with Anthony Hopkins starred in a BBC TV film; The Dresser, which will premier in US on Starz on May 30, 2016. This year, he and Patrick Stewart will reunite for a UK tour and limited West End run of No Man’s Land. Happy Birthday Sir Ian McKellen!