Described by the Times of London as "equipped to make an ordinary character seem extraordinary, or an extraordinary one seem ordinary," Sir Ralph Richardson was one of the most celebrated British actors of the 20th century. He regularly brought humor and humanity to every role he played, from unsympathetic fathers in "The Heiress" (1949) and "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (1962) to nearly every great Shakespearean role and even playing God in Terry Gilliam's "Time Bandits" (1981). A friend and frequent collaborator with the three great "knights" of the English acting profession - Lord Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud and Sir Alec Guinness - Richardson joined them in their domination of the stage in the 1940s and 1950s. And if his film career was not as celebrated as that of Olivier or Guinness, he rarely endured bad films or overwhelming critical expectations. Viewers knew that Richardson would deliver a quietly mesmerizing performance every time he appeared on stage or screen, capturing attentions through carefully considered gestures and inflections. In doing so, he remained a presence in films from the late 1930s until the early 1980s, when he received a posthumous Oscar nomination as the Earl of Greystoke in "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes" (1984). A gently eccentric but extraordinarily focused actor, he was also endearingly self-effacing, once describing the secret of his acting talent as "the art of keeping a large group of people from coughing." His accomplishments as an actor remained the high water mark for his profession after nearly six decades.