Award-winning British actor Sir Ian Holm, CBE has died at age of 88.

Ian Holm, the versatile actor who played everything from Napoleon in Time Bandits, an android in Alien , Father Vito Cornelius in The Fifth Element, to the legendary role of Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings movies, has died in London at the age of 88, his agent confirmed to the Guardian.

“It is with great sadness that the actor Sir Ian Holm CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88,” they said. “He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer,” adding that his illness was Parkinson’s related. “Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.”

He was born Ian Holm Cuthbert on September 12, 1932 in Goodmayes, Essex, UK.

Long before legions of Lord of the Rings fans knew him as Bilbo Baggins, he was a well-respected, highly esteemed star of stage and screen. He won the Laurence Olivier Award in 1998 for his performance as King Lear. He won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor for his role as Lenny in The Homecoming. In 1981, he won the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Chariots of Fire; he was nominated for an Oscar for the same role.

Sir Ian Holm was one of the world’s greatest actors, a Laurence Olivier Award-winning, Tony Award-winning, BAFTA-winning and Academy Award-nominated British star of films and the stage. He was a member of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company and has played more than 100 roles in films and on television.

Holm as Father Vito Cornelius in The Fifth Element

In 1989 he was appointed a commander of the Order of the British Empire. He was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.

Sir Ian had a double connection to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. He played Frodo Baggins in the 1981 radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, . He played Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy of LOTR, and shared the role of Bilbo with Sherlock‘s Martin Freeman (Watson in Sherlock, Everett Ross in Black Panther, Arthur Dent in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) in The Hobbit movies. Interestingly, when he played Frodo in the radio drama, he was the same age that Frodo was supposed to have been when he embarked on his quest in The Hobbit.

Like many actors, he turned to voiceovers after he was too old for leading man roles. He was Chef Skinner in the Disney/Pixar film Ratatouille. He voiced Pontius Pilate in The Miracle Maker. He was Squealer in the 1999 version of Animal Farm, in which Sir Patrick Stewart played the villainous Comrade Napoleon. He voiced Frank Cooper in Wisconsin Death Trip.

In his final days, his wife Sophie de Stempel had been documenting Holm’s final days in a series of pastel portraits. He is survived by his fourth wife, de Stempel, and five children from previous relationships, as well as his third wife, the actor Penelope Wilton.


Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress ”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.