28 December 2014

Michael Praed

British stage and film actor Michael Praed (1960) is best known for his roles in the TV series Robin of Sherwood (1984-1985) and Dynasty (1985-1986). He also appeared in several British and American films, but somehow his promising film career went nowhere.

Michael Praed
British postcard by Santoro Graphics, London, no. BW 133.

Robin of Loxley

Michael Praed was born as Michael David Prince in Berkeley, England in 1960. His parents were Derrick and Kay Prince, with whom he spent his early years in Iran because his father worked as an accountant for a petroleum company.

Michael was sent back to England for a public school education, which he did not enjoy. He then attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. As there was already a Michael Prince listed in Equity, Michael chose the surname ‘Praed’ from the phone book.

He began his career in repertory theatre before moving on to roles in London's West End. Praed's first big break occurred in playing in Joseph Papp's 1982 revival of The Pirates of Penzance with Tim Curry in the West End.

The producers of the TV series Robin of Sherwood spotted Praed and cast him as Robin of Loxley a.k.a. Robin Hood. The BAFTA winning Robin of Sherwood (1984-1985) was a huge hit and gained an international cult status.

After two successful seasons as Robin, Praed was lured to Broadway to star in The Three Musketeers. His Broadway adventure led to him being cast as Prince Michael of Moldavia in Aaron Spelling's prime time soap Dynasty (1985-1986).

After this, Praed starred in the SciFi horror Nightflyers (Robert Collector, 1986), Writer's Block (Charles Correll, 1991), and Son of Darkness: To Die For II (David Price, 1991). Between these B-films, Michael Praed worked on writing and recording music in his own studio.

Michael Praed
British postcard by Reflex, Watford, no. PC 153, 1985. Photo: Brian Aris.

Phileas Fogg

At the end of 1991, Michael Praed left Los Angeles for the lead in an Irish production of the classic musical Carousel. Immediately following this Rogers and Hammerstein musical, he found himself back in London playing the lead in the West End production of Aspects of Love by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The British televised mini-series Riders (Gabrielle Beaumont, 1993) followed, based a novel by Jilly Cooper.

His next stage endeavour was Harold Pinter's terse, tense drama The Caretaker. In 1994 he starred opposite Susannah York in the drama September Tide in the West End.

Praed then dived into the role of the devious, womanizing Gary in the comedy film Staggered (Martin Clunes, 1994). Subsequently, he accepted a regular role in the British television series Crown Prosecutor (John Stroud, 1995).

In 1995, he returned once again to the West End for Noel Coward's Design for Living with Rachel Weisz. Praed was brought as a replacement in the last two weeks of the run and learned the three act play over a single weekend. The next year he played the lead in Barry Manilow's Copacabana: The Musical, on its first national tour of Britain.

Praed made a cameo as the Hitman in the film Darkness Falls (Gerry Lively, 1999) with Robin of Sherwood comrade Ray Winstone. In Canada, he took the regular role of the Victorian aristocrat Phileas Fogg in the Canadian television series The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne (Gavin Scott, 2000), which developed a devoted following.

Michael Praed
British postcard by Statics, London, no. PC 81.

Captain Von Trapp

Michael Praed played The Queen in the film comedy 9 Dead Gay Guys (Lab Ky Mo, 2002), which was shunned at Cannes but won awards at other, smaller festivals.

His next appearance was in Susan Stroman's Tony Award winning musical Contact back in London's West End (2003). He also appeared in such stage productions as Somerset Maugham's The Constant Wife, the musical Beautiful and Damned, Misery with Susan Penhaligon and in Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth.

On TV Praed was seen in popular series as Casualty (2002-2003) and The Bill (2005). Along with his acting, Praed has also recorded a number of narrations. In 2007, Praed was a cast member of the Blake's 7 audio adventure Rebel for B7 Media. He portrayed passenger Nelson Morris in the docudrama Hindenburg: Titanic of the Skies (Sean Grundy, 2007) a re-examination of the German zeppelin's spectacular explosion over New Jersey on the eve of World War II. He has also been the regular narrator of Timewatch (2003-2009), BBC TV's award winning documentary series.

Michael Praed was married to Karen Landau from 1994 till their divorce in 2009. They have two children, son Gabriel (1994) and daughter Frankie (1996). In recent years, appeared on stage as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music (2009–2011), as Dexter Haven in High Society (2013) and as John Greenwood in The White Carnation (2014).

Michael Praed
British postcard by Statics, London, no. PC 80.

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

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